The First 20 Hours by Josh Kaufman Book Summary – Review

You’ve undoubtedly had several hobbies during your life, and you may regret not following some of them. Perhaps you resent yourself for not learning the violin ten years ago when you had more time, or for not learning a foreign language when it was simpler.

And what if, instead of lamenting squandered chances, you just began working toward your objectives right now? Here’s when the author’s strategy comes into play.

In these chapters, you’ll discover how to master the fundamentals of any talent in just 20 hours. You’ll discover how to create a solid foundation for acquiring any skill, from arranging practice time to acquiring all of the tools you’ll need to succeed.

In these chapters, you’ll find out

  • It’s amazing how much a difference 20 hours can make;
  • Why you’ll never be able to just make time to practice; and
  • that quantity is sometimes preferable to quality.

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Chapter 1 – Using quick skill acquisition, learn the fundamentals of anything in 20 hours.

Is there a talent you’ve always wanted to master but haven’t had the opportunity? Many individuals want to be able to play the piano, dominate on the tennis court, or talk fluently in French, and they may even try to develop these skills. However, they frequently give up before even learning the fundamentals. The reason behind this is that they assume it is too late to learn a new skill – which is simply not true!

This is when quick skill learning comes in handy. You can become pretty proficient at any talent you desire by using this strategy and putting in just 20 hours of practice.

Clearly, if you want to be the next Serena Williams, you’ll have to put in a lot of time. Rather than turning you become an immediate expert, rapid skill learning focuses on covering the fundamentals. However, with just 20 hours of court time, you’ll be able to play against friends and maybe even compete in local competitions.

Let’s proceed with the tennis example. If you train for 20 hours a day, splitting it up into daily dosages of 60-90 minutes, you’ll quickly see results. And when you’ve put in the first 20 hours of practice, it’ll be a lot easier to keep improving your chosen talent.

If you’ve ever attempted to master a new skill, you know that the first few hours of practice are generally the most difficult. You’ll be more likely to become confused and run into trouble at this point, which is why so many individuals stop up early. However, you must persevere for at least 20 hours. This way, you’ll have already demonstrated a high degree of proficiency, making more practice less difficult.

Now, how can you make the most of those 20 hours? Let’s look at the eight concepts that underpin quick skill development.

Chapter 2 – Concentrate all of your efforts on mastering your chosen talent.

There aren’t any doubt several talents you’d like to learn, but selecting the one you’re most interested in is a vital aspect of the process.

Just make a list of all the abilities you wish to improve and choose the one that excites you the most right now. This will help you maintain your practicing motivation.

When presented with the decision of which talent to pursue next, the author did just that. Windsurfing was on his bucket list, but despite having previously worked as a water-sports instructor at a Boy Scout camp, he hadn’t been in the water in years. But, having had an instinctive interest in water activities since infancy, he was soon enthralled by the prospect of windsurfing bringing him closer to his goal.

According to the second principle of quick skill acquisition, you should concentrate solely on one talent. It’s tempting to attempt to master numerous abilities at once; for example, you could wish to learn windsurfing while also studying Spanish and learning how to play the ukulele.

This, however, is not a good idea. When learning something new, you need to make the most of your time because you probably only have an hour or two every day. As a result, don’t try to acquire numerous abilities at the same time. If you try to study numerous topics at once, you’ll find that you’ll make extremely slow progress, which will just demotivate you.

Chapter 3 – Break down the skill level you wish to achieve into smaller chunks.

The third element of quick skill acquisition is to decide how excellent you want to get at whatever you’re doing. This is known as your target performance level, and it’s crucial because you’ll have a greater chance of getting there if you can visualize what you want your performance to look like.

As a result, consider what degree of performance is “good enough” for you. Do you want to learn three melodies by heart or smoothly join a jam session if you’re learning to play the banjo, for example?

When the author first began learning to play the ukulele, his goal performance level was to perform at a conference organized by a friend. He’d been requested to give a lecture about quick skill acquisition, and he believed that showing how far he’d come on the ukulele in just 10 days would be a great way to showcase the notion.

Breaking down your desired talent into smaller sections that you may tackle separately is the fourth principle of quick skill development. You wouldn’t try to eat an entire meal in one bite, and you shouldn’t try to acquire a new skill in the same way. Progress will be easier and faster if it is divided into sub-skills.

When the author first started learning the ukulele, he first looked at the anatomy of the instrument. He learned how to tune it after that, and only then did he start learning the chords for the song he wanted to perform at the conference.

He was able to play the song beautifully by the time it was time for his performance.

Chapter 4 – Get the tools you’ll need and stay focused.

So you’ve settled on a skill to pursue, but what tools will you need to do so?

