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The First 20 Hours

How to Learn Anything… Fast

By Josh Kaufman
12-minute read
Audio available
The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast by Josh Kaufman

The First 20 Hours (2013) is about learning new skills quickly. These blinks will help you shake off the notion that it’s too late to expand your horizons. Whether you want to master a foreign language or learn how to fly a helicopter, here are ten simple steps for getting started.

  • Dreamers and curious souls
  • Procrastinators
  • Wannabe polyglots

Josh Kaufman is an independent researcher on topics such as business, entrepreneurship, productivity and behavioral psychology. He’s been ranked as one of the best business authors by Amazon. His first book, The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business, was a best seller.

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The First 20 Hours

How to Learn Anything… Fast

By Josh Kaufman
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast by Josh Kaufman
Synopsis

The First 20 Hours (2013) is about learning new skills quickly. These blinks will help you shake off the notion that it’s too late to expand your horizons. Whether you want to master a foreign language or learn how to fly a helicopter, here are ten simple steps for getting started.

Key idea 1 of 7

Learn the basics of anything in 20 hours by using rapid skill acquisition.

Is there some skill you’ve always wanted to learn but never had the time for? Many people wish they could play the piano, dominate on the tennis court or converse in fluent French, and may even undertake to learn these skills. But often they give up before they’ve even acquainted themselves with the basics. The reason is that they believe it’s too late for them to acquire a new skill – but that’s simply not true!

This is where rapid skill acquisition comes into play. By employing this technique, you can become fairly good at whatever skill you choose by putting in a mere 20 hours of practice.

Obviously, if your aim is to become the next Serena Williams, you’ll need many thousands of hours of work. Rapid skill acquisition is more about covering the basics, rather than transforming yourself into an instant expert. But even those first 20 hours of practice on the court will already enable you to play against friends and maybe even partake in local tournaments.

Let’s continue with the example of tennis. If you practice for 20 hours, breaking that time up into daily doses of 60-90 minutes, you’ll soon find yourself rapidly improving. And once you’ve completed the initial 20 hours of practice, it’ll become considerably easier to continue developing your chosen skill.

If you’ve ever tried to learn something new, you’ll know that the first few hours of practice are often the hardest. At this stage, you’ll be more likely to get confused and run into problems, which is what causes people to give up early on. But it’s essential to persist for at least 20 hours. That way, you’ll have already reached a substantial level of skill, which will make further practice less problematic.

So how can you make those 20 hours really count? Let’s dive into the ten principles underlying rapid skill acquisition.

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