Ep. 40 – How to Master a Skill in 18 Minutes

Think ahead to a year from now. What’s one skill you would like to develop or really improve?

It could be habit-oriented like better managing your daily calendar or more specific like learning another language, playing an instrument, using new technologies, increasing muscle strength, etc.

This prompt isn’t about offering intricate formulas and guaranteed results. Rather, it’s about deepening a specific skill by focusing on it consistently. Not only is it possible for you to do this in a fairly short amount of time with a fairly short amount of effort each day, you already have done it-many times.

My guess is that you have a ready list of results, habits, and skills that are tied to a specific action or a series of efforts. Our current circumstances are a direct result of what is known in economics and business as lagging indicators. Simply put, you have an observable result today that can be directly tied back to repeated behavior taken by you or those around you. That result is likely visible in your bank account, your scale, your sleep patterns, your time management, your relationships, and so on.

The Bottom Line on Top of this episode is that specific, intentional efforts, done consistently, can leapfrog progress more so than concerted bursts of effort done sporadically. Think of that as the difference between running one mile a day for 20 days or running 20 miles all in one day. You can feel the difference in that, and what are you more likely to repeat? This is called a “purposeful practice” and it’s possible to achieve real results from less than 20 minutes of effort each day.

This isn’t about the pursuit of perfection or becoming world-class in a particular area. That understandably requires years of practice. This is about space for you to expand one element of an interest, passion, hobby, or pursuit that is uniquely you. The one element is the key piece here. It’s not about becoming a champion tennis player, but finding a focus where you want to extend your skill and your enjoyment.

Let’s break this into some everyday math to see how it works.

There is a concept called the Rule of 100, which says you can dramatically improve a skill through 100 hours of dedicated effort of learning it or practicing it. That amount of time gets you past the plateaus and frustration points that invariably come when moving from an interested beginner to having skill proficiency.

If you take 100 hours and spread it across the course of a year, it comes out to approximately 18 minutes a day.

18 minutes to focus on, practice, and study your area of interest. That’s a little over two hours a week or 9 hours a month. I bet most of us spend way more than that on technology.

100 hours comes out of the 8,760 hours we all have in a year. And of course, you can invest the 100 hours however works for you.

18 minutes a day is just a launching pad for your imagination. Most of us are feeling the buzzy buzz of our days and it’s hard to try to fit one more thing in, yet we can often see through the fog to find 18 minutes.

This isn’t a tracking exercise. If you do 10 minutes one day and 26 minutes the next, it all counts. It’s about showing up for You and giving your attention to one thing of your choice.

Too often, we’re going to fall into the all-or-nothing approach. We grade ourselves for our misses and we don’t give credit to the work that we are putting in. And that’s when we start to lose the joy in what we’re doing. And this is your hobby, interest, talent, and passion. Don’t tie rocks to it because of some clock.

It’s also important to remember that the only one on the leader board here is you. You can physically, intellectually, or emotionally make significant progress in a specific area, but the key to feeling like it’s an achievement is self-permission in the first place to prioritize your pursuit without that self-expectation of perfection in the end.

Skill competence is also different from ingraining a habit, that’s when we’re looking to do the repetition of an action to move from conscious to subconscious. Deepening a skill that’s a deliberate practice consciously.

To start this, don’t focus on the clock or the calendar. See where you can find 18 minutes for your passion today. And then, find it again tomorrow. You may be surprised at how many pockets of time there are to claim in your day and how quickly they go by when you’re focusing on intellectual exploration. You’ve almost spent half of those 18 minutes already in listening to these words.

So start to make room and you’ll quickly see the cumulative results of consistent effort. Aside from the competence of the skill itself, you’ll also grow confidence in that competence-that’s a gift with purchase.

Big things can come from small efforts. And putting yourself on the calendar each day that is a big thing. Trying out the Rule of 100 starts with making a Rule of You.

Find out what you’re willing to invest in your passions. I hope the answer is at least 18 minutes. Thanks for listening. And until next time, take care to take good care.

Your brain is hungry. Give it some intellectual snacks in the
Unlock Video Library.

Unlock helps you skip the line and save time with smart, simple steps that get results. Come visit the free video library to get keys to real-life ways to unlock your brain.

Share this post

I'm Kristin

I left my corporate work and dove further into how to navigate this noisy, digital, exhausted world. The result is a methodology centered on communications, productivity, and culture that blends theory with practice and helps people better enjoy the life they worked so hard to get.