The First 20 Hours by Josh Kaufman is the second book for my reading challenge on “Memory and Learning”. The first part of the book provides a framework to acquire skills rapidly and the second part is a chronicle of Josh learning 6 different skills: yoga, touch typing, the strategy game Go, ukulele, windsurfing and programming.
Here’s my summary in a slideshow with the main concepts from First 20 Hours.
Slideshow Summary of The First 20 Hours
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1. Why Learn Rapidly? 📖💡💨
- Make use of time efficiently
- 10,000 hour rule is for expert level
- Reach desired level of skill quickly
2. What is Rapid Skill Acquistion (RSA)?
- Deconstructing: Breaking a skill into smallest possible subskills
- Learning: Learn just enough to intelligently practice & self-correct
- Removing: Physical, emotion & mental barriers to learning
3. Ten Principles of Rapid Skill Acquisition
- Lovable : Choose a skill to learn that you love and care about.
- One Thing : Focus on learning just one skill at a time.
- Set Target : The goal here is not to become a world-class expert but to be good enough. Define clearly what “good enough” means for you.
- Break It : Break the skill into sub-skills to focus on practising the most important parts.
- Tools ⚒️: Obtain tools and resources needed to practice the skill.
- Barriers 🚧: Identify and eliminate mental, physical and emotional barriers.
- Schedule 📅: Make time for practice. Cut low value activities.
- Feedback 🔁: Get quick feedback as you practice in order to adjust and learn faster.
- Clock It ⏱️: Practice in short bursts for 3-5 sessions a day. The Pomodoro Technique will work just fine.
- Quantity & Speed 📚💨: Focus on quantity & speed. During early stages of learning a skill, quantity & speed beat quality.
4. Ten Principles of Effective Learning
- Research the skills: Identify some books, videos, courses, websites. Skim to identify techniques.
- Jump in over your head: Don’t get daunted or frustrated if certain concepts are confusing. Confusion leads to clarity.
- Mental Models & Mental Hooks: Mental models are essential concepts of a skill. Mental hooks are metaphors for the concepts. Identify them early to learn a skill more effectively. For example, in programming a “server” is a special computer that stores and retrieves web pages for users. This is a mental model. To understand this mental model, we can relate a “server” to a librarian who handles queries from users about book availability. This is a mental hook.
- Inversion: Study the direct opposite of what you want to learn. By flipping, you will gain insight on things not immediately obvious.
- Ask practitioners: Talking to practitioners will help set expectations as well as bust myths and misconceptions.
- Eliminate distractions: Eliminate distractions like TV, phone, Internet as well as people and pets to focus on learning the skill.
- Repeat & Reinforce: Review important concepts periodically. Use tools like flash cards.
- Scaffolds & Checklists: Checklist helps you remember things to practice. Scaffolds are actions so you always approach the skill in the same way. An example of a scaffold is the way a player bounces a ball before executing a free throw.
- Predictions: Keep a log of making and testing predictions to acquire skills more rapidly.
- Honour your biology: Brain and body needs food, exercise, water, rest and sleep. Use a timer and take breaks.
5. Skills Josh Picked Up
Within a span of a year, Josh picked up the following six skills in different areas:
- Yoga: Develop a home practice
- Programming: Create a web application
- Touch Typing: Use a nonstandard keyboard
- Strategy: Learn the ancient game of Go
- Music: Play the ukulele
Below is a TEDx talk by Josh where he goes into details of The First 20 Hours framework with regards to learning how to play the ukulele.
Now It's Your Turn
I hope you enjoyed my summary of The First 20 Hours. Now it’s your turn to take action:
- Read the book
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- Leave a quick comment below