CAREER ADVANCEMENT / MAR. 08, 2015
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How to Get Good at Anything in Just 20 Hours

Sounds unrealistic and rather unachievable, doesn’t it? How can you ever get ‘good’ at something in a mere 20 hours? Well, the secret has been revealed in an interview with Josh Kaufman, the author of The First 20 Hours, a book which analyses ‘accelerated learning’.

Why is accelerated learning so important today? It is because so many of us desperately want or need to learn new skills to progress in life, but we do not have enough hours in the day to spend time researching and learning. As such, we need to develop a strategy that enables us to learn more in a shorter period of time.

The fact is you can become very good at something in a very short period of time, provided you are committed. Initially, 20 hours may not seem a like big commitment to make, but when you break it down to practising your new skill for 40 minutes every day for one month, it gives you a slightly different perspective on your commitment.

Research from Florida State University found that it takes approximately 10,000 hours to become the best at something, i.e. a professional golfer. But this is not what we are trying to achieve here. If you are simply hoping to become better at something and learn a new skill, it is perfectly achievable in just 20 hours.

Accelerated Learning Methodology

Step 1: Decide what you want

This applies to any skill you want to learn. You need to decide exactly what you want and why you are interested in it in the first place. You then need to set a target performance level so you can find a way to achieve it. For example, you cannot simply say you want to speak French; you need to target this to speaking French to the barman in your local bar. This is identifying your performance level.

Step 2: Deconstructing the skill

The act of learning to speak French is not one skill, but it is built up of many sub-skills. You need to identify these sub-skills, and more often than not you will find that three or four sub-skills are required to achieve your goal.

Step 3: Research

Do not waste time researching the whole process and everything about your desired skill. You need to research just enough to identify the sub-skills by finding sources of information to help you. Read books or take introductory online courses to discover what is required, and practise these skills. Do just enough to get you going and identify the key sub-skills first. Don’t do all the research in one go.

Step 4: Pre-commit to practising at least 20 hours

Steps 1 to 3 were your ‘set-up’ steps. Now is the actual commitment that needs to be done. Think very carefully about giving 20 hours of your life to this new subject area and decide if it is something you really can commit to.

Step 5: Rearrange your schedule to fit in 20 hours

Start planning how you will fit your 20 hours of learning into your schedule. You can do 40 minutes each day for one month as mentioned, or you can even commit to one hour per day and break this into two 20-minute segments. Whichever you decide, you need to practise this new skill every day.

Check out the video in this article, where Jonathan Fields delves into Josh Kaufman’s experience and knowledge of just how to get good at anything in 20 hours!

What did you think about the video? Have you read Kaufman’s book? Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments section below.

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