The 20-Hour Rule

July 18th, 2016 by

We all want to become better at something. After all, learning new skills is necessary to give yourself an edge as you develop your career. For many years the 10,000 hour rule popularized by Malcolm Gladwell has been the standard for mastering skills. If you do the math, 10,000 hours equates to about 90 minutes of practice every day for 20 years!

6-Ways-to-Learn-New-Skills-OnlineThe truth is, to reach a reasonable and useful level of skill proficiency, you only need to commit yourself to 20 hours, not 20 years. Whether you want to become better at public speaking or learn HTML, you can develop the new skill by dedicating yourself to just 40 minutes of practice each day for one month.

So how exactly do you learn a new skill with the 20 hour rule?

  • 1. First, you need to decide what skills will help you on your career path. Then, you need to pre-commit to 20 hours of dedicated practice. The 20 hour rule is a good way to gauge interest in the skill. If you aren’t willing to schedule 40 minutes a day to learn a particular skill, then you should consider learning something else.


  • 2. Once you’ve committed to learning a new skill, break it down into smaller more manageable sub-skills. This eliminates the tendency to feel overwhelmed, making it easier to get started. You can break down a skill like HTML into first learning how to place tags, then how to manipulate text, then how to create links, and so on.


  • 3. After you’ve broken up a skill into sub-skills, decide which sub-skills are most important and focus on those first. By dedicating your early practice to the fundamental sub-skills you’ll notice a significant increase in your performance after just a few hours of commitment.

Need ideas for a new skill to develop? Check out one of Next Step Academy’s job skills courses.

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