A How-To Guide: Accelerated Learning for Accelerated Times

402 Comments

The above video is a short presentation I gave at The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam.

It covers a basic framework for mastering any skill quickly, including languages, music, dance, and more.

What skill have you put off learning for longest… and why? Let me know in the comments. Perhaps I (or other readers) can help. Second, if you could learn one skill in the next six months, what would it be?

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Important afterword:
NOTE — For my competition launched last week (not too late to join), roundtrip airfare is covered for all four winners.

Related content:
The 4-Hour Chef and Meta-Learning — 200+ pages on all I know about accelerated learning
Total Immersion: How I Learned to Swim Effortlessly in 10 Days and You Can Too
Scientific Speed Reading: How to Read 300% Faster in 20 Minutes
How I Deconstruct Languages (scroll through the list)

Posted on: May 20, 2013.

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402 comments on “A How-To Guide: Accelerated Learning for Accelerated Times

  1. 1. Krav Maga, I’ve been to a handful of classes, but I haven’t stuck with it even though I really want to learn it for peace of mind and as a physical outlet.

    2. Drawing comic book style. I used to draw incessantly as a kid, I would love to get back into it.

    Like

      • Wow…thanks for mentioning Otaku Camera. I just downloaded it and it is awesome. As a manga and general comic book fan this is great.

        Like

    • When it comes to Krav maga… you’ll need to break it down into different chunks(stance, distance, footwork, punches , kicks, grapples) .

      It might sound counter-intuative but I found the book : Bruce Lee : Jeet Kune Do , to be very effective at realising the parts of any fighting style.

      You can ind most of this book for free on google books. Let me know how you get on!

      Like

    • If you’re able to do Krav Maga three times a week, go out of your way to do it.
      Training essentially every other day keeps it in the front of your mind at all times, you’ll notice your response time improve very quickly.
      Visualize techniques when you can. No need to meditate on choke releases for half an hour, just go through the movements in your head every now and then – the body can only follow the mind’s command, and the faster the brain sends information, the faster your physical reactions will be.

      Only side effect is that you walk the streets thinking everybody’s out to murder you. :)

      Like

    • @Jeff, I’ve had the same problem as you for martial arts. The way that helped me a lot, was to engrain whatever martial art into your body. Don’t do it, but feel, and this will happen by trusting and developing confidence that our bodies can do Krav Maga, Systema, Wu wei, or w/e martial art it is and not only learn it, but be it.

      Like

  2. I would love to learn how to code.

    I have put it off for 2 years.

    Concerns:
    1.Too many programming languages to chose from.

    2. It seems like the experts have an insurmountable head start.

    3. Coding seems isolating and potentially boring, especially when just start outing and unable to ship a bunch of cool programs.

    Like

    • Hi Ryan,

      I suggest you try out PYTHON. It’s the closest langauge to English and it’s pretty easy to learn; especially for beginners. The hardest part in learning is sticking to it — 5 sessions as Tim mentions above.

      If you’re interested, I have a class on Udemy that teaches Python and Django. Search for “Coding for Entrepreneurs” and get in for free with the code ‘4HWW’ — it expires on Friday. This class I skip the theory and jump right in to the code so you can learn step by step.

      Another place to learn python is codecademy. Google it. It’s an amazing free resource that will help get you going in no time.

      Cheers and good luck in learning code!

      Like

      • You bet Ann. I want to get more non-technicals coding! Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the course when you get stuck!

        Will you do me a favor and rate the class right away? You can always change your rating later… but, more favorable ratings means more sign ups and more content for you!

        Cheers.

        Like

      • I heartily agree. Python is the bomb for clear code and understanding core concepts. Also search for ‘Dive Into Python’ and ‘How to Think Like Computer Scientist Using Python.’ As to the problem of boredom, it will help if you have a particular tool or project in mind. You will learn coding as a means to an end…and the decide whether to keep going after that.

        Like

    • Yes, I am trying to learn coding too (mostly to be a better prototyper and product person and entrepreneur). I have decided to learn rails because it does a lot of SQL and HTML generation for you and seemed to be the easiest for beginners with a big community of support. I am trying the onemonthrails program by doing:
      1. Ruby on Rails 3 Essential Training with Kevin Skoglund on Lynda.com (1 week)
      2. RoR Tutorial by Michael Hartl (1 week)
      3. Web Apps class by John Clusterhut at Stanford online (1 week)

      Like

    • try mt4 for forex or studiopress or thesis both highly sought after for wordpress. You can create own gigs from fiverr or annouce to founders of studiopress or thesis that you are one of the designers.

