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Have you heard of the 10,000-hour rule? It’s the theory that you can become an expert at anything with 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. The theory was first posited in a 1993 paper published in Psychological Review and later became a pop culture phenomenon thanks to Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers.” The problem is that scientists have done a good job of debunking it. Simply put, it takes more than practice to become an expert in most things.
Luckily, we don’t have to be an expert at most things; we just have to do them reasonably well, and according to Josh Kaufman, author of “The First 20 Hours,” we can go from knowing nothing to performing reasonably well with just 20 hours of focused and deliberate practice.
Kaufman explains his 20-hour method in the 2013 TEDx Talk in the video above. Here’s a quick rundown of his four-step method:
- Break the skill down: Deconstruct the skill and identify the most important parts. Practice those parts first. For example, if you want to learn how to play the guitar, knowing just a few of the most basic chords allows you to play a ton of songs.
- Self-correction: Use reference materials to learn enough about the skill to know when you’re making a mistake. Recognizing you made a mistake allows you to correct your mistake.
- Break down barriers: Learning requires focus. Seek out and remove anything that is distracting you from focusing on the skill you’re trying to learn.
- Practice: Practice for at least 20 hours.
20 hours of practice won’t make you an expert, but it will give you a basic level of competence, which is all you really need for most things.
So what are you waiting for? Set aside 40 minutes a day for the next month to practice learning something you’ve always wanted to learn.