post written by: Marc Chernoff

50 Things Everyone Should Know
How To Do

Knowledge is PowerSelf-reliance is a vital key to living a healthy, productive life.  To be self-reliant one must master a basic set of skills, more or less making them a jack of all trades.  Contrary to what you may have learned in school, a jack of all trades is far more equipped to deal with life than a specialized master of only one.

While not totally comprehensive, here is a list of 50 things everyone should know how to do.

1.  Build a Fire – Fire produces heat and light, two basic necessities for living.  At some point in your life this knowledge may be vital.

2.  Operate a Computer – Fundamental computer knowledge is essential these days.  Please, help those in need.

3.  Use Google Effectively – Google knows everything.  If you’re having trouble finding something with Google, it’s you that needs help.

4.  Perform CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver – Someday it may be your wife, husband, son or daughter that needs help.

5.  Drive a Manual Transmission Vehicle – There will come a time when you’ll be stuck without this knowledge.

6.  Do Basic Cooking – If you can’t cook your own steak and eggs, you probably aren’t going to make it.

7.  Tell a Story that Captivates People’s Attention – If you can’t captivate their attention, you should probably just save your breath.

8.  Win or Avoid a Fistfight – Either way, you win.

9.  Deliver Bad News – Somebody has got to do it.  Unfortunately, someday that person will be you.

10.  Change a Tire – Because tires have air in them, and things with air in them eventually pop.

11.  Handle a Job Interview – I promise, sweating yourself into a nervous panic won’t land you the job.

12.  Manage Time – Not doing so is called wasting time, which is okay sometimes, but not all the time.

13.  Speed Read – Sometimes you just need the basic gist, and you needed it 5 minutes ago. 

14.  Remember Names – Do you like when someone tries to get your attention by screaming “hey you”?

15.  Relocate Living Spaces – Relocating is always a little tougher than you originally imagined.

16.  Travel Light – Bring only the necessities.  It’s the cheaper, easier, smarter thing to do.

17.  Handle the Police – Because jail isn’t fun… and neither is Bubba.

18.  Give Driving Directions – Nobody likes driving around in circles.  Get this one right the first time.

19.  Perform Basic First Aid – You don’t have to be a doctor, or genius, to properly dress a wound.

20.  Swim – 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water.  Learning to swim might be a good idea. 

21.  Parallel Park – Parallel parking is a requirement on most standard driver’s license driving tests, yet so many people have no clue how to do it.  How could this be?

22.  Recognize Personal Alcohol Limits – Otherwise you may wind up like this charming fellow.

23.  Select Good Produce – Rotten fruits and vegetables can be an evil tease and an awful surprise.

24.  Handle a Hammer, Axe or Handsaw – Carpenters are not the only ones who need tools.  Everyone should have a basic understanding of basic hand tools.

25.  Make a Simple Budget – Being in debt is not fun.  A simple budget is the key.

26.  Speak at Least Two Common Languages – Only about 25% of the world’s population speaks English.  It would be nice if you could communicate with at least some of the remaining 75%.

27.  Do Push-Ups and Sit-Ups Properly – Improper push-ups and sit-ups do nothing but hurt your body and waste your time.

28.  Give a Compliment – It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give someone, and it’s free.

29.  Negotiate – The better deal is only a question or two away.

30.  Listen Carefully to Others – The more you listen and the less you talk, the more you will learn and the less you will miss.

31.  Recite Basic Geography – If you don’t know where anything is outside of your own little bubble, most people will assume (and they are probably correct) that you don’t know too much at all.

32.  Paint a Room – The true cost of painting is 90% labor.  For simple painting jobs it makes no sense to pay someone 9 times what it would cost you to do it yourself.

33.  Make a Short, Informative Public Speech – At the next company meeting if your boss asks you to explain what you’ve been working on over the last month, a short, clear, informative response is surely your best bet.  “Duhhh…” will not cut it.

34.  Smile for the Camera – People that absolutely refuse to smile for the camera suck!

35.  Flirt Without Looking Ridiculous – There is a fine line between successful flirting and utter disaster.  If you try too hard, you lose.  If you don’t try hard enough, you lose.

36. Take Useful Notes – Because useless notes are useless, and not taking notes is a recipe for failure.

37.  Be a Respectful House Guest – Otherwise you will be staying in a lot of hotels over the years.

38.  Make a Good First Impression – Aristotle once said, “well begun is half done.”

39.  Navigate with a Map and Compass – What happens when the GPS craps out and you’re in the middle of nowhere?

40.  Sew a Button onto Clothing – It sure is cheaper than buying a new shirt.

41.  Hook Up a Basic Home Theater System – This isn’t rocket science.  Paying someone to do this shows sheer laziness.

42.  Type – Learning to type could save you days worth of time over the course of your lifetime.

43.  Protect Personal Identity Information – Personal identity theft is not fun unless you are the thief.  Don’t be careless.

44.  Implement Basic Computer Security Best Practices – You don’t have to be a computer science major to understand the fundamentals of creating complex passwords and using firewalls.  Doing so will surely save you a lot of grief someday.

45.  Detect a Lie – People will lie to you.  It’s a sad fact of life.

46.  End a Date Politely Without Making Promises – There is no excuse for making promises you do not intend to keep.  There is also no reason why you should have to make a decision on the spot about someone you hardly know.

47.  Remove a Stain – Once again, it’s far cheaper than buying a new one.

48.  Keep a Clean House – A clean house is the foundation for a clean, organized lifestyle.

49.  Hold a Baby – Trust me, injuring a baby is not what you want to do.

50.  Jump Start a Car – It sure beats walking or paying for a tow truck.

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  • COOL! Thanks.

