With barely enough time to get your work done, and never enough time to go to the gym or properly dress your kids, carving out time for your own professional development seems… well, impossible. And picking up a new skill? Learning something new is super frustrating at the beginning, so no way!
But a new book caught our eye that claims you can learn a new skill in an hour. No, you won’t be an expert but you will be educated in something you didn’t know in the previous hour. Don’t believe us? Just read Josh Kaufman’s new book,“The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything…Fast”.
Kaufman, a business adviser in Colorado, decided to teach himself an array of skills in just one year. He successfully taught himself the ukulele, windsurfing, yoga, the ancient Chinese board game, Go, and….CODING. And he learned all of these skills in less than 20 hours each. Yoga took him only three!
So how’d he do it? The key was something Kaufman calls “rapid skill acquisition”. Firstly, he says this it “not academic learning in the sense of just acquiring knowledge and memorizing facts.” Phew, no standardized tests here. Rather, “during the first 20 hours of skill acquisition, you’re really in exploration mode. You’re trying to figure out what this thing is, how it works, if you like it and if it’s going to be worthwhile to keep going. So the method of the first 20 hours is going from zero to being reasonably good at something.”
Thus, the learning happens through the simple process of trying to learn. You don’t have to be an expert to write this new skill on your resume, and it certainly isn’t going to take your 10,000 hours to pick it up!
This book validates what we here at Skillcrush believe intensely, which is that it is possible to learn a new skill even when you are super busy working, raising kids and just, you know, living.
But, we still have to find those 20 hours or so in the week to learn! How do you find that time in your already super busy day? We’ve got some ideas:
- Waking up an extra 30 minutes early
It sounds painful but just having an extra 30 minutes in the morning to study a new craft is so worth it. Plus, if you learn before your check your email, your creative juices are flowing and you absorb information better!
- Working on it right after the work day
When you wrap up the work day don’t go home immediately. Instead go somewhere else (where you can’t lie on a couch or watch TV) where you know you can work on learning this new skill. If you put it off for later that night after you get home, you most likely won’t get to it (because you will totally get sucked into “The Bachelorette”.)
- Make a date night (with your Skillcrush class!)
Get a friend and make a plan to catch up on your Skillcrush class together. It’s harder to bail when you make plans with friends. And you have someone by your side to answer questions or talk things out. As we’ve said before, sometimes the process of just forming the question out loud can help you answer it. Plus, you can bring along cookies and not feel guilty eating them all!
- Learn on your commute
If you have a long commute (ideally, where you aren’t driving!) try to learn to your new skill then. Even if you’re in the car, you can listen to podcasts, watch video tutorials or just read and absorb.
- Eliminate other distractions
Turn off technology during your high-energy time, unless you need it to learn your skill. Figure out a time of day when you are able to focus the most, and eliminate all distractions for that short, defined period of time. Instead of a Skillcrush lesson taking you 2 hours of multi-tasking time, you’ll be able to power through in 20-30 minutes, and feel incredibly accomplished!
- Take a longer lunch
If you can, stretch that lunch out. Usually people are able to focus better before they eat (not eating the right food can increase grogginess), so try taking an early lunch and using half of it to power through your reading or exercises.
Bonus: 7. Give yourself a reward for starting
Most of the time, we think of giving ourselves a reward for finishing a task. But research shows that giving yourself a reward for starting keeps you motivated to finish! So break out that cupcake so it’s ready to go right next to your laptop when you install Ruby.
Meredith Lepore is a writer for Skillcrush and a freelance writer and editor who focuses on entrepreneurs, entertainment, fashion, puppies, celebrity motives and bags she wants.