Rapid Skill Acquisition in Just 20 Hours

February 12, 2017 by Jason Smith

In Josh Kaufman’s TED talk, The first 20 hours — how to learn anything, he describes how a skill can be acquired in about 20 hours. This is in stark contrast to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule. Here is the trick though. Malcom’s 10,000 hour rule is to become a master of a skill while Josh’s to quire a skill to the point of practical use. Thankfully, the vast majority of time you only need practical use of a skill, not to be a master.


Below is a summary of the steps outlined in the TED talk.

Step 1: Deconstruct the Skill

Decide exactly what you want to be able to do when you’re done. Look into the skill and break it down into smaller and smaller pieces.

Most skills are really a big bundle of skills.

The more you can break apart the skill, the more you’re able to decide what are the parts that will actually help me get to what I want. And then practice those first.

If you practice the most important things first, you will be able to improve your skills in the least amount of time possible.

Step 2: Learn Enough to Self-Correct

Get 3-5 resources about what it is you’re going to learn. Books, DVDs, Course, etc.

Don’t use these as a reason to procrastinate on practicing.

You want to learn just enough that you can actually practice and self-correct, or self-edit as you practice.

Step 3: Remove Practice Barriers

Remove distractions. Internet, Television, all the things that get in the way of you actually sitting down, and doing the work.

The more you’re able to use just a little bit of willpower to remove the distractions that are keeping you from practicing, the more likely you are to actually sit down and practice.

Step 4: Practice for at Least 20 Hours