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Learn Anything in 20 Hours

“Skill is the result of deliberate, consistent practice. And in early stage practice, quantity and speed trump absolute quality. The faster and more often you practice the more rapidly you’ll acquire the skill.” — Josh Kaufman

10 principles of learning skills rapidly

  1. Choose a project you LOVE.  “The best thing that can happen to a human being is to find a problem, to fall in love with that problem, and to live trying to solve that problem, unless another problem even more lovable appears.” – Karl Popper
  2. Focus your energy on one skill at a time. “If you don’t know where you’re trying to go or don’t have a solid strategy to get there, you can waste equal amounts of energy in unproductive wandering.”
  3. Define your target performance level.  Visualize where you want to be. Be specific. “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” –Charles Kettering
  4. Deconstruct the skill into sub skills. Eliminate the non-essential. Rapid skill acquisition is “a way of breaking down the skill you’re trying to acquire into the smallest possible parts, identifying which of those parts are most important, then deliberately practicing those elements first.”
  5. Obtain critical tools. Want to learn to play a guitar — first thing is you need a guitar. Review several solid how-to guides.
  6. Eliminate barriers to practice. Remove any physical (turn off the phone, internet, etc. ), mental, or emotional barriers that get in the way of practice. Arrange your environment to promote skill development.
  7. Dedicate time for practice. Schedule it on your calendar. Keep a log.
  8. Create fast feedback loops. A coach, video your practice, etc.
  9. Practice by the clock in short bursts. You only have so much willpower every day — use it wisely.
  10. Emphasize quantity and speed. “Skill is the result of deliberate, consistent practice, and in early-stage practice, quantity and speed trump absolute quality. The faster and more often you practice, the more rapidly you’ll acquire the skill.”

10 principles of effective learning

  1. Research the skill and related topics (but not too much)
  2. Jump in over your head
  3. Identify mental models and mental hooks
  4. Imagine the opposite of what you want
  5. Talk to practitioners
  6. Eliminate distractions
  7. Spaced repetition and reinforcement for memorization
  8. Scaffolds and checklists
  9. Make and test predictions
  10. Honor your biology
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