We all strive to be our best. Daily we encounter people or difficult situations where our talents or skills are put to the test. Life is something you have no way of studying for. We can however, do our best to be well prepared and ready for what gets thrown our way.

Today I want to equip you with five of the most essential skills you need to learn to be successful. You may be a student finding your way, you may be a proven business partner looking to improve upon your already fundamental skills, or you simply may be someone in the middle. Whoever you are, wherever your skill set lies I am confident you will take these five essential skills and use them to your benefit.

5 Essential Skills to Learn for Free Online

1. Touch Typing

There is no way around it computers are a way of life. They remain to be a vital part of everyday activities; be it checking your e-mail, sending out invoices or simply playing a game in your free time. Computers are here to stay. Some of us were fortunate to take touch typing classes in school while some of us had to practice on our own. Either way it is crucial to know how to touch type. Not only how to do it, but there is increasing pressure on how to do it faster and accurate. If you are unsure of where you stand as far as speed and accuracy or just like to know for your own bragging rights take this typing speed test.

If your speeds are less than desirable do not worry, take some time and practice having your fingers hit the right keys. Once you memorize where your fingers need to go your speed will follow as well as your accuracy will improve. It all starts with learning the keys first. Be patient and do not give up. This is step number one to being the most effective in your day to day life that you can be.

2. Digital Communication

Once you have, or continue to master, touch typing everything else should build upon that. As mentioned earlier computers are not going away any time soon. With technology our communication has followed along the same digital path. We communicate through e-mails, web chats, instant messaging, and countless other ways technology has provided new communication tools. We communicate digitally more so than we do verbally face to face. It is essential that you come across in your communication via the internet as effective, persuasive and get your point across. Keep emails short and sweet. Get to the point of the problem or question. Do not use e-mails as your personal journal to air your grievances. No one has time to sift through your complaints to figure out what the problem is. You will be known as the one who sends a book each time you send an email, thus improving your chances that your emails will get pushed towards the end of the day or skipped entirely. There can be a lot of confusion with tones or the way conversations are perceived can get lost in translation, literally. It is important to establish the correct tone right away. Do not come across as snarky or negative, it will set the tone that this email is to complain and you will not get the most effective communication from this. You do not want to get sucked into a war of words, chances are you will not win and the most important thing you would have missed out on was your own time. Lastly, remember to proofread. This should be a no brainer you could have an eloquently worded e-mail, straightforward and to the point but full of typos or grammatical mistakes. You could be seen as not professional, someone in a hurry or simply depending on the error your whole e-mail could be misconstrued.

3. Effective Verbal Communication and Public Speaking

Just as we learned about touch typing and digital communication skills unless you are a hermit who never leaves the house you will have to have educated verbal communications throughout your life. You may be required to give oral presentations at school or work. You may be chosen to give speeches for special circumstances. You simply may be called upon to help train or answer questions for coworkers. The best way to master talking in front of others is to talk to yourself. This may seem silly but not as silly as when I say to talk to yourself in front of a mirror. It really works. You get used to hearing your own voice as well as seeing how you look when you are talking. Do you make a lot of hand movements? Do you need to pause and enunciate words better? Are you an enthused speaker or do you look dull and bored? All of these are mental notes to take to help you improve upon your verbal communication. Just like in the e-mail examples above, tone is important with verbal communication. Pay special attention because sometimes you will have to go out of your way to not say or respond rudely to some conversations. Once you do or say something you cannot easily take it back so make sure you think before you speak.

4. Writing Skills

I hope by now you are feeling confident in these essential skills. The fourth most essential skills come from our own thoughts. Words remain one of the most powerful and useful tools we have. They inspire change and greatness amongst us. They have the power to successfully complete a project, get a job or even promoted. It is important to write effectively, clearly and efficiently. Since it is rare that one is born with such great skills it takes time to learn how to properly write and a lot of practice to build upon those skills. If you already journal that is a great way to improve on your writing skills. If you are not a fan of journaling maybe take a few minutes a day to start writing out your thoughts. Each time you do this you will be practicing forming the correct word flow and structuring your sentences correctly.

5. Time Management

To come full circle one of the most essential skills you can possess is time management. You may be a master at the above skills but without proper use of time management you are the captain of a sinking ship. Without being able to manage your time the internet may be an endless display of distraction. Luckily there are a few tricks you can to do keep you on task. No one gets more than 24 hours in a given day so how you choose to spend it falls on you. Setting your priorities are goal number one to mastering your time. Once you set your priorities you can work off of that list to manage what is important for today and what can possibly wait for another time. Break your list into sections if need be. The most important tip, stay on task. If you take 20 minutes to check your e-mails or surf the web that is fine, but that is 20 minutes you could have completed the task sooner, freeing you up to do the next thing on your list.

I hope this list has encouraged you to continue striving for your best and motivated you to incorporate new tips and tricks into your daily life. Keep in mind changes frequently do not come overnight, these are things you may need to keep working towards improving.


My name is Adam Fort, I’m an education strategist at Ratatype.com. This project helps children and adults to learn touch typing via an online typing test and lessons. I am in charge of developing the proper typing lessons and exercise for typists who want to improve their typing speed. I also have a commercial pilot’s licence which I’m proud of.