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.

Check out these books for more ideas on pertinent life skills:


  1. LaRubia says

    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.

  2. Shanaldo says

    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.

  3. Theresa says

    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.

  4. says

    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.

  5. says

    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.

  6. says

    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.

  7. Julie Anna Bloodworth says

    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.

  8. Mel says

    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!! :)

  9. Mariam says

    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. :)

  10. Susan says

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

  11. Lizanne says

    WOW! I can probably spend a LOT of time learning to do all those things. At least I can tick more than half already. Great list, thank you!

  12. says

    Love your site! Wow … the first one, build a fire, is fundamental but it’s interesting that the next two are computer-related!
    Then, number 5 reminds me of my High-School electronics teacher who said “the vacuum tube will never replace the transistor!
    Anyway …. love your list …. good fodder for conversation!


  1. […] 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) […]

  2. […] 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. […]

  3. […] 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) […]

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