20 hours

Learn a new skill in 20 hours

Research has found out that ik takes about 10.000 hours of practice to become a master in anything. But: Its not the hours that needs clocking its the result of the time spent...

However, what we talk about is a different kind of game: Learning a new skill

In his book, The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast, American author Josh Kaufman explains how you can pick up a new skill much faster than you think. He breaks down his method into five steps to get you started on your next learning curve, be it playing the ukulele, picking up programming or trying out windsurfing -- all in 20 hours.

Set your target
Kaufman suggests focusing on one skill at a time, narrowing it down to a specific discipline, then setting realistic goals. "If you're learning golf, being on the PGA tour after 20 hours' practice is not going to happen," he says. "But learning how to tee off in a reasonably straight line, fairly consistently -- you could totally do that within 20 hours."

Break it down
"Most of the things we think of as skills, such as learning a new language, aren't one skill -- they're a bundle of smaller ones," Kaufman explains. Deconstruct your chosen activity into two or three sub-skills. Setting out to achieve these smaller goals in isolation will be more manageable than trying to learn everything at once.


Hit the books
"Research enough to start practising, but not so much that it is procrastination," says Kaufman. Spend one or two hours reading up on your skill before you give it a go -- and skim through five books rather than examining one in depth: the techniques that keep reappearing are the ones to focus on. And talk to a practitioner of your skill to get an idea of aims and goals.

Just do it
Actually focusing on the task is often the hardest step, so Kaufman suggests you turn off your TV and phone, and block the internet. Then, reduce "friction" -- any unnecessary energy it takes to get started: "If the guitar is in its case, you're not going to practise as much as if you took it out of the case and put it on a stand right where you sit all the time."

Make a commitment
Pre-commit to at least 20 hours of practice. Little and often is best; you'll reach 20 hours by doing 45 minutes daily for around a month. "I find hours one to four are terrible," says Kaufman. "Around hour three or four you start to get the hang of it and see some results." Once you've completed 20 hours, decide if you want to continue, or try a new activity.

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