  • As a teacher I am successful if I have taught my kiddos:

    Problem solving
    When to question what is going on around them
    How to research the answer (Similar to your Google tip)
    Stand up for what is right
    See criticism as an opportunity from growth
    Show and tell people you love them

    Did you have balance a check book on your list?

  • Thanks much for the link love. Btw, I just subscribed. :)

  • Wow! This is a great resource list. I’m going to dive into these and learn a few things! Isn’t it funny how using Google effectively is included today with things like building a fire, cooking, and holding a baby? I rely on Google daily so it is a must. Great post!

  • Great list! Just realized I have so much to learn..

  • What a lovely list. I have some work to do.

  • Great list of resources! I need to learn a few things, it seems. Thanks for the link!

  • Very Good, even at 60 there’s something more to learn….

  • Basic statistics is another one to add to the list. I have heard many times that the best engineers are the ones that can quickly and accurately estimate the answer. If you can get close you know if it is worth the effort of solving the problem.

  • […] you’re bored, on vacation, looking for inspiration, or trying to shake thing up, reference THIS ARTICLE. It’s a list of 25 things any self-reliant person should know how to do. I consider myself […]

  • @All:
    Thanks for all the kind words and additional tips! ;-) I’m sure this list could hit 500 if we really thought hard enough.

  • These things are GREAT! I totally agree. Everyone should know how to do these things and so much more. Marc is so right. The list could grow because there are so many basic life skills to learn. There should be a class for this in our public schools. From first grade all the way through to graduation where our kids are taught age appropriate life skills so when they go into the world they are prepared. I would expand on number 8 though. Women sometimes can’t win or avoid a fight, especially if they are being attacked so learning how to purchase and use some sort of self defense product would be helpful. A lot of women don’t even know products like this are available to the average citizen. Good article. I especially appreciate the way you not only gave us the life skill but links to where it is taught. Great job!

  • […] 50 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do | Marc and Angel Hack Life WOW! A fabulous list of life ‘howto’s and videos and text to help you do them. E.g. remove a stain, jump start a car, paint a room, remember names, speed read, travel light, handle a job interview, hold a baby, deliver bad news, build a fire, perform cpr (tags: advice article blog communication cook education fun good tips interesting learning useful skills lifehacks howto) […]

  • I agree with the teacher who inquired about checkbook balancing. So many young people today do not know how to manage their finances at all. Finance balancing and avoiding bad credit practices should definitely be on the list.

  • actually, the Heimlich Maneuver is incredibly dangerous and liable to cause more harm. there are much safer ways to assist a choking person. has fact sheets on how to properly assist a person with an obstructed airway.

  • What a great list! I need help with remembering people’s names, negotiating, and speed reading. I could probably use this whole list, but I’ll be starting in these categories first.

    I’m great at remembering people’s faces, but names are much harder. I admit I don’t take enough time to really imprint them on my brain. I really should because when that person I met last week stumbles into me, I feel bad that they know my name and I don’t know theirs. It’s a bad habit that I must break.

  • @Debbie:
    I completely agree with your point on female self-defense. It’s important. This list was gender neutral though, so I wanted to hit points that applied to both men and women.

    Managing personal finances is certainly an important skill. I did include the act of creating a budget which sort of satisfies the issue.

    Interesting information. I’ll have to look into this.

    Remembering a person’s name is the key to cultivating new relationships. A person’s name is music to their ears, especially coming from someone they don’t know all that well. As always, thanks for keeping the conversation going. ;-)

  • Great list of things that one must be able to do or have in life. It is not hard to decipher everything right, but people do not wish to leave their comfort zones to really learn. It is a nice compilation and crisply told.
    God bless ya.

  • Excellent! This is the list of information our children should learn in school — or at home! Wish I had had this list when I was 18 years old! Wow!

  • Aww, darn, and the only thing on this list I don’t know how to do is start a fire! :(

    … actually, I don’t know how to do most of these, but the most useful one seems to be how to effectively tell a story. I’ll get right on to that. :P Great idea for a list, btw, I haven’t seen something like this anywhere else!

  • This is fabulous, guys! Wow. It’s smart, thoughtful, and totally HELPFUL. Thank you!

  • this is a spot on accurate list, good job

  • 51: ride a bicycle :D

  • barbara johnson
    June 7th, 2008 at 7:42 am

    Wow, you opened my eyes! What do we need to know a lot :-) Seriously I really enjoyed my stay…. will be back!!

    Keep up the good work….o yes riding a bike is definitely a requirement. I study in Amsterdam for a year and a bike is a survival necessity here. Suicidal at home, survival here.. funny world!

  • Excellent List! It’s amazing how many people cannot perform many of these fundamental tasks. I am thankful to have been brought up knowing how to do many of these things…but there is always more to learn! I will be referencing this page when I have my own children ;) ‘The Fundamentals of Life Training Checklist’! Oh, and I also think that learning how to properly read/write should be on there. It’s amazing how many people go through life still not knowing how to do this…

  • Phil E. Drifter
    June 7th, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    I always give out-of-towners the wrong directions, I figure they want to explore the city.

  • Phil E. Drifter
    June 7th, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Oh btw, I don’t send them far in the wrong direction. and i dont send them in the completely opposite direction. And in all honesty i’m just kidding. I’m always wearing my earbuds as a sign: ‘don’t talk to me.’ If people try to talk to me anyway, i say ‘dont talk to me’ and glare at them. Waste someone else’s time, not mine.

  • […] Continual Learner 50 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do […]

  • I agree with the “How to start a fire”. My mother in law told me a story once that my brother in law and a friend of his tried to start a fire for something, probably a camping trip, and no matter what they did they couldn’t get one going. So maybe this is something I should show him. LOL

  • One to add is at least once have something delivered in a transfer truck your your self i suggest a safe.