      Either way, you are better of learning coding that are evergreen. Iphone apps or android are highly sought after.

      Cheers.
      David

      Like

  3. For rapid learning of languages I highly recommend Duolingo. Lessons are broken into small sessions and learners gain points to level up through various categories. Plus the mobile app is fantastic!

    Like

      • Readthekanji.com focuses on the vocab and kanji part of Japanese. Spend an hour or two learning the grammar and you’ll be good after that.

        Like

      • I’ve been living between Colombia and Argentina for a year—the plan is to become fluent in Spanish in less than two years. I get by fine, but I know I won’t reach the goal of fluency with my current practice. My grammar is awful, my vocabulary limited, and my ear for regional accents is a wall. When I deconstruct, top of the list is, I hate to study (in general), and I hate to memorize (verb tenses).

        Just viewed the video—I’m intrigued! I’m going to apply DiSSS methodology moving forward: let me know if you have other tips specific to language I can roll in as I plot my course. Thanks!

        Like

      • Hi Vicki,

        What have you been doing in Colombia and Argentina? I’ve been thinking of a similar trip there to learn Spanish, travel. I was thinking 6 months. I’d love to chat about your experience.

        Like

      • hello! am far from advanced but just began a couple years ago and wonder if this may help you…was fortunate to have two pieces in a local juried art show in VA… (so encouraging and rewarding):
        read Recovery of inner child by lucia capacchione – she shows how people who never drew before draw expressive things about themselves — then all i did right afterward knowing it is possible – was to look hard at a photo of myself and start drawing the outline … it was creative! lo and behold! drew others then that i had strong feelings about. let me know if this helps you get started. small ez to carry sketchbook or just napkins in a cafe can work to get started. then an art mentor said draw ea day, found it only takes 5 min to an hour how ever long i wanted. art mentor said then try some with few lines and others with lots of lines. excited for you! again hope these help. apparently lots of artists use photos. my art mentor then took me off photos – but that time period of around six or 12 months really helped. drawing from memory was harder but interesting. then andrew loomis books are supposed to be the best

        Like

    • how good is duolingo for truly learning a language to fluency?

      It seems similar to sites like codeacademy that do nothing more than pump you up with a superficial understanding.

      Like

    • Started Duolingo Spanish. First level was easy as I hear much in CA every day. Second level was too great a jump. Could not do any of it.

      Like

  4. I’ve been putting off increasing my vertical leap so I can dunk a basketball, I tried a few years ago and was making massive improvements but my poor form on the deadlift left me with an injured back.

    So if I could learn anything in the next 6 months it would be increasing my vertical, it’s always been a childhood dream of mine to get above the rim.

    Love hearing you give advice on learning Tim.

    Like

    • The “Effortless Superhuman” part of the 4-Hour body cover this. Specifically the Sumo Deadlift might be useful for you which involves your legs more than your back compared to a conventional deadlift.

      Like

      • This is also a dream of mine. I’ve done the effortless superhuman for about 6-8 weeks and I can say that my explosiveness of the ground definitely improved. Currently, I’m in the middle of a different program trying to get my BF under 10%. I’ve always heard good things about Gil Thomas’s DunkDreamz program but I have not spent a good amount of time looking into the material. One of his first steps is getting the BF% low.

        Like

  5. I have been putting off honing my skill at guitar, it is one of the most beautiful things in the world to me personally and I still struggle with accepting that I have let my skill sharply slide. If I could learn any skill in the next six months, I would love to learn how to become a video editing super ninja and make even better videos to inspire the world around me while pushing my career to the next level!

    Like

    • I’ve played the guitar since I was a kid (I’m in my forties), and what kick started my playing was a Kindle Fire with a speaker dock in my music room so I could woodshed on youtube guitar videos. Super Fast learning.

      Like

  6. 1) I have put off learning the guitar because it seems like an overwhelming amount of skills to master. Every time I start, I can’t get past four basic chords as I struggle to make my fingers stretch to accommodate the chords.

    2) In the next six months I intend to master a free standing handstand and short handstand walk!

    Like

    • As a guitar player, I will recommend you focus on songs instead of chords. Yes, you need to know chords in order to play songs, but if you find a song you love, that’s the song that will help you learn those chords.

      A good metaphor is through language learning. Instead of taking classes and focusing on the grammar of a language (chords and notes), you should seek out sentences and paragraphs (songs, symphonies) that show native usage of that language (guitar, instrument).

