20-Minute Rule: Becoming The Best At Something Gradually

You know that time you are struggling to do an important task. It could be learning how to code or understanding philosophical papers. The 20-minute rule could be what you need. It’s simple but can have immense benefits for your life.

You have probably landed here looking for how to stay focused while studying. Or you are looking for productivity hacks.

Well, welcome. You can use the 20-minute rule to trick your brain. But before you start using it, let’s see how it works.

So, How Does The 20-minute Rule Work?

In simple terms, pick something you want to learn and focus on it for twenty minutes before you quit. Come back to it and try it again for another 20 minutes before you stop or give up.

Now, this looks dumb. There’s no way you’ll master something by giving up every twenty minutes. The idea is to build a habit gradually, just using simple logic.

For instance, gamers, movie addicts, or book lovers understand this principle. Many of us do not get addicted to something or understand something the first time. It’s surprising to say you will get addicted after playing badly for the first time. But with time, things change, and you begin to understand how the game works. Once the progress is established, you and the projects or tasks become inseparable.

What Does Research Say About The 20-minute Rule?

Research on The Effects of Chronic Multitasking on Analytical Writing says that the best way to get the most out of what you are doing is to concentrate on one thing at a time. When you try to focus on one thing for a longer period, it becomes difficult to keep your mind on that one thing.

Sometimes, you didn’t lack concentration. You are not designed to enjoy something new and complex for a long period, not when you are a beginner.

You can read more about the 20-minute rule here.

Before You Begin

Some of the psychological ideas do not work in isolation. For instance, you didn’t just get addicted to social media like Twitter. It starts with having the resources such as a phone and time. Without a phone and social media, you can’t do anything.

The condition for using the 20-minute rule is

  • A bit of stubbornness
  • Understanding the importance of the task
  • Comfortability
  • Time


You have to try the 20-minute rule repeatedly.

  • Pick the task or subject you want to learn.
  • Set your alarm to 20 minutes.
  • Start studying or working.
  • Do not stop until 20 minutes.

Two things will happen after 20 minutes:

  • You enjoy the task, snooze or turn off the alarm, and continue working on it.
  • Or you get bored and take a break. This is where you need the stubbornness to return and repeat the process.

How Important Is What You’re Trying To Do

Why do you search for ‘how to stay focused while studying?’

Answer: you want to score an A in your exams. Or, if you look at the bigger picture, you might want to change the world of science.

Why do you want to learn storytelling?

Because the greatest achievers of our times are storytellers.

Want to change the world like Martin Luther King? You should learn to tell good stories. Tell it so powerfully that your listeners can see and feel it.

Want to build a big company like Elon Musk? Become good at telling stories to your team so they can see your masterpiece and work on the plan.

Your reasons can be personal. But if you don’t know or say it, you won’t work at the stubbornness I talk about in the first place.


It’s hard-working on something difficult when you are not comfortable. So, before you give up or set the timer for the 20-minute rule, make yourself comfortable. Turn off the sound on your phone. Keep a bottle of water on your desk.

You have 20 minutes. Remove excuses that could make you stop before the sound of the timer.


You need time. This post will be useless if you don’t have 20 minutes to sit down and do what you need to do.

For instance, an average reader will finish a 100k words book in 6 hours. But let’s say you want to study the same book. You need more time. Let’s multiply 6 hours by 10. It means 60 hours of study divided into 20 minutes across days and months.

You need time. How much you can afford is up to you.

However, you must understand that the 20-minute rule is only to get you started. Once you start making progress, you can increase the timing. (If you are lucky, interested, and understand why you need to do the work, you can get addicted and end up going for hours and hours). When it gets difficult, revert to the 20-minute rule gain.

Time to Become the Best Performer at that One Thing

Now, you understand what’s the meaning of the 20-minute rule.

Get to work. Set the timer, remove distractions, and sit down to do the task.

When you are less busy, read other posts on the blog.