  • This is the best compilation of very useful life-long tips I have come across. I call it “one-stop learning shop” Thanks.

  • Thank you Marc for putting together such a wonderful list of useful knowledge. Your time and effort will make a positive difference to many who take the time to explore these resources.

    I came to your site via StumbleUpon and I am glad to find you.

    I write about self-development, living with purpose and about progressive ideas to empower.

    Have a great week,


  • Such a useful post.. loved it! thanx alot!

  • How to hold a baby? How to flirt without looking stupid? How on your list of great things to do did you fail to mention the most important? Where are your parenting tips? Childcare? Teaching? Love? Relationships? Is this a male list of what is important in life? It certainly seems that way, I am not saying its not a good list its just patriarchal one.

  • I would like to add banking online. With the way things are evolving, that is a must for young people.

  • Hmmmm might be gender neutral, but definitely not geographically neutral. Seems to me it’s more important to learn to ride ánd repair a bycicle than anything with car, it’s more important to learn to grow your own veggies than to select them, how to prevent pregnancy is definitely missing, purify drinking water, lose the word ‘driving’ in the directions, etc. etc. And who needs a home theatre?

  • Why is learning how to use google above learning CPR?

  • An other link in my bookmarks - thx

  • I think this is possibly the best “list of things” that has ever been posted on the internet

  • Fabulous list! I just found out I’m better off than I thought I was :)

  • @All:
    Thanks for keeping the conversation going. For those who have had questions on my rationale behind the order of the 50 things listed, this list is not put together in any particular order, nor is it meant to be completely comprehensive. Feel free to leave further additions of things people should know in the comments. I can see some of you have already. ;-)

    As for the questions regarding the importance of putting together a home theater system… There is no doubt that CPR, first aid, etc. are more important. However, I feel that in the 21st century it is quite important to have a basic understand of electronic components. Everyone should feel confident and be able to figure this kind of stuff out.

  • that is a great list. every adult should study it

  • Nice list! How about listing the necessity of understanding the basics of html and blogging? (Could be that these are ubiquitous now, though)

  • […] and Angel shared a list of 50 things everyone should know how to do. I think I have about half the list covered, so I’ve got some work to […]

  • […] out how to do things on your own, rather than paying an expert. This year I’ve managed to rescue a toy from the bottom of our […]

  • I too really enjoyed your list. I do agree with one comment above… Finding pure water or knowing how to purify water is important. I also feel basic knowledge of how to make electricity may be important for the future. 2 cents worth.

  • You rule, man! This article is the best thing that happened to me today. Keep up the good work! =]

  • Found the list to be interesting but how to tie a tie isn’t on there! No one ever seems to know how to do that and clip ons can only get you so far in life.

  • […] at Marc and Angel Hack Life says his list of “50 things everyone should know how to do” is far from inclusive. Oh dear, because there are a number of things on the list of 50 that we […]

  • While I appreciate trying to get people to learn how to drive standard transmission vehicles and parallel park, let’s not forget the basics:

    1. Learn how to drive, perhaps courteously? I know, I know, common courtesy is dead, isn’t it? (I didn’t get that memo I guess.)
    2. Master the four way stop sign…. So many can’t do it. I hate when you look at me and question who’s going when it’s YOUR turn.
    3. Learn how to park your giant SUV/truck in ONE parking spot. See how big the spots are? Yes, it honestly only takes one. Not one and a half, not two, ONE.

    Just a couple of my driving pet peeves, the basics you and I take for granted that it seems SO many people can’t do… (At least in the lovely state I live in.)

    Oh, and besides, if you can’t drive a manual, you can’t steal either of my cars. :) So I think we should keep those skills to a minimum, you can get almost anything in an automatic these days. (Except for a beautiful S2000 like the one I’ve got!)

  • I think an addendum to remembering people’s names could be to develop a sense of humor so that, when you get to the age where remembering even your own name is a problem, you will be able to admit that you don’t know a name and make it a positive situation. But then if you’ve mastered numbers 7, 9, and 30 that will take care of itself.
    Great job with the list. Thanks.

  • Awesome site.. helps with alot of lifes modern and not so modern challenges.

  • Marc,
    This is an incredible list. I am grateful to have found it. You have great content and I will definitely be referring my readers to this blog. I like the fact that you put in a lot of time and effort to offer value to your readers. That is inspiring.

    The other lesson I would add to your list is the capacity to sell or persuade others because in life everything is about selling. Those who have that capacity always get a competitive edge. Thanks again.

  • Wow. This just made the top of my regularly visited sites list. Great list. Great Job. We should teaching our college kids stuff this too. This is truly as ‘essentials’ list. It is amazing at how much of this we have forgotten as adults. Please keep it up.

  • @All:
    Once again, thanks for the kind words and insightful additions to my list. There really is an extensive list of things we should all know how to do. Thanks for pointing more of them out. ;-)

  • You can learn all of these in the boy scouts :)

    …except the personal alcohol limits…depends on your group.

  • How about “Conserve Resources,” or more specifically, “Conserve Electricity.” Basic thriftiness will save you — and the world — a lot.

  • WOW!! I am pretty proud of myself I can do and have done most of these already. Did I mention I’m just a girl?

  • […] 50 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do.  I need to add air conditioner repair to this list.  Ours went out this morning and it is already 80 degrees inside our house!  Thank goodness for emergency funds! […]

  • This is a terrific site!

    Living for the past 11 years in Phuket, Thailand and teaching as a volunteer, I often talk about some of the topics listed in this site and discover, time and time again, how strong this culture is in rejecting in part or all of it, that what seems so obvious in the West.

