By Chandler Walter, Editor-in-Chief
What would you want to learn, if you had the time to master it?
In a recent hours-long dive down the rabbit hole that is YouTube, I stumbled upon a series of videos titled “Learn Quick.”
The series is created by a man named Mike Boyd, a young, scruffy-bearded Irish guy who is self-professed as “not special, I’m not particularly smart, I’m not talented, learning just doesn’t take as much time as people think.”
The driving idea behind his videos is that he takes an everyday skill—be it juggling, doing a wheelie, throwing playing cards—and spends however much time he needs in reaching the milestone he has set for himself.
Sometimes, like when he learned how to split an apple with his hands, this can be done in a few minutes, other times it can be up to three months before he completes his goal. Either way, he always sees it through, and the Irish-accented joy that emits from him is always a highlight of the videos.
It seems like a pretty simple premise, right? If you want to learn how to do a kickflip, it stands to reason that you just go ahead and try to do a kickflip until it happens. What’s different about how he does it, however, is that he will spend every moment of his free time on the task at hand until it is completed.
It must help that he has incentive to complete the task due to his YouTube following and the need to release more videos, but he seems like the kind of guy who would aspire to learn these things even if the cameras weren’t on him.
Pan over to me, sitting in bed and having just spent a few hours idly browsing YouTube in my underwear—the same amount of time it takes him to learn a cool new skill.
It really had me wondering if I’m using the time I have wisely (I’m not). Sure there are a few things I’d like to learn how to do (whistling tops the list, but after 23 years of trying I’ve finally admitted defeat) yet I don’t find myself dedicating my precious free time to bettering myself in those things. For the most part I eat dinner, hang out with my girlfriend, play a few rounds of Overwatch, and then call it a night. I’m lucky enough that my day job incorporates the one thing I’m always aiming to better myself in—writing—but during my free evenings, sitting down to write creatively never seems to top my to-do list.
It probably should. Boyd’s videos drive home the fact that anything can be learned relatively quickly, as long as the person learning is willing to put in that time. Some of what he’s learned will definitely come in handy down the line for him, too—who wouldn’t want to be able to open a bottle with basically anything found around the house, or easily pick a lock—and those life-long skills were acquired in only a few hours, right before my eyes.
It just goes to show that becoming better at something doesn’t take an all-consuming dedication; it just takes the ability to see things through to the end, and a willingness to make it through the awkward and embarrassing beginning stage.
So maybe those hours sunk into watching YouTube videos really were productive after all.
Hah, who am I kidding. I’d better get to work.