How to use the First 20 Hours Method: Learn New Skills Fast

You may have heard that it takes 10,000 hours to learn a new skill.

Well this simply isn’t the case. Author Josh Kaufman explains that this 10,000 hour rule was a number of hours that individuals required to become a world-class performer. Josh demonstrated that all you need to get a decent grasp of a skill is 20 hours of dedicated learning.

10 Principles of Rapid Skill Acquisition

If our goal is to learn a new skill in 20 hours, then you might have realised you’ll need to learn pretty fast! Kaufman outlines 10 principles of rapid skill acquisition that you should keep in mind.

  1. Choose a lovable project.
  2. Focus your energy on one skill at a time.
  3. Define your target performance level.
  4. Deconstruct the skill into sub-skills.
  5. Obtain critical tools.
  6. Eliminate barriers to practice.
  7. Make dedicated time for practice.
  8. Create fast feedback loops.
  9. Practice by the clock in short bursts.
  10. Emphasize quantity and speed.

The First 20 Hours Method

Once you have picked a skill to learn, the first task is to deconstruct the skill into smaller sub-skills.

For example, when learning graphic design, you might split the skill into (1) how to use the software, (2) understanding design theory, (3) how to sell your design services, etc.

You must attempt to learn enough about each of these sub-skills that you can self-correct during your dedicated practice. This will prevent going back and forth between study materials.

The next step involves removing any barriers to practice. These could be physical, mental, or emotional. Be conscious about what is stopping you practising. Is it a distracted practice environment? Or even a belief that you’re not capable of learning this new skill?

Once you have completed these three steps, the only thing to do is to complete 20 hours of dedication practice.

Once you’ve completed the 20 hours, you will have a good grasp of your chosen skill. You might not be world-class yet, but you’ll have taken the fastest and most efficient route to acquire the essentials. Let’s recap quickly!

  1. Deconstruct the skill into the smallest possible sub-skills.
  2. Learn enough about each sub-skill to be able to practice intelligently and self-correct during your practice.
  3. Remove any physical, mental, and emotional barriers that get in the way of your practice.
  4. Practice the most important sub-skills for at least twenty hours.

Further Resources

If you want to learn more about the First 20 Hours learning method, then here are some resources to get you going!

If you want an extra boost to your learning, check out our explanation of how the brain learns new information efficiently.