    They will not even leave a message on my answering machine because,”… we don’t like to talk to machines.” Even though it is in the Thai language! Given the waiting and waiting in Canada to get a live person on the line, I agree with the Thai people to some extend. At home, no machine no talk! Too technical, too impersonal. I prefer Thailand! (plus the fabulous beaches, food and low prices, but above all the gentle loving people.)

    The best to all you readers.


  • Done with them all!

  • Milla Valkeasuo
    July 17th, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    They’re in wrong order! :D

  • Very nice!!

  • This is great!!! I should print this out and cross out everything I know how to do. It would be interesting to see the differences across age groups…. like for example, my grandparents don’t know anything about computers but damn can grandma remove a stain haha.


  • This was a great post! I will be sharing this post around to my friends, and referring to it on my blog as well.

    Very comprehensive. Good job.


  • Great resource!

  • Wow, I actually know a lot of these items. Need to brush up on my geography skills, though…
    Number 5 is especially handy if you’re coming to visit Europe, we don’t drive automatic cars, just manuals…

  • 50 Things Everyone Should Know is a great list, very comprehensive and well thought out, molto brava at ya. But one thing troubles me: Why do the members of your website’s (presumed) target audience need to have a list in the first place? Is that demographic group so motivationally impoverished that they would NOT acquire these skills after 30-or-so years of life if your list was not here to enlighten them? A scary thought, that.

  • Nice post. It’s very useful. Thanks!

  • […] 50 Things that you Should know how to do (I love this. The list touches on such things like sewing on a button, how to paint a Room, change a tire and remember names.) […]

  • […] 50 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do Time and time again I Stumbleupon a site that says “# of ____ to ___” and it annoys me.  Example.  “10 ways to save money on gas!” or “15 life hacks you can’t live without!”.  But when I stumbled upon this, I gave it a shot.  And I must say, most of these are very good and I’m glad I read.  Some things I don’t agree you need to know (that’s why it’s titled SHOULD know not NEED to know).  Like selecting good produce… who cares if you get a bruised banana, shit happens.  But things like “how to start a fire” or “swim” etc, these are vital things that when in a bind you should definitely know. […]

  • Great Site. Great Info. The Brain is an amazing thing, and I believe in exercising it.

    It is important to keep it active!

  • […]This fantastic list of 50 things that everyone should know is a good read. If you don’t know any of them maybe you should learn […]

  • Very good resource for living successful life. I think it covers every aspect of healthy life. Though list is very long, but again success doesn’t come that easily. You have to work hard to achieve anything significant. I am quite surprised that I myself actually don’t know most of things listed here. So sad :(

  • excellent list and well structured!

  • Great guide!! It’s very useful. I’ll comeback for more great info.Thanks

  • I guess I can file this away under ‘things you are going to need to know how to do one day in life.’ I mean, seriously, this is like a resource you can hand your children and tell them ‘when you are older, you will understand.’ Great list.

  • this is a really helpful and resourceful list! thanks so much for gathering all those links.

  • […]  2. 50 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do  […]

  • I found this through stumble upon and like many sites I stumble, I was skeptical when I saw the headline. “Great! It’s yet another lengthy list from some ignoramus that thinks he/she knows what is best for everyone else.” By the time I finished the first ten, I realized that you have actually constructed a very useful list of important skills to possess, very pertinent to the modern human experience. Kudos to you, and thank you for making me realize a few things that I should learn to do.

    On another note, I would like to suggest that you remove number 41 from the list :-). This is one of my many sources of income, probably the most lucrative. Of course, I’m joking, but it really is amazing to see what people will pay to have someone else do the “dirty work” for them. I can’t tell you how many times I have been paid a few hundred dollars for less than an hour of extremely elementary work … square peg goes in the square hole, etc.

    Thanks again!

  • well said… I don’t think there was anything on this list that I don’t agree with. I might add ‘how to lift weights properly’ - theres no point in going to the gym if you don’t know what you are doing or if you are going to stay on the elliptical the whole time.

  • It’s reassuring to know that I know most of the list, with the exception of packing light, handling an ax and knowing my geography.

    Guess I have some work to do.

    Great list!

  • Hey Marc,

    I have another great resource for you in the area of self defense and keeping yourself safe in dangerous situations. Krav Maga is one of the easiest martial arts to learn (anyone can do it) and is the most effective in real-world situations (like how to survive and escape from a mugging, or a gun being held to your head etc.) check out for more info.



  • Wow, I’ve got allot to learn, about half of this list i am not too proficient in!
    Great article.

  • reminiscent of “excerpts from the diary of Lazarus Long” but more up to date…

  • Why oh why would I need to know how to either avoid or win a fist fight? At 47 years of age, I’ve never felt the lack of that one. I’ve got the other 49 down cold but a fist fight?!

  • […] 50 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do - We start off basic.  This list is fantastic.  Some of you could spend weeks just mastering this list, and let me tell you, it would be well worth it.  This list has everything from survival techniquesto computer basics, cpr to giving great speeches, job interviews to time management, travelling to swimming, and so much more.  This must be one of the coolest lists compiled that I have ever seen (a special thanks to Marc and Angel Hack Life) […]

  • […] A little while ago Marc and Angel Hacks Life linked to Dating Tales from a post called “50 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do.” And guess what? They linked to me because of a post I wrote on complimenting a […]

  • This list is fine if you live in an apartment in the suburbs or something. But in the real world, one should be able to field-strip, maintain, and service one’s personal firearm, be it sidearm, shotgun,or assault rifle.

    Hard times, they are a-comin’. If you’re not armed now, you better do so before it’s too late.

  • Great stuff you guys, thank you.

  • Holy cow! Over 90 comments….perhaps you should list 50 ways to get 50 comments on your blog…sweet.