      Like

    • I second Tyler’s advice, and would also recommend that you check out Songsterr. It’s a good source for a lot of songs, whether you read music or tab. I mainly use the iPad app.

      Like

    • I agree with Tyler, when i first started guitar i had lessons which i found tiresome so i quit for 2 years. I then decided after that time that i wanted to pick it up again; what i found was that learning songs that i liked was a lot more satisfying. Once i felt my skills were getting better learning chords scales etc were a lot easier.

      Like

    • Bec,

      You might consider getting a smaller guitar. If this is not an option then try to stretch your fingers away from the instrument. One exercise is to fit as many fingers on your right hand between the fingers on your left hand.

      Generally it is better to not try to conform yourself to the instrument but to find an instrument that fits you. As the great tubist Arnold Jacobs (and just about everybody else) said “Tension is the enemy”

      Like

    • I recommend going on Youtube and looking at the guitar teaching videos from “guitarjamzdotcom” and “martyzsongs”. The teacher breaks down popular songs into the chords and strumming patterns separately. Very helpful!

      Like

  7. I need to learn to build a personal brand for motivational speaking. I wish to speak to jr high, high school, and early university students about choosing their career.

    I am also building a 2 day outdoor leadership course. First one is June 29th.

    How do I build a brand when no one knows me?

    Like

      • @Patrick @Benny Get out there and start speaking with whatever branding you have now, even if it’s just you.Figure out your own USP for what you do and lean on that, adjusting and tweaking over time as you get real-world feedback. Make sure everything you do is video recorded and share it online, in info products, etc. Today your personal brand is not something you create out of thin air but is a by-product of who you are, who you help and what you stand for.

        Like

      • Oh, and choose a viable target market. My mentor Ray Edwards says your biz is built on providing “a unique solution to an identifiable group of people with money”.

        Like

    • My advice,
      1. Get on Help A Reporter Out, answer questions
      2. Build credibility indicators…search this blog for “local to national media”
      3. Ask yourself: if I want to build a (paying) career around motivational speaking…who is WILLING and ABLE to pay for my speaking? Is creating a video product of you giving presentation(s) more scaleable because it does not involve travel, and you can sell it while you sleep.

      A great question to ask yourself is: what would I create if I could create anything?

      All the best,

      -Jeff

      Like

    • Aside from speaking in whatever capacity you’re currently able to, I’d also recommend developing a following around your message through Youtube or your website. Some unpolished motivational speakers are being paid by their website readers simply because the readers resonate with their messages and feel a personal bond with them.

      I’d also recommend joining Toastmasters. It’s one of the best places to develop your skills as a speaker.

      Like

  8. Learning a language would be number one on things I’ve put off learning. I think the perceived barrier to entry is what has kept me away, but I’m slowly warming up to the idea through duolingo and similar services.

    Great talk by the way!

    Like

  9. I recently got a job as a waiter at a new hip, trendy restaurant in Providence, RI. I like wine but never learned much about it. Any suggestions on how to brain hack my way into learning wine basics? They really want us to push wine sales and be able to answer questions from “wine snobs”.

    Like

    • Here’s a shortcut: learn to deflect back and ask them the best QUESTIONS about their preferences, and have a few go-to recommendations for different dishes. That will solve 90% of the situations. Sometimes the Qs are more important than the As, as the Qs determine the As :)

      Like

    • Quick hack

      Red wine – meat dishes
      white wine – chicken and fish dishes

      Each type of wine has specific qualities about them.
      – As Tim mentions understand those specific qualities i.e. dry white and you will be able to have a conversation by first asking the clients preferences .

      Group the wines into these specific categories in your restaurant – You will cover the 80/20 rule.

      And finally the more expensive the wine the rarer it is either by age or supplier.

      Like

    • hey Kevin, check out the introduction to wine course in Skillshare.com called Stop Thinking and Start Drinking by John Boyer. I myself love drinking wine but don’t know too much about it. The accessible course taught me quite a lot! Cheers from Sweden!

      Like

    • Yeah sure, use the hacks (at first) for your job (to get by) but either decide you are going to put in the time and effort to actually become knowledgeable about wine and be able to help patrons make choices or simply be just another flakey waiter. You won’t be making as much in tips if all you can offer are the 2 hacks offered by Tim and Todd.

      Like

    • Here’s a quickie wine pairing chart found by 10 sec images.google.com search ‘wine pairing chart':

      http://phenomenalpalatepairings.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/food-wine-pairing-chart.jpg.

