20% Time in 20 Hours: You Really Can Learn Anything

 Josh Kaufman’s recent book, “The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything Fast” really got me thinking. Many of us are familiar with Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hours” approach to becoming an expert. Kaufman takes another angle:

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.

Kaufman field tests his ideas throughout the book, and shows how you may not become a “master” but you’ll be able to code a website, learn and play the ukulele, in only 20 hours. This lead me to think about 20% time…for students, adults, and anyone. If we can devote 20% of our time to 20 hours of deliberate practice…we’ll learn enough to create a product or perform at a solid level. Here are the key ideas from Kaufmann’s book:

  • 10,000 hours=Master of your craft.
  • 20 hours=Got the basics and can now self teach/correct.

Steps to get there-

  1. Break down the skill to the main components.
  2. Learn enough to self-correct.
  3. Remove or get away from distractions.
  4. Practice for 20 hours or 30 minutes a day for 40 days or 64.5 episodes of some TV show you were going to watch instead.

His TEDx presentation is awesome, and ends with a performance of a 20%/20hr project!

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