  • I agree with all of these EXCEPT the ones that have to do with cars / driving. Given all the environmental problems in the 21st century, shouldn’t we be looking at alternative methods of transportation? Bicycles and mass transport are just some of the more eco-friendly ways to get oneself around, thus rendering these “must know-hows” useless.

  • What about how to get a date in the first place?

  • #3 is in the right priority order, but should be re-worded as “Search the Internet effectively.” There is so much information on the Internet that Google cannot find at all, and there are so many instances in which Google is not the most effective search tool. This Guide to Web Search explains this in much more detail, and offers information and advice on dozens of other search tools.

  • Thanks, really helpful!!!

  • This is a wonderful list of valuable information. I am definately bookmarking this. Thanks for sharing.
    Kathy Clark

  • all this…? man..i only have 60-100 years to live!

  • Well, at least I know how to hold a baby. 49 other things to learn, so many activities, so little time…

  • What a great list. As a FACS teacher we cover many of this in classes. Personally, I think using a budget should be at the top of any list.

  • wow, this is all in one how to do list, nice :)

  • This is a great list - definitely a keeper. Thanks!

  • How about “learn to communicate effectively” as most of the difficulties in our human experience are attributable to our fundamental lack of ability to understand and be understood? (ps is tire actually tyre?)(pps I do reside in England ;-)

  • I love this blog!!

  • Wow, this is an excellent blog. These are some great common sense tips to learn. I’m really interested now. Thanks. I would love to see more of these things. Nice work.

  • Great article!

    I’ve bookmarked it and I will be back!

    Here is a great video on making fire the Indian Way:

    Have a great day!

    Twenty Twenty
    Ex Hostage - Pro Visionary

  • Liberals are Love
    March 29th, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Fantastic site! I will definitely bookmark and return often. Thank you for putting it together.

  • Perhaps the list could contain learning Morse code, or as it is called amongst ham operators: International Radiotelegraph Code.

  • I really like this list. I would add manners. There is hardly anything worse than being around people or their children who are poorly behaved and inconsiderate of others. I’m not talking about the “which fork to use” manners, but the “wait til the hostess sits down and is ready to eat” basics. I will pass this great site on to others. Thanks!

  • A very useful post. Very good! thank you!

  • I would add: learn to operate appliances like, washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, I mean, come on, people, they’re automatic!

  • This is amazing!
    Definitely worth looking over
    and over

  • sheep w/ shotguns
    May 6th, 2009 at 7:20 am

    basic philosophy or even just knowing logical fallacies would be a nice addition.

  • Impressive list there buddy. It is a good thing that you wrote about first impressions. Pretty solid post!

  • These are some good posts, and excellent resources. Im sure theres enough stuff here to keep me busy for the coming weeks.

  • nice article..i’ve learned a lot from this.. =))

  • I’ve done all but number 26. I do some sign language. Does that count?

  • #34 is probably the toughest for me. 26 was pretty easy as i lived in Chile for 2 years. fun post.

  • Start a conversation is pretty fundamental yet the amount of people that don’t how to do this most basic of tasks is frightening.

  • Remember Names… as a teacher remembering the names of your pupils is one of the hardest part to memorize especially if you are aging thanks for the tips :)

  • Marc,
    Great post. It may motivate me to finish my list of the top things you should know for the workplace, but did not teach you in school. I listed the top 10 that I am always amazed that they still do not teach our childern and the workforce is always expecting.
    1. computer skills (ICDL), google research, typing, communicating effectively with Office 2007/OpenOffice
    2. communication skills (talking/body language/culture differences)
    3. Basic finances: checkbook, balance sheet, profit/loss. Time value of money: 5th grade math applied in practice that would help them avoid debt and help understand commerce world
    4. Basic human factors in the workplace (stress, different learning styles, personality styles), teamwork and high performance productivity
    5. Knowledge management & capture and recall of information you or co workers spent so much time doing
    6. Time and personal mission management (Work & Life balance)
    7. Goal setting and basic task management toward objectives
    8. Basic Problem solving skills
    9. Basic Analylitical skills
    10. Basic Initution skills (Emotional Intelligence), NLP

  • Wow… I’m impressed by the amount of useful information in this single post. I feel like I could spend all day clicking through the links you’ve provided. Thanks for taking the time to find these for us.

  • Wow!! Thanks for the list!! You’re are absolutely right that these task should be well known to each and everyone to live in life and morevoer you’ve boosted my spirits through one of those tips!! Thanks! :)

  • I dunno about #40… ill leave that to the gf/wifey :o

  • […] time to reflect.  In fact, they produced my single, most-favorite list post I’ve ever read - 50 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do.  And there’s always another amazing list of 30 books to read while you’re young.  […]

  • This site is awesome, and all of the useful links. I am going to start at #1 and work my way down just for fun :) Thx

  • Remember Names… as a teacher remembering the names of your pupils is one of the hardest part to memorize especially if you are aging thanks for the tips :)

  • Pretty soon now, I will be getting married and moving out to live with my new wife. I started thinking about any life skills I’d need to brush up on and this blog post is the best I’ve found. Thanks guys.

  • That was a rather awesome post.

  • Definitely worth knowing!

  • Windows or MacIntosh? With 7,485 of the OSes on this planet, you choose the ones that cost money in large amounts? THAT”S NOT “SURVIVAL”!

    Survival is finding life support using minimal resources!

    I run the BSDs and many Linux distros, from and also, and they are totally immune to all the millions of Microsoft Virus!

    You know that about a third of all users in the world are running FOSS, (FREE, Open Source Software)?

    If you use Google, Yahoo, Face Book, You Tube, then you are using FOSS!

