Whether you’re studying for a test, trying to master the guitar or attempting to hold a conversation in another language, learning something new can be frustrating. Wanting to acquire a new skill is admirable, but how often do you give up? It might be because you feel like you aren’t grasping the material or because you simply don’t have enough time to practice.
Author Josh Kaufman decided to find an answer to the question: “How much time is needed to master a skill?” The answer he found: 10,000 hours! Not exactly encouraging is it? So Kaufman decided to ask another question: “How much time do you need to become reasonably good at a new skill?” What he found might just give you the encouragement you needed to keep going. Kaufman found that you only need about 20 hours to learn a new skill.
While 20 hours at the piano won’t turn you into Beethoven, it will make you good enough to play a few tunes at your next family get-together. Kaufman suggests four fundamental steps for leaning a new skill in just 20 hours.
1. Deconstruct The Skill
The first step is to analyze the skill. Ask yourself what you really want to know when you finish “learning.” If you’re studying a new language, do you want to become fluent speaker? Or do you just want to learn enough to be able to hold a basic conversation with someone? By setting your goals, you’ll be able to identify the most important things to practice.
2. Choose The Right Tools
Between three and five reliable sources should be enough to achieve your goal. Don’t go overboard on books, magazines, DVDs or other materials. You’ll end up drowning in the information and not being able to focus.
3. Remove Barriers
Get rid of anything that distracts you from doing your work. Turn off the T.V. and leave your cell phone in another room if electronics cause you to lose focus. By allowing something to get in the way of learning your new skill, you’re only wasting time.
4. Practice For At Least 20 Hours
Be willing to work for what you want. Invest at least 20 hours in learning your new skill. Understanding that you need to invest time in studying and practicing can help you overcome your frustration.
According to Kaufman, “The major barrier to skill acquisition isn’t intellectual… it’s emotional. We are scared to fail; we are scared to be embarrassed.” Using Kaufman’s guide, you no longer have an excuse not to try something new. By investing just 20 hours a month into something that interests you, you can obtain new knowledge and a new skill that you’re proud of.