Reading Length: 7 minutes
1. Forget the 10,000 hour rule. Focus on the first 20 hours.
We often hear that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill but this is for the elite level and in an ultra competitive field. In reality, it can actually just take 20 hours of deliberate practice. From Josh Kaufman, author of “The First 20 Hours: Mastering the Toughest Part of Learning Anything,” here are 4 simple methods of acquisition:
- 1. Deconstruct the skill. Break apart the skill. Decide what you want to be able to do when you’re done. Practice the most important things first
- 2. Learn enough to self correct. Follow other resources like courses, books, DVDs but be aware of procrastination.
- 3. Remove practice barriers. Remove distractions like TV and the internet. But the major barrier is emotional. You need to overcome initial frustrations.
- 4. Practice for at least 20 hours. That’s about 45 minutes a day for a month even with some gaps.
2.Teach it to someone else.
This can be referred to as the protégé effect which involves the act of teaching or pretending to teach in order to learn and master the material. This helps you learn because it increases metacognitive processing, enhances learning strategies, increases motivation and feelings of competence. For example, by sharing all this material with you, it also helps me retain the knowledge as well. Each time I make a new blog post or book summary, I find myself learning so much more. So try finding your own way to teach. Is there a family member or friend you can share your knowledge with? Or, can you write a video tutorial, blog post or book report? From Effectiviology, here are some ways to teach to learn:
- Learn the material as if you’re going to teach it to others. This could mean learning it in order to feel comfortable enough to explain it to someone else later.
- Pretend you’re teaching the material to someone. Make it as realistic as possible and make use of visualization. You can even imagine the questions that will arise from the other person.
- Teach the material to other people in reality. You can do either a one-on-one or a group setting.
3. Use spaced repetition.
In a study from the University of Surrey Business School in England involving 600 business students, it showed that students who took regular 10 minute breaks over an hour remembered a fifth more than those who sat through an hour-long lecture.
According to Benedict Carey, author of “How We Learn,” , he gathered data based on a study published in 2008 with over 1,300 subjects who were given a test date. Here’s his result:
|Time to Test||First Study Interval|
|1 week||1-2 days|
|1 month||1 week|
|3 months||2 weeks|
|6 months||3 weeks|
|1 year||1 month|
Based on this graph, we can estimate how long of a gap we should have in between our study sessions. As Thomas Frank, YouTuber, author and musician explains:
A good way to practice spaced repetition is through an SRS (space repetition software) such as SuperMemo and Anki. I personally love to use Anki for Spanish learning. If the word is familiar, then you can click on “easy” in order to review it again later on with a longer gap. Here is an example of how my practice sessions look like:
4. Take notes by hand.
Computers and phones have become the most common way to take notes due to its speed and convenience. But research has shown that there are benefits to writing down information by hand for better processing and understanding of the material. Along with writing, sketching and drawing have shown to be helpful. From Hetty Roessingh, writer on the conversation:
5. Take a study nap.
Research shows a relationship between sleep and memory. That’s why a good night’s sleep is important to better performance and memory while poor sleep is linked to memory problems.
6. Change up your practice.
The way you practice matters. Sometimes just by making small changes can make an impact on your learning. This could be due to a process known as reconsolidation which involves memory recollection to form new knowledge. From Jeff Haden, a keynote speaker, ghostwriter, LinkedIn Influencer, editor to Inc. and author of “The Motivation Myth”,
- Rehearse the basic skill. Keep repeating your skill a couple of times as practice.
- Wait. Give yourself at least six hours so your memory can consolidate.
- Practice again but try the following:
- Go slightly faster.
- Go a little slower.
- Break down into smaller parts.
- Practice under different conditions.
Recently, I found myself hitting a plateau for Spanish learning. I nearly gave it up because I felt that I was not getting anywhere. But I decided to try changing up my routine and breaking it down by days. For example, on Mondays to Thursdays, I would practice grammar. On Fridays, I would practice listening comprehension and pronunciation. And on weekends, I would practice vocabulary. I found this to be effective and motivating for me since it leaves practice sessions more manageable and fresh.
7. Force yourself to recall.
Rereading, summarizing, and highlighting may not be enough to truly learn the information we come across. Studies have shown that active recall is much more effective as it is linked to long-term memory. The point is to practice retrieving information from our memory. Here are some active recall strategies:
Closed book method.
From BrainScape, the SQ3R is:
- Survey: Skim through the material to get an idea of what it is about.
- Question: Create some questions you think the text might answer.
- Read: Actively read the text and try to answer the questions you created.
- Retrieve: Recall from memory the information you learned either orally or in writing.
- Review: Repeat back the point of the material and summarize what you learned.
8. Say out loud what you want to remember.
The act of reading or saying out loud the material can provide more clarity and understanding. From Ulrich Boser, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress:
- Talk to yourself. Even though it is not advised to do this in public, self-explaining can help with organizing and knowing our own thoughts.
- Ask why. When we keep asking “why,” we can keep searching for more answers and follow up questions to better understand the material.
- Summarize. We can practice this by verbally summarizing instructions given to us.
- Make connections. We should look for relationships between things. We can make use of mnemonics too.
- 1. Forget the 10,000 hour rule. Focus on the first 20 hours. Deconstruct or break apart the skill. Learn enough to self correct. Remove practice barriers. Practice for at least 20 hours.
- 2.Teach it to someone else. Learn the material as though you’re going to teach it to others. Pretend you are teaching it to someone. Teach the material in reality.
- 3. Use spaced repetition. This is spacing out study sessions. Multiple studies have shown the effectiveness of spaced repetition. You can also use an SRS (space repetition software). Refer back to the graph above for an estimated space repetition time frame.
- 4. Take notes by hand. Writing allows better processing and understanding of material. Consider switching from computers and phones to writing.
- 5. Take a study nap. A good night’s sleep is important for better memory. Even a 45-60 minute nap can make a difference.
- 6. Change up your practice. Rehearse the basic skill, wait at least 6 hours to retain it and practice by changing up the speed, breaking it down or learn under different conditions.
- 7. Force yourself to recall. Try the closed book method which involves writing as much as you can recall from a closed book. Try SQ3R method: survey, question, read, retrieve and review.
- 8. Say out loud what you want to remember. Talk to yourself, ask why, summarize and make connections.
Check out this video I made on these learning tips! Please like and subscribe!
The Protégé Effect: How You Can Learn by Teaching Others by Effectiviology
The Secret Of Effective Learning May Be Less Studying, Not More by Nick Morrison
The benefits of note-taking by hand by Hetty Roessingh
How to Remember More of What You Learn with Spaced Repetition by Thomas Frank
Try Taking a Power Nap for Better Memory by Kendra Cherry
How To Study: Active Recall – The ‘High Utility’ Technique You Should Be Using by Ali Abdaal
You Only Need to Make 1 Small Change to Learn Any New Skill Twice As Fast, Johns Hopkins Research Proves by Jeff Haden
What is Active Recall? How to use it to ace your exams by Brainscape
The first 20 hours — how to learn anything | Josh Kaufman | TEDxCSU
Talking to Yourself (Out Loud) Can Help You Learn by Ulrich Boser