How to Learn Anything in 20 Hours

By Y K Gupta       Updated on April 15, 2020

How to learn anything in 20 hours depicted by a watch in the hand

Photo by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash

In my article how to attain expertise, I have discussed the 10000 hour rule of attaining expertise in your chosen field. And now in this article I am going to discus- how to learn anything in 20 hours- for you.

And you are lucky that it is possible to learn almost anything in 20 hours.

The concept of 20 hour rule has been pioneered by Josh Kaufman in his book titled The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything…Fast! In this book Kaufman emphasized that you can learn a skill in just 20 hours.

In his this interview  with Dan Schawbel, he further explains nitty-gritty of his- learn anything in 20 hours- rule.

So you want to learn a new skill in 20 hours

You don’t want to put in 10000 hours of deliberate practice. If you are above 35, you have an excuse that it is too much time to put in at this age.

And if you are below 35 then, yes, you once again don’t want to put in 10000 hours of deliberate practice as you are in a hurry to get the quick results if not instant.

So, this how to learn any skill in 20 hours rule, is  here for everyone who want to learn a new skill quickly  in just 20 hours.

Difference between 10000 hour rule of attaining expertise in your chosen field and how to learn anything in 20 hours rule

Learn anything in 20 hours depicted by a woman singing in colorful dress
Learn anything in 20 hours

Most important difference between 10000 hour rule of attaining expertise in your chosen field and rule of learning anything in 20 hours is that-

while 10000 hours of deliberate practice are needed for mastering a skill to its highest possible level.

The 10000 hour rule is needed for attaining an expertise of Olympic level in some games and sports like gymnastics, boxing and chess or authoring a New York Times best seller book.

However, at the same time, any skill can be learnt up to a reasonable level in just 20 hours of deliberate practice. 

You might have experienced this phenomenon many time in your life. And you already posses many  skills on which you haven’t put 10000 hours of deliberate practice for learning.

You can learn almost any skill in 20 hours if you follow the right process

Examples of such skills are many like reading, writing, how to ride a bicycle and then a motor bike, these examples can be countless.

To further explain the difference between 10000 hour rule and 20 hour rule, I would like to state that if you decide to become a singer of the stature of Elvis Presley then you have to practice as per 10000 rule.

However, if you just want to learn how to sing then practice as per 20 hours rule will get you there. Later on you may continue to learn and practice if you  want to hone your skill further .

The process of learning any skill in just 20 hours

However, for learning a new skill in a better manner, practice for just 20 hours would not be enough. Rather it will require practicing the skill in those 20 hours intelligently or deliberately. So what does practicing intelligently or deliberately means?

Let’s find out directly from Josh Kaufman in this video-

Josh Kaufman insists that for learning a skill in just 20 hours, you have to practice in these 20 hours intelligently. Now let us find out what Josh Kaufman means by the term- practice intelligently.

To learn a new skill in just 20 hours of practice you have to go under the regimen of these four components of 20 hour rule-

1. Deconstruct or dismantle the skill you want to learn

This mean breaking down the task in small pieces, so it becomes easy to learn. Further, it also helps you to find out what is more important and what is not that important. Then you have to focus more on what is more important for learning that particular skill in 20 hours.

2. Learn enough to self correct

Unlike the 10000 rule where emphasis was on having a teacher in person, 20 hours rule stipulates to learn from anywhere you can learn. It may be a teacher in person, good books on the subject or from internet courses and lessons.

But, you have to learn enough so in absence of a teacher in person, you can self correct your mistakes and improve from there.

It is very important to not to repeat your mistakes as if you keep repeating the same mistakes time and again, chances that you learn a new skill in 20 hours will become very bleak.

So learn from your mistakes. Don’t repeat your mistakes and practice for 20 hours with an intention of improving with every passing day of practicing the new skill.

3. Remove the distractions

If possible, have a place to practice free of distractions. It pays if you practice at same place and same time as it leads to development of a disciplined approach towards learning, which is so very important not only for learning a skill but also achieving anything in your life.

A mindless repetition doesn’t improve your skill. To learn a new skill you have to practice deliberately. And deliberate practice means that those 20 hours you have to invest in learning the new skill, distraction free.

So, make your place of practice as distraction free as possible if you want to learn any new skill in just 20 hours.

4. Practice at least for 20 hours

Learn anything in 20 hours depicted by a woman learning piano
Learn anything in 20 hours

The other component worth remembering, about 20 hour rule is that you have to practice at least for 20 hours to learn a new skill.

Although, practice for 20 hours is not such a tall order, yet some people will tend to give up in between due to frustration generated by slow progress in the beginning.

As in beginning you might think as if you are not making any progress or your performance is not up to the mark. Please be aware of this emotional block and continue to practice at least for 20 hours, if you want to learn a new skill.

As you learn as per the process called steps and jumps. Initially you lean in baby steps, then your learning gets momentum and you start learning in substantial chunks described as jumps.

Think no further, start learning a new skill now

So, if you are among the people who have any enthusiasm for the life and if you want to live a life of achievements and recognition and have some fire inside you to do something of any importance then you have this idea of practicing for 20 hours here as a blessing to your dreams. And think how easy it is to achieve the results.

As what you need to learn a new skill is deliberate practice of just for 20 hours. You can’t say no to this.

So pick up paper and pen and just write down what you always wanted to learn and you felt enthusiastic toward.

This may be some game or sport, some activity, playing of some musical instrument, singing, cooking, gardening anything which interests you. Further, I would suggest not stopping after learning just one skill but learn one new skill every month.

You can learn up to 12 new skills in a year by applying how to learn anything in 20 hours rule

WOW, it adds up to 12 new skills per year. How satisfying and how rewarding does it feel. So think no further and start following your interests and hobbies you always wanted to follow so much, but could not learn due to non availability of clear understanding of how much time does it take to learn a new skill.

And you always believed that learning a new skill is an uphill task.

But now you have this power of knowledge of how to learn anything in 20 hour rule in your hand. So wait no further and start learning a new skill you always craved to learn so much. Now!

Wish you all the success in your new endeavor!

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Y K Gupta

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Author: Y K Gupta

Author, Blogger, former AGM State Bank of India (SBI)

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