    Making a fire? Buy a 5 pack of cheap lighters at Walmart for $1.49!

    Spend some money on a survival pack: a $4.97 camp ax, a fixed blade knife, some freeze dried food, a $6.97 canteen, a $0.97 hank of rope, the $3.99 compass, a trekking map (has topology survey elevation markings), and, grab a couple Space Blankets!

  • Hi Marc and Angel,

    What a great list! We would be honored if you would add to your list of language learning sites.

    If we have the language you want to learn, we will be glad to set up a free account for you or any of your readers.

  • And how about to forgive?

  • Great list, very comprehensive. Though here in America, where something like 90% of cars have automatic transmissions, I find it hard to believe I’d ever be “stuck” by not having this skill.

  • […] articles to stimulate some new possibilities that you can pursue. I Feel Trapped In My Life 50 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do Transform Your Life From Ordinary to […]

  • Great work. Will post to my Facebook page, but might need to take a day off to explore the hyperlinks!

    12. Manage Time - I’d say it’s more useful to learn to manage attention.

  • Properly handle a firearm?

  • Great list. They’re all very useful. Thank you

  • Very good. I’d add

    How to balance your checking account (or bank account.)
    How to compute compound interest.
    How to make introductions.

  • […] What did I learn last week? – If you have trouble answering this question, it’s time for a change.  It doesn’t matter how old you are, you should learn something new every week. […]

  • I know “change a tire” would be on the list somewhere. :)

  • Excellent article.

    So much value here, will pass this on. Thank you.


  • Great article..
    Thanks for sharing


  • Wow, this is like the ultimate post about everything. What an excellent resource. Get’s a thumbs up from me on stumble!

    Great job.

  • Appreciate you sharing, great article.Thanks Again. Much obliged.

  • I Love it! You write great lists! I found your blog through Zen Habits and will be subscribing to your feed:).

  • 40/50!!! NOT THAT bad =P I failed mostly at driving hehehe

  • Shouldn’t cooking be included?

  • No 26 is important. French has been eluding me for awhile. I’ll rather avoid fist fighting. Lively post and on the light side.

  • What a great list of things we should know how to do. I think somthing everybody should do is to go out and read rich dad poor dad.

  • Shoot a gun should be on the list. I guess I have three things to learn– Detect a lie; hold a baby; and learn CPR/heimlich maneuver. CPR on a mannequin is standard, so is holding a baby doll sufficient? Because I’m not fond of kids…

  • great list.. but how about ‘basic firearm safety’, ‘basic hunting/butchering’ and ‘learn to operate at least one motorized vehicle that is not an automobile’

  • Sorry if this is a repeat. Meant to post this last night but I think I forgot. This inspired me to write a column that unfortunately many will not understand:

    Someone sent me an link to an interesting article: ‘50 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do.’
    There are lots of useful things for the sheeple to learn listed. Several I should probably brush up on myself. But they left out some of the most important skills that most sheeple definitely are lacking:
    Why not ‘How to fire a hand held weapon,’ specifically a firearm? Every child should be taught how to handle a gun(rifle, shotgun, handgun), and how to hit what they shoot at, in stressful situations, for when common criminals and “Liberals” threaten their property and Liberty. Every high school graduate should be required to demonstrate they can hit a running “Liberal” at 300 meters.

    To read the rest go here:

  • In view of the economic climate and job uncertainty I would put also put starting and running your own business on the list!


  • Very interesting post. Very easy reading, too. Straight to the point. Not much explanations, because tips are self-explanatory. Provides options to dig deeper into a particular tip with the accompanying recommended links.

    Thanks for sharing this very informative and practical article.

  • Great list! Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks for the awesome post!!!

  • Thanks Marc for sharing the list. They are really a comprehensive list of how to do every things. But how about something very basic and vital. That is… how to love truly?

  • i like this list , i believe you should add, how not to get played by others.and how to increase confidence

  • 50 things everybody should know how to do!

    I like the list. It has many great insights.

    You could also add:
    How to think correctly about fear

  • thanks a lot for these links..your website had a great impact on my life.

  • So what do you do once you have done all these things and still have a lot of living to do. Agree fire a gun should be added. Maybe climb a waterfall, climb a tree, love unconditionally.

  • A long list to accomplish, but a great one. I especially like the learning how to give a compliment. Everyone likes to receive one of those, so job well done.

  • Heh, cool list! All you need to know for successful living - Love it!

    Only thing missing is: Meditate (or relax, for the cynics :)


  • this list is cool. most of the things in this list are covered in boy scouting also instead of CPR i guess it will be better to be first aid.

  • A whole lot of the items on this list are covered as a Boy Scout. I’m good to go!

  • this is a great list, i am going to use this list untill i pass away!

  • Great list. Good job on the part about delivering bad news. It’s hard but someone has to do it. If you do it well the person you are giving it to will appreciate your tact.

  • gr8 simply very helpful for all
    a really motivational package

  • Nice list. The first link for #7 (how to tell a great story) really doesn’t tell you how to actually do so… The article pertains more to marketing a story. Do you have any other resources?

  • Since first finding this post some time back, I seem to keep coming back to it just to check up. They are very helpful

    Thank you very much

  • Great list. Help’s a lot when you don’t know what to do next…

  • Someone has probably already mentioned this but these are the skills I didn’t see that I have on my personal list: how to tie at least a couple of useful knots, how to shoot a gun, how to make a basic electrical circuit, how to catch a fish without a fishing rod (or with, if you want to make it easier), and how to sail a boat. I also think it is good to have the fitness to run 2km without stopping.

