If you are even just a little like me, there isn’t enough hours in a day to learn everything you want to.
And that is fair.
We all get the same amount of hours per day. How we use them, is up to us.
Quite a few times, I came across people, who talk about different ways to learn something fast – in a matter of 15 – 20 hours.
Is that really possible? Could be.
I’m going to walk you through the best practices and methods I could find, that you can use to learn things faster.
I personally haven’t tried any of these methods yet, but that is the point – after this I will try my best to apply these methods in my daily life to learn something new, something that I am a completely clueless beginner at. And we will see what will work, and what won’t (so a follow up blog post is definitely in the makings).
In this post, I am going to talk about the learning master – Josh Kaufman – and his techniques. There are two reasons for that.
Firstly, He is the first person from who I heard about rapid skill acquisition years ago. Secondly, it seems that his ideas about learning are recycled by others, which in essence make them all very similar.
“If you learn to practice in an intelligent, strategic way, there’s no limit in what you can learn.”Josh Kaufman
According to Kaufman, rapid skills acquisition is about “simple, systematic way to spend your time and energy doing things that help you build real skills, and avoid things that don’t”.
Let’s get into his ways!
1. Define and Set Your Target
You need to define what you want to achieve in order to be able to achieve it.
Define what your goal is – what you want to be able to do after you finish those 15 – 20 hours of practice.
You should choose one skill only (at least to begin with). If you spread yourself too thin on too many skills that you want to achieve, you will risk not improving fast enough in any of them.
After you have more experience practicing these methods, you could get to Danny Forest level, and aim to learn as many as 3 new skills every month!
I know from experience that choosing one skills is very difficult, especially if your list of things you want to try and learn goes on and on.
What Josh Kaufman recommends is to indeed make that list of yours, including all the skills you want to learn.
Every time you look at your list, ask yourself “If I could only learn half of the skills on this list, which ones would I keep?” – and cut your list in half. Do that as many times as it takes, until you have just one skill left.
Don’t throw away the rest of the list though – leave it for the future.
2. Divide and Conquer
Most of the skills that you might want to learn can be divided in to smaller sub-skills. Doing this, will allow you to have a more concentrated practice. It is also way less overwhelming to try to learn something, when you have a plan in front of you.
Breaking down the skill helps to identify the key areas, the most important sub-skills. Concentrating and learning these will help you improve faster and acquire a skill quicker.
When you want to learn something completely unfamiliar, it can be daunting to try to divide that skill in to separate sub-skills.
What Josh Kaufman advices, is to use a 80/20 research tactic to identify most important sub-skills.
It works like this:
- Find a few books, courses, DVDs or other resources about the skill.
- Skim them all, one after another.
- Identify the most important skills by taking notes of the techniques and ideas that are mentioned in various resources.
- Put that knowledge to practice.
Kaufman cautions that one to two hours of research usually is enough, claiming that “too much research is a subtle form of procrastination”.
In essence, spend some time researching and identifying the key sub skills of the one skill you want to learn, but don’t spend too much time at this stage.
Whereas this stage is important and will give you directions, practice is where the real learning happens.
3. Schedule In Your Practice
We are all busy, so the excuse that ‘there is not enough time’ is also well known to most people.
Don’t let this idea of not having enough time to trap you and prevent you from learning and doing what you want to do. It is your time, and you should take control of it.
The next best thing that you can do for yourself to guarantee success is to use time-blocks.
Whatever form of calendar you use to plan your days and schedule in your meetings, take it out.
Decide what time of the day you can practice. Maybe you watch too much TV in the evening, maybe you could get up earlier, maybe you have a long lunch break and could use that time to practice your skill for 30 minutes.
Whatever time of the day you choose, schedule that in. Add it in your calendar. Put an end to the ‘no time’ excuse.
4. Avoid Being Too Ambitious
Don’t aim to finish all 15 – 20 hours in one week.
A lot of famous and successful people like Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey use what is known as a 5 hour rule – no matter what happens throughout the week and how much work they have, they schedule in 5 hours of learning.
That’s 4 weeks dedicated to learning a new skills.
That’s less that an hour every day OR 1 hour 5 days a week, if you prefer.
A lot of successful people credit their success to learning new things and reading. If Elon Musk could learn how to build rockets from reading, so can you (3).
I hope you will give a try to this technique to learning something that you always wanted.
I certainly am.
I always had quite a few things on my list that I alway wanted to learn, if only I would have time. No more of that. I will make time. And if you want to learn something new, you should too.
Let me know what would you want to learn and if you tried this technique before!