When you think about learning something then you probably see the people who have mastered the skill and think about achieving their level of competence. However, you know that to get to the expert level, to be the best of the best, you need at least 10,000 hours of practice.
When you are faced with that number then it is easy to justify not doing anything at all. And as humans our default action seems to be no action. Josh Kaufman challenges this view and posits that you can get pretty good at anything in the first 20 hours.
As I wrote in a few years back Improve your life: Learn Something New you can make a decision to be pretty good at something and have fun with very little effort if you get over the initial feeling of incompetence.
Here are the steps to effectively learn new skills:
- De-construct the skill (do the most important parts first)
- Learn just enough to self correct
- Remove barriers to practice (create that habit)
- Practice at least 20 hours (get over the frustration barrier, remove the negative emotion)
The first 20 hours of learning is not that much. 45 minutes a day for one month and you’ll get the hang of pretty much anything. This lets you test out new skills at a rate of 12 skills per year and then you can make an informed decision if you want to continue to practice that skill or try something new.
The First 20 Hours book
There’s also a book The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast! by Josh Kaufman that has pretty good reviews and seems to be worth reading.
Book Description: Forget the “10,000 hour rule”… what if it’s possible to learn any new skill in 20 hours or less?
Take a moment to consider how many things you want to learn to do. What’s on your list? What’s holding you back from getting started? Are you worried about the time and effort it takes to acquire new skills – time you don’t have and effort you can’t spare?
Research suggests it takes 10,000 hours to develop a new skill. In this nonstop world when will you ever find that much time and energy?
To make matters worse, the early hours of practicing something new are always the most frustrating. That’s why it’s difficult to learn how to speak a new language, play an instrument, hit a golf ball, or shoot great photos. It’s so much easier to watch TV or surf the web…
In The First 20 Hours, Josh Kaufman offers a systematic approach to rapid skill acquisition: how to learn any new skill as quickly as possible. His method shows you how to deconstruct complex skills, maximize productive practice, and remove common learning barriers. By completing just 20 hours of focused, deliberate practice you’ll go from knowing absolutely nothing to performing noticeably well.
This method isn’t theoretical: it’s field-tested. Kaufman invites readers to join him as he field tests his approach by learning to program a Web application, play the ukulele, practice yoga, re-learn to touch type, get the hang of windsurfing, and study the world’s oldest and most complex board game.
What will you do with your first 20 hours? What do you want to learn?