      California is biggest wine producer in US. Wine is huge biz in the state and the #2 tourism draw.

      Read through the California Wine Institute site and will learn a lot: http://www.wineinstitute.org/

      Also go to Youtube for short wine courses.

      Winebusiness.com is helpful too.

      Learn! It’ll pay off. If know your stuff will make more tips for starters.

      Like

    • I found myself going from knowing very little about wine, to having a pretty good handle on the flavor palate. The trick was to simply sit down with a dozen or two dozen varieties and trying them all in one sitting. Not drinking a whole glass but just sip enough to taste and really focus on the subtleties. After you have this bit of working knowledge it shouldn’t be too hard to fudge around the edges and come off like a real wine-o!

      Like

  10. How to be good at Maths? I have been procrastinating preparation for GMAT for quite a while, any tips for it will be very helpful

    Like

    • For maths the Engineering Mathematics and Advanced Engineering Mathematics books by K. A. Stroud are absolutely fantastic. The first one basically takes you from being unable to count to a college level maths knowledge, the second covers most of the maths you need for a postgraduate maths degree. The chapters are simple, clear, full of exercises and incredibly well explained.

      Liked by 1 person

    • get yourself on KhanAcademy.org with a google or fb account, and watch all the videos and do all the exercises. It might not be exactly what you’re doing in class, but it will fill the gaps. Most problems with Math stem from missing gaps earlier in education, you#ll be surprised how good you can get at it!

      Like

  11. Even through getting a degree and working as a music teacher I dont feel I can conduct at a level I feel is acceptable. (Taking care of that through my connections now)

    I would like to learn how to rapidly read and prepare musical scores. I find myself just memorizing the sounds and not really reading the music as much as I should. Maybe Tim’s speed reading techniques might be somewhat applicable.

    Like

  12. Hi Tim,

    I would like to see Accelerated Lessons for
    learning how to play guitar in the
    next 6 months. And improving one’s playing skills.
    Song-writing would be cool too!

    Thanks!

    Like

      • That’s a great resource! I recommend python for newbies which codecademy teaches. Python resembles English the most out of all coding languages so it’s easier to pick up.

        Like

    • Learn Python by finding out how to:
      0) Install ActiveState Python and fire up the Editor
      1) Learn to read a file, write to a file
      2) Split a linein parts (for instance spaces, comma’s)
      3) Go over the lines in a file with a (for-) loop
      4) Learn to create a simple UI with TKinter (standard part of Python)

      With these excercises you will be able to to quite a bit of programming in a few days and you learn the rest on the way….I hope this helps.

      Like

  13. I’d like like to learn to be a pro-networker / socialite. I grew up with a lot of introverted personality characteristics that have actually served me well in a lot of aspects of my life, but when it comes to working a room, or soft skills in my company, I’ve got very little to work with.

    I really don’t know where to start, where to find mentors, or how to get good feedback on what I’m doing. I don’t think I can change hard-wired parts of my personality, but I’d like to be able to grow some skills that I can turn on when useful.

    Like

    • Can I humbly suggest the book “brain at work” which could be a starting point to undestanding and controlling emotions. Also, going to meetups (meetup.com) to groups of your interest might get you more used to interacting with strangers.

      Like

    • Toastmasters is a great way, not only to build confidence in front of people and public speaking, but also to learn to socialize and work the room, as you call it. I’ve been going to a local club for 1.5 hours/week for the past year and it would be fair to say that it made a huge difference. It is not exactly a shortcut, but beyond the basics I would say this is the type of skill that you continualy have to practice.

      Like

    • Check out the quiet, the power of introverts. techniques on how to fit in in an extrovert world without loosing yourself.

      Like

    • Josh,

      Perfect new book out for Introverts #1 best seller in it’s category and great reviews. Kindle avail: “Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking.” By Susan Cain. Read an excellent review of it, I think on Forbes.

      Like

    • I’m so glad you posted this Josh. I was trying to think of a way to articulate it, but you put it better than I could.

      I forgot about toastmasters. I did it for a while a few years ago and it is an excellent, safe space for practicing “working a room.” I think I’ll give it a go again.

      Like

    • Hey Josh, I’d highly recommend Real Social Dynamics as an information provider in developing your social skills. Although they brand themselves as a pick up artist company, they don’t encourage the memorization of “lines” or “routines.” They develop social confidence through personal development and immersion in social situations.

      Like