  • how to make a basic electrical circuit, how to catch a fish without a fishing rod (or with, if you want to make it easier), and how to sail a boat. I also think it is good to have the fitness to run 2km without stopping

  • everyone should have some idea of what to do if someone is bleeding, which means knowing about the different types of cuts and then what to do about each. They should know that regardless of the type of cut, the objective is to stop the bleeding, because bleeding is always a bad thing. They should be able to spot the difference between superficial cuts and deep arterial bleeding for example and what to do for each. They should also know what to do with puncture wounds and wounds that cover very large areas of the skin. Knowing this kind of stuff might very well mean the difference between being able to help someone and watching them die.

    Everyone should also know what to do if someone is in shock due, regardless of cause. This is because shock victims can quite often develop other conditions that can very quickly become life threatening.

  • I sure hope you never have to recover from a natural disaster with these 50 things. I would learn how to preserve food, how to find or build shelter and how to purify water. How to flirt, type or use a computer are absolutely useless when your life is on the line. Of course, that’s just me. I’m old school and really pity all the electronic junkies that must have their cell phone with them at all times.

  • Wow, this list is great! There are so much things that I really need to learn how to do, but just not doing them. It is time for me to stop procrastinating and give the list a try.

  • Start a conversation is pretty fundamental yet the amount of people that don’t how to do this most basic of tasks is frightening.

  • A very nice idea for a list… and every point is quite useful. :)


  • This is such a wonderful list! I’ve saved it, just so that I can check the few things I have yet to learn off the list. :]

  • This isn’t just one article it’s 50 articles! Great stuff.

  • A must know list… and the truth is that most of us don’t know enough. Thank you for giving the wake up call.

  • how to find or build shelter and how to purify water would be a good addition.

  • Hello. It took me over a month, but I finally checked off all 50 things! I’m so happy.

    Terrific tutorial!

  • Thanks for sharing such an interesting and educational post.

  • I have only just got back into my old gmail account and noticed that I had bookmarked this post in Reader in 2009! I am proud to say that I have ‘ticked’ off 21 (similar things) on the list and I will defo tick off the rest by the end of this year.

  • Very nice list, the only things I think was missing was measuring a room(my best friend’s wife has no idea how) and sewing, not just a button, but how to mend clothing or other items and make your own stuff. Possibly add measuring a body to make clothing.

  • Not just hold a baby, you should know how to change a diaper as well. And hook in a carseat.

  • You are awesome!! This post is so useful!

  • Not only is this post helpful, but i have found myself book-marking almost ALL you links. I am truly inspired by your entire website (thank God for StumbleUpon). Not only have I grown mentally from everything your sight offers, but I continuously find more info, read, and reread. From job interviewing to your “must read” list i have taken bits from each and tied it all together. Thank you

  • Excellent list of useful skills for managing a successful life. Thanks.

  • Excellent list! Thank you!

  • Good stuff here. I like the lists. :) People should know a lot of these things.

  • This is the 7th time that I re-read this article. The info here is truly helpful, thank you very much for putting this list together!

  • You are just amazing! Thank you for providing this educational pool of knowledge.

  • I have to agree with each and every thing you wrote here! These are the basic things everyone should know! Thank you for posting this! :)

  • Marc, such a nice article you have here. Simple ideas yet very informative and useful. The “HOWs” are just enlightening. Thanks!

  • These tips and how-to links are incredible! Thank you so much Marc.

  • Great list! I would also add ( if not already posted )…..basic spelling and English grammar useage. Too (or is it “to” or “two”?!!) many people today are lazy, or seriously do not know (”no”) how to spell.

  • Excellent list! Number 6 is my bailiwick, and I’d like to add that knowing how to cook, besides being part of being able to take care of oneself, is a key to happy family life. I am a huge believer in the power of the family dinner!

  • I love it! Such useful ideas and links.

  • This is exactly what I was looking for. Very informative. Thank you.

  • This makes me feel good because I’ve taught my kids so many of these things; even when they look at me crazy (driving a stick and changing a tire) they are glad I made them do it even through the tears :)

  • For those of us in a northern clime I’ll add

    Thaw frozen pipes - way to many tragic house fires caused through not knowing this.

  • This is an awesome article! Hours of learning and stemming off of these ideas have occurred since I read it.

  • Thank you so much. I’m homeschooling my 8th grader, & hey some of this I didn’t even know. Talking about awesome, this is it!!!!

  • Can we add dance to this list? For occasions that require it.

  • #31 - Reciting Geography
    I used to be horrible with geography in school.. Unfortunately I found this video after I got out of that place..

    Animaniacs - Nations of the World

    It is a bit out-dated, but still, the average person cant watch this a few times and NOT learn something; in less than two minutes.

  • Great article! Educational and fun, thanks.

  • Good tips.

    Regarding learning a new language… Perhaps more important (and far easier) than learning another language would be learning how best to speak to someone who doesn’t speak English very well. Especially where I live, in an English-speaking country but in an area with lots of immigrants, it pains me to watch conversations between native English speakers and non-native English speakers (who don’t speak very well, e.g. my parents ten years ago). The native English speaker will talk at a rate he thinks is normal, whilst the non-native speaker is struggling to understand.

    Tips from my own experience:
    1. Talk a little slower than usual, but not extremely slowly/condescendingly.
    2. Enunciate. If who you’re talking to doesn’t understand, slow down further and sound out each syllable. If they still don’t understand, try to give a very simple definition, a synonym, or write it out on a piece of paper.
    3. Don’t attempt to imitate their accent if they have one. It doesn’t work, and they will probably find it offensive.
    4. Use simple words instead of more complex words, confusing words, slang, or words with multiple meanings. E.g. “I like this book” as opposed to “I like this novel,” or “The lamp is broken” as opposed to “The light’s broken.
    5. Use simple verbs, also. “I’m going to the doctor’s office.” as opposed to “I’m heading to the doctor’s office” or “I’m taking a trip to the doctor’s office.”
    6. Remember that the class/textbook out of which they learned English may have used British spelling and vocabulary as opposed to American, or vice versa.

