11. Sticking to a budget
“It’s amazing how many people can’t do the simplest of things — like balance a checkbook, fill out a tax form, make sure that there’s more coming in than going out, [set] aside reserves for contingencies,” writes Miles Fidelman.
Let’s start with making sure that “there’s more coming in than going out,” which is essentially about adhering to a budget. We rounded up the best budgeting tips from readers who have shared their budgets with Business Insider.
For example, you’ll want to anticipate any major costs in the near future — like if you’re planning to have a kid or go back to school. It’s also wise to set aside an emergency fund with several months’ worth of expenses in case the unexpected occurs.
12. Using basic Photoshop
There’s no need to call in a professional to touch up the headshot you’re posting to your personal website — you can do that yourself, using a few basic Photoshop tools.
“In the professional world few things have helped me more than knowing Photoshop,” says Brad Sanzenbacher.
You can sign up for a free 30-day trial here or download thefree app for iOS that lets you retouch photos.
13. Spending time alone
As an adult, you should be able to spend a full day alone without going crazy for want of social interaction.
Take a tip from Quora user Brad Sanzenbacher, whose partner travels often for grad school:
I approach being alone with a very specific list of things that only I want to do. I go to weird museums, see movies that only I want to see, take mini-road trips, or see bands that only I like.
If you’re planning to live alone, which many Americans do today, you should accept that you will occasionally feel lonely. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or upset about, but it might be a signal that you should incorporate some more socializing into your daily schedule.
14. Public speaking
You may not ever be required to perform in a Super Bowl halftime show, but you’ll almost certainly be tasked with making presentations at work. For that reason, it’s important to hone your public-speaking skills.
“The ability to speak confidently to a large mass of people is a skill to be learnt,” writes Ramachandra Bhakta. “It makes a lasting impression and brings you to the notice of several people at once.”
If the mere prospect of walking your coworkers through a PowerPoint gives you nightmares, then there are strategies to quell your fear. One research-backed tactic is to reframe your anxiety as excitement, which can make you seem more competent and persuasive.
You can also strike a “power pose” before the presentation — one example is to stand with your legs wide and your hands on your hips to make you feel more like a leader.
Several Quora users cited negotiation skills as important for any professional.
If you’re negotiating your salary — which you should do — the best strategy for getting what you want and still coming off as friendly is to ask for a range including and above your target number. For example, if you’re aiming for a $100,000 salary, you’d suggest a $100,000 to $120,000 salary.
Another trick is to frame your proposal in terms of what you’re giving the other person as opposed to what they’re losing. So instead of saying, “I want $10,000 for my car,” you’d say, “I’ll give you my car for $10,000.”
16. Cooking basic meals
You don’t need to be Julia Child to sustain yourself or impress fellow guests at a potluck.
“Know how to cook at least five dishes,” writes Erin Nakano O’Quinn. “These are likely to be dependent upon the culture you live in, but be able to cook at least one vegetarian dish, a breakfast dish, a dish that you can serve to a group of people, a dessert, and a starch. Try to be able to do these without a cookbook, and you can look like a rockstar wherever you go.”
17. Making small talk
Conversation skills always come in handy, whether you’re chatting up cuties at your local bar or networking at a professional conference.
One of the most important rules of making small talk is to demonstrate interest in your conversation partner and let him share information about himself. Another tactic is to flatter your partner, so that she feels better about herself after having spoken to you.
18. Backing up your electronics
Having your phone die or your computer stolen is nerve-racking enough. Saying goodbye to all your important information with those gadgets is even worse.
Be responsible and back up your data.
PC World has a comprehensive guide to backing up pretty much everything, including what exactly to back up and how often to do it. And we’ve rounded up all the tools you’ll need.
19. Asking for help
There’s nothing shameful about asking for a little advice or assistance, especially at work.
In fact, research suggests that soliciting advice can make you look more competent. That’s likely because people feel flattered that you turned to them in the first place.
If you’re looking for general career advice, entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss told Inc., it’s best to ask someone who became successful quickly and against the odds, instead of someone with a more conventional story.
20. Picking up a date
Approaching an attractive stranger and starting a conversation is a terrifying prospect for pretty much every normal person.
But there are ways to reduce your anxiety and the chance that you’ll come across as a bumbling fool.
One study found that men tend to prefer direct approaches, like “You’re cute — can I buy you a drink?” Women, on the other hand, generally prefer more open-ended questions, like “What do you think of this band?”
Very few people in the study said that they preferred standard pick-up lines — so it’s best to avoid those, no matter how clever you think you are.