Learn a Skill in 20 hours?

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Is there something you really want to learn but haven't got the time? I have about 100 skillsets I'd love to learn. No matter what it is, it's definitely going to take SOME time, but really, how long does it really take to learn something new? Could the answer be 20 hours? Josh Kaufman says it is.

The Major Barrier is Emotional
Josh Kaufman says it’s not skill that holds you back. You are up against yourself. The biggest barrier is emotional. If you can get over the hump of feeling incompetent or silly or awkward, you open new doors and you are on your way to a life of learning. He maintains if you can invest 20 hours to learn your new skill, this will help you get over the initial “frustration barrier.” This mental barrier holds so many people back from learning new things, exploring new interests, or realizing their potential.

From The First 20 Hours — How To Learn Anything:

”... by pre-committing to practicing whatever it is that you want to do for at least 20 hours, you will be able to overcome that initial frustration barrier and stick with the practice long enough to actually reap the rewards.”

So, how?

1. Deconstruct the skill

From The First 20 Hours — How To Learn Anything:

“The first is to deconstruct the skill. Decide exactly what you want to be able to do when you’re done, and then look into the skill and break it down into smaller pieces. Most of the things that we think of as skills are actually big bundles of skills that require all sorts of different things.

The more you can break apart the skill, the more you’re able to decide, what are the parts of this skill that would actually help me get to what I want? And then you can practice those first. And if you practice the most important things first, you’ll be able to improve your performance in the least amount of time possible.”

2. Learn Enough to Self-Correct
From The First 20 Hours — How To Learn Anything:

“The second is, learn enough to self correct. So, get three to five resources about what it is you’re trying to learn. Could be books, could be DVDs, could be courses, could be anything.

But don’t use those as a way to procrastinate on practice. I know I do this, right? Get like 20 books about the topic, like, ‘I’m going to start learning how to program a computer when I complete these 20 books.’

No. That’s procrastination. What you want to do is learn just enough that you can actually practice and self correct or self edit as you practice. So the learning becomes a way of getting better at noticing when you’re making a mistake and then doing something a little different.”

3. Remove Practice Barriers
Via The First 20 Hours — How To Learn Anything:

“The third is to remove barriers to practice. Distractions, television, internet. All of these things that get in the way of you actually sitting down and doing the work.

And 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, right?”

4. Practice at least 20 hours
Keep making small improvements over 20 hours. Spend about 45 minutes a day for a month, and focus on continuous improvement and learning. Your little improvements will compound over the course of a month.

OK. So what's a fundamental skill I would like to do well at? I have decided I want to learn to draw. Not Michelangelo-level masterpieces. I want to be able to draw well enough that if I design a mask, character, prop, or scene, that I can share it with someone else and they'll know just what I am after. Sketching. Josh Kaufmanset his sights on learning a particular medley on the ukulele.

I decided I want to be able to draw this picture:
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I've never seen the movie, but I like the elements in the pic. It's got a character in an interesting costume, a cool truck, and it's outside. I figure if I can create something that looks like this, I'll have gained the basic skills to design other things.

I've drawn stuff before, of course. I've done rough sketches of my Renaissance Festival cart to build it. As a kid, I drew spaceships and occasionally faces. They were all very childish or basic. Twenty hours seems like enough to know if I have any hope of drawing something cool.

So, I'm off to do the first 3 steps. I'm going to go read some articles and watch videos on sketching and drawing so I can understand both "deconstruct" the skills and maybe self-edit. If I do my practice early in the morning, I am mostly free from distractions. After that, I just have to actually do the work! :-)

I'll record my progress here. That's what "blogs" are really supposed to be, right?

What skills do YOU want to acquire?

Happy haunting!