Not all skills are created equal. Not remotely close.

I’ve written many times in the past about skills you should learn to thrive and the most popular skills people want to learn but what about skills that you shouldn’t learn as to not waste precious time?

Below is such a list, categorized by the reason why you shouldn’t learn it:

*In this article, we’ll use this definition of the word skill: “the ability to do something well”.

8 skills that are simply unproductive

1. Devouring non-fiction books without taking notes

What’s the point of reading a book to learn something and immediately forget its lessons? Surprisingly, many people are good at this.

2. Speed reading a useless book

You can speed read? Great! Now use it on books you care about!

3. Memorizing information you can easily look up

You can recite me the full Wikipedia entry about Booby bird? Good for you. I can retrieve the same info in 0.2s and “save space” in my hippocampus for more important information.

4. Binge-watching Netflix for hours

And the winner for the “skill-of-the-decade” category goes to… that’s right, this one!

5. Binge-reading Medium articles without taking action

Guilty of mastering some of the skills in this article, including this one? Don’t just read, act.

6. Mastering menus when you can use keyboard shortcuts

You think you can use a computer and you’re still using your mouse to go to menus? Learn to use keyboard shortcuts and thank me for the time saved!

7. Making efficient things that shouldn’t be done at all

Thank you, Peter Drucker, for this great lesson! So many people are masters at this useless skill.

8. Mastering how to do something you’ll ever only do once

Guys, you don’t need to master everything you’re doing! Not everything will be repeated again.

7 skills that will become irrelevant in the near future or are already irrelevant

*This category is meant to be thought-provoking with no intention to insult anyone. Please take the suggestions here with a grain of salt.

9. Driving a car

Self-driving car technology is already there and already prevents many human errors. First world countries will phase “normal” cars in the following decades.

10. Learning a new language

We are very close to being able to communicate in our native languages and understand each other through technology. In the near future, learning a new language will be impressive but not that useful.

11. Translating text

Similar to the above, we’re not far from perfect translation technology due toMachine can already translate better than I would. Most times.

12. Phone sex

You like phone sex? Imagine VR (Virtual Reality) sex!

13. Non-basic arithmetics

Computers are millions of times better than us at it. Just use it.

14. Being ambidextrous in writing

Impressive? Sure. Useful? Debatable.

15. Cooking simple foods

Have you heard of 3D printed food? Yup, it’s a thing!

6 skills that are detrimental to your health

16. Sleeping less than you should

Terrible long term strategy. It has been proven to shorten your life span, yet many people are very good at that.

17. Sleeping more than you should

You know what? Sleeping too much is just as bad as not sleeping enough, with none of the benefits of not sleeping enough (AKA getting more sh*t done).

18. Eating tons of junk food

Phew, us North Americans master this skill like no one else. I hope you’re not surprised it made this list.

19. Drinking more alcohol than water

Our bodies need water. Stop neglecting it!

20. Eating too much sodium or sugar

I’d bet at least 80% of us are very skilled at that.

21. Eating late at night

Remember that you’re not burning as many calories while sleeping!

7 skills that are destructive to your relationships


22. Avoiding social interactions

Hermit life is really not for everyone. Secluding yourself makes it hard to adapt to needed quality social interactions.

23. Avoiding conflicts

Do you run away from conflicts and ignore your problems? Right. It’s a very common skill you can safely forget.

24. Playing superior

You think you’re better than others? How about you listen for a while and see for yourself.

25. Guessing what the other is thinking

You’re a mind-reader? Colour me jealous!

26. Blaming others for your own mistakes

You made a mistake, why do you blame it on someone else? Reflect before jumping to conclusions.

27. Making excuses you know are lies

Most people are masters of lying to themselves. Intentionally. You have permission, drop the excuses.

28. Hiding the truth

Is hiding the truth the same as lying? To some degree. With very few exceptions, honesty is always the answer.

12 skills you might not yet have but probably shouldn’t try too hard to pick up anyway


29. Eat a 72oz steak to get it for free, immediately regret it, then vomit your life in the toilet

How this trend got popular is beyond me…

30. Balancing a can of coke at various volumes

Sounds easy right? Pfft, show me!

31. Eating a Big Mac in one bite, then doing it again. For kicks.

That’s just gross. But I applaud it anyway. Now learn something useful!

32. Making a shadow puppet of a goat, complete with the horns and facial hair

That skill will not help you pick girls up but I wouldn’t be surprised if that makes it into the Playbook volume II.

33. Eating ridiculously spicy peppers and pretending like it’s nothing while deep down you’re about to die

Keep it just for us to laugh at you please.

34. Holding a fart in public

Wait, keep that one. Might come in handy.

35. Tabbing out of your opened porn browser tab at work

Why do you guys even watch porn at work?

36. Floss Dancing even though you know it’s not even that cool

How about you learn a useful dance, like Salsa for example?

37. Pen spinning while looking around to make sure someone saw your impressive feat

Where did you even practice that? Shouldn’t you be listening to your teacher or working instead?

38. Bouncing boobs individually after 10,000 hours of practice in the mirror

Impressive? Sure. Sexy? Nope. Useful? Debatable…

39. Playing video games while pretending to follow a phone conversation

Just find a clever way to end the conversation…

40. Finishing all 4,310 Candy Crush levels. Seriously.

Did they really need to create that many levels? I thought 200 was enough…

41. Chugging a beer from your butt at random parties

Okay, that’s just completely gross. I’d still clap for you though.

Now it’s personal!

Which one is your favourite useless skill from the list? What would you add to it? Which ones are you guilty have having acquired?

Here’s my list:

  • 5. Binge-reading Medium articles without taking action
  • 9. Driving a car
  • 10. Learning a new language
  • 16. Sleeping less than you should
  • 18. Eating tons of junk food
  • 20. Eating too much sodium
  • 23. Avoiding conflicts
  • 34. Holding a fart in public (except for the damn elevator…)
  • 39. Playing video games while pretending to follow a phone conversation

Now it’s your turn! Share and tag your friends and convince them to answer with their own useless skills.

Thanks for reading, sharing, and following! 🙂


  • Danny Forest

    Viking-looking polymath writing for today’s knowledge economy, building a more skillful tomorrow.

    I'm a top writer on, writing about Travel, Inspiration, Self Improvement, Productivity, Entrepreneurship, Life, Life Lessons, Startup, Photography, and more. My stories have inspired over a million people around the world. But outside of writing, I'm a Serial Entrepreneur, Software Engineer, Photographer, and Constant Learner.