  • Great list! I’ll be delving into the ones I can’t do yet.

  • For those of us in a northern clime I’ll add

    Thaw frozen pipes - way to many tragic house fires caused through not knowing this.

  • Good tips.

    Regarding learning a new language… Perhaps more important (and far easier) than learning another language would be learning how best to speak to someone who doesn’t speak English very well. Especially where I live, in an English-speaking country but in an area with lots of immigrants, it pains me to watch conversations between native English speakers and non-native English speakers (who don’t speak very well, e.g. my parents ten years ago). The native English speaker will talk at a rate he thinks is normal, whilst the non-native speaker is struggling to understand.

    Tips from my own experience:
    1. Talk a little slower than usual, but not extremely slowly/condescendingly.
    2. Enunciate. If who you’re talking to doesn’t understand, slow down further and sound out each syllable. If they still don’t understand, try to give a very simple definition, a synonym, or write it out on a piece of paper.
    3. Don’t attempt to imitate their accent if they have one. It doesn’t work, and they will probably find it offensive.
    4. Use simple words instead of more complex words, confusing words, slang, or words with multiple meanings. E.g. “I like this book” as opposed to “I like this novel,” or “The lamp is broken” as opposed to “The light’s broken.
    5. Use simple verbs, also. “I’m going to the doctor’s office.” as opposed to “I’m heading to the doctor’s office” or “I’m taking a trip to the doctor’s office.”
    6. Remember that the class/textbook out of which they learned English may have used British spelling and vocabulary as opposed to American, or vice versa.

  • Interesting article. I suppose it’s good to be self reliant. I wonder, did you mean for everyone to be able to do all these things at the same point in life, or is it a gradual process?!! I wonder too about notions of self reliance. What, for example, would a person with a disability do with this list if say, they couldn’t drive, or open a tin to prepare a meal? Does that mean they are ‘less than’ ?? Surely we should be aiming for inter-dependence not total independence. Some people have strengths that others don’t and vice-versa, and maybe their strengths can complement another person’s, but be different entirely. Also, developing skills is a life long process. You don’t need to have it all perfect by the age of 25!! Take it from someone who is 46 and still learning… ;-)

  • Great, interesting, fun, and educational. Thanks.

  • Great list! I am working on learning all of these things.

  • That’s a big list. There’s a few things I need to learn. Useful, thank you.

  • Its a big list.
    lot of things to be learn. very useful.

  • Great article of things everyone should know. Everyone needs to be self reliant in life. I posted it on my rookie blog to share with my friends.

  • Awesome article! Great list to give to a kid leaving for college for the first time.

  • Love this! Happy about how many I know; distressed about how many I don’t.

    One I did not see:

    When and HOW to offer AND accept an apology.

  • Nice that was pretty insightful. Great read.

  • How to please a life partner should be on this list.

  • Wow! Useful collection of wisdom everyone should know.

  • Once I learn to hook up the home theater system, I will have done everything on this list. I think you should add another one though: Surviving a tragedy or losing a loved one, because it’s universal… we all must go through that, despite our best intentions.

  • A+++ article. Nice guide for a life’s to do list.

  • Great list. Looking forward to knocking a few of these skills off my to-learn list.

  • This list is good but is missing a couple of fundamental things….
    1. Using tools in general to make simple repairs is important…so add hammer, screw driver, pliers.
    2. Doing laundry not just removing stains is vital to self-reliance.
    3. Computer skills in general but specifically being able to navigate across all types of media using a wide variety of devices…you just never know what you might have to improvise with to get the information, print something out or apply for a job.
    4. Using public transportation….many many countries and lots of big cities don’t rely on personal cars but on busses and trains.
    5. How to sleep anywhere…if you require very specific sleeping conditions it might be difficult to travel, be sick in a different city or country or be a good house guest.

  • I think everyone should know how to meditate!

  • Yikes! Looks like I have a lot to learn!

  • Awesome list. Looking forward to learning / actioning some of these new skills, as you are aware we never stop learning until the day we die. Knowledge is power, so get going and act up.

  • I agree with the teacher who inquired about checkbook balancing. So many young people today do not know how to manage their finances at all. Finance balancing and avoiding bad credit practices should definitely be on the list.

  • I wish my girlfriend would read #5 about learning to drive a manual transmission. I’m pretty sure she’s already ruined the clutch of my car and it’s only a 2008. Nice article.

  • Here’s one list of things I can say I’ve done completely, which probably makes me about 50.

  • What a great collection of tips!

  • I would add, “Learn to take a compliment.”

  • Julie Anna Bloodworth
    December 6th, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    This is a wonderful list. There is only 1 that I would leave off - HOLD A BABY.
    I know, particularly with me being a woman, that I should LOVE babies, love the way they smell, how they look and act, etc., but I’m just not a baby person - never have been.
    It’s not that I’m scared of holding one, it’s that I just don’t want to.
    Not everyone wants to be a parent, and to those of us that doesn’t, we don’t really want to hold anyone else’s either.

  • I’m off to learn how to parallel park (last time I did it was in my driving test, way too many years ago!) and jump start a car. Apart from that I’m now feeling surprisingly competent, so thanks very much for that!! :)

  • Uh, guess I’ve gotta dedicate some time to learn all of these things! Still 18, so I don’t have a problem with time. Thank you a lot. :)

  • What an excellent resource! I would add ‘Fix a broken toilet.’ Toilets are so basic and plumbers are SO expensive.

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