The fifth principle of quick skill development is to make sure you have the tools you need. This phase is quite self-explanatory: if you want to learn how to play tennis, you’ll need a racket, and if you want to learn how to fly a helicopter, you’ll need a helicopter.

It’s important to find out the components, contexts, and tools you’ll need to practice and learn, even if it’s a basic task. When the author first began learning to windsurf, he did just that. He needed aboard, but he also required a helmet and a wetsuit. Eventually, he learned that he needed to grow more confident standing on a board before he could start using a sail, which meant he required a paddleboard and a paddle.

The sixth principle is about recognizing the obstacles that can prevent you from learning your chosen skill. Are there any emotional hurdles in your way, such as fear or self-doubt? What about distractions that can make it difficult to practice such as phone ringing?

If there are any obstacles, attempt to remove them as soon as possible. Closing down any distractions while identifying and working through your concerns, for example, can help you establish a serene setting.

When the author first started windsurfing, he was apprehensive that it would be risky because of the possibility of drowning and hypothermia. He educated himself with the threats in order to overcome those mental obstacles. He learned about extremely cold water temperatures and purchased a wetsuit to protect himself. He also made the decision to always have someone else with him when windsurfing, even if that person was merely sitting on the beach. If he was in trouble, there would always be someone to help him.

Chapter 5 – Set aside time to practice and provide feedback to yourself.

People nowadays have busy lifestyles than ever before, which is why it’s critical to not just try to find time to practice but to make it happen. This is the seventh quick skill acquisition concept.

Identify other things in your life that you don’t particularly enjoy or during which you tend to stall or get restless in order to make time to practice the skill you want to learn, and then concentrate on eliminating them from your day. This will help reduce the burden, allowing you to devote 60-90 minutes every day to practicing your preferred talent. 

The eighth principle of quick skill acquisition is to make certain that you receive feedback on your progress.

Let’s pretend you’re attempting to learn Chinese. You’ll need a mechanism to obtain quick feedback so you can assess how you’re doing and make adjustments if something goes wrong.

Hire a coach if you can, as they can provide you with feedback almost immediately. You might also employ technology like a voice recorder if you’re learning a new language, which can help you notice your own pronunciation and grammar errors.

When the author was learning how to play the game Go, he received criticism. He downloaded SmartGo, a piece of software that gives him feedback every time he makes a move. This allowed him to swiftly assess his performance and pinpoint his areas of weakness.

Chapter 6 – Work in short bursts, focusing on quantity and speed.

Mondays are dreaded by everyone because they appear to last forever. After the delights of the weekend, having to work for a full day is torturous. Indeed, doing any difficult or tiresome job for a lengthy amount of time is both exhausting and inefficient, which is why you should only practice in short bursts. 

The ninth principle argues that the greatest method to improve is to practice in short bursts. When you first begin learning a new talent, the amount of time you spend practicing may appear to be incredibly sluggish. In fact, because the work feels so difficult at first, people vastly overestimate how much time they’ve spent practicing.

Use a timer to create 20-minute time limits for yourself to get around this. You’ll know precisely how much time you’ve spent training this way, and you’ll be more driven to perform your best during that time. You’ll be amazed at how rapidly you develop if you perform three to five of these 20-minute sessions throughout the day, every day.

The eleventh and last concept of fast skill development is to concentrate on practicing frequently and thoroughly rather than striving for perfection.

Because you won’t be an expert right away as a beginning, you should concentrate on practicing a lot and rapidly. When you put quantity and speed first, you’ll be less likely to grow frustrated and demotivated as a result of the inevitable setbacks.

When the author initially began learning to windsurf, he used this strategy. He wasn’t great when he first climbed on the board; in fact, he fell into the sea as soon as he raised the sail. He had misplaced his spectacles, was on the verge of a concussion and had taken an uncomfortably big gulp of water. If he had anticipated perfection from the start, he would have most likely given up straight away. Rather, he aimed at obtaining as much practice in before the season ended, and as a consequence, he quickly picked up this new and fulfilling activity that had previously looked difficult.

You may effectively learn a new talent in little time if you follow the 10 principles of quick skill acquisition. Find your local windsurfing equivalent and get started learning now!

The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything…Fast by Josh Kaufman Book Review

Learning a new skill is never too late. All you have to do is remember the 10 rules for quick skill acquisition. Whether you want to study French or play the ukulele, all you have to do is practice for 20 hours to get started.

To find time to practice, keep a journal.

It’s a good idea to keep track of how you spend your time for a few days while trying to free up time for practice. You’ll be able to spot trends and, perhaps, find areas in your routine where the practice should be added.

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