The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast!

( 3 )

Overview

Forget the 10,000 hour rule— what if it’s possible to learn the basics of any new skill in 20 hours or less?
 
Take a moment to consider how many things you want to learn to do. What’s on your list? What’s holding you back from getting started? Are you worried about the time and effort it takes to acquire new skills—time you don’t have and effort you can’t spare?
 
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The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast!

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Overview

Forget the 10,000 hour rule— what if it’s possible to learn the basics of any new skill in 20 hours or less?
 
Take a moment to consider how many things you want to learn to do. What’s on your list? What’s holding you back from getting started? Are you worried about the time and effort it takes to acquire new skills—time you don’t have and effort you can’t spare?
 
Research suggests it takes 10,000 hours to develop a new skill. In this nonstop world when will you ever find that much time and energy? To make matters worse, the early hours of prac­ticing something new are always the most frustrating. That’s why it’s difficult to learn how to speak a new language, play an instrument, hit a golf ball, or shoot great photos. It’s so much easier to watch TV or surf the web . . .
 
In The First 20 Hours, Josh Kaufman offers a systematic approach to rapid skill acquisition— how to learn any new skill as quickly as possible. His method shows you how to deconstruct com­plex skills, maximize productive practice, and remove common learning barriers. By complet­ing just 20 hours of focused, deliberate practice you’ll go from knowing absolutely nothing to performing noticeably well.
 
Kaufman personally field-tested the meth­ods in this book. You’ll have a front row seat as he develops a personal yoga practice, writes his own web-based computer programs, teaches himself to touch type on a nonstandard key­board, explores the oldest and most complex board game in history, picks up the ukulele, and learns how to windsurf. Here are a few of the sim­ple techniques he teaches:

  • Define your target performance level: Fig­ure out what your desired level of skill looks like, what you’re trying to achieve, and what you’ll be able to do when you’re done. The more specific, the better.
  • Deconstruct the skill: Most of the things we think of as skills are actually bundles of smaller subskills. If you break down the subcompo­nents, it’s easier to figure out which ones are most important and practice those first.
  • Eliminate barriers to practice: Removing common distractions and unnecessary effort makes it much easier to sit down and focus on deliberate practice.
  • Create fast feedback loops: Getting accu­rate, real-time information about how well you’re performing during practice makes it much easier to improve.
Whether you want to paint a portrait, launch a start-up, fly an airplane, or juggle flaming chain­saws, The First 20 Hours will help you pick up the basics of any skill in record time . . . and have more fun along the way.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The latest from business adviser Kaufman (The Personal MBA) gets off to a promising start, asserting that the mastery of new skills is crucial in today’s rapidly changing business world, and also for the sake of personal growth. He challenges educational research and influential books such as Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, and suggests that most Americans are too busy to devote tens of thousands of hours to mastering new skills. Instead Kaufman proposes 10 basic principles to help students of any skill learn efficiently. These principles draw on rapid skill acquisition (for example, he tells readers to “choose a lovable project” and “define your target performance level”) and provide an organizational framework to help the learner focus and prevent distraction. Unfortunately, the book becomes less focused in the remaining chapters, as Kaufman illustrates his principles through different skills he attempted to learn, including yoga, Web programming, and playing the ukulele. The level of detail Kaufman includes is likely to lose the reader along the way. For example, in recounting his foray into programming, he breaks code down into its most basic components and even installation commands, which is only helpful for readers who want to learn this particular skill. While the overall premise is insightful, the accounts of Kaufman’s own field-testing are too drawn out and distract from the book’s thesis. Agent: Lisa Dimona, Writers House. (June)
Library Journal
12/01/2013
Learning new skills is a key component in keeping the mind sharp and engaged. Kaufman's techniques for rapid skill acquisition will appeal to people feeling the pressure of time crunch.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591845553
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover
  • Publication date: 6/13/2013
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 630,409
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Josh Kaufman is an independent business adviser and researcher who specializes in helping people make more money, get more done, and have more fun. Before creating PersonalMBA.com and writing The Personal MBA, he worked as a marketing manager for Procter & Gamble. He lives in Colorado. Visit personalmba.com Follow @joshkaufman

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 12, 2013

    Not as advertised.

    I love to learn things. I spend lots of time reading books, etc. about various things I want to learn. Some time ago I realized I did not have enough time to learn everything I wanted to learn. So the title of this book sounded like a God-send--to learn how to learn anything in 20 hours! My bad.

    Of course I knew there was no way you could learn most things in 20 hours. But I thought the author had perhaps found some gimmick, or insight or something to justify the book's title. There wasn't. In the first few chapters he listed several times the most obvious banal things one should do to learn something. And then after that there were six chapters telling us six things that he had learned purportedly spending 20 hours each. Admittedly some of those chapters were interesting because they dealt with areas that I was interested in learning something about--Ruby programming, for example. But to learn that, one wouldn't read this book--one would buy the materials necessary to learn Ruby programming. So that was the whole book.

    Anyway I was quite disappointed. At least one thing this book did teach me--that appearances can be deceptive.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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