It takes 10,000 hours to be a world class expert in something, but only 20 hours to become kind of good at it. That’s the theme Josh Kaufman puts across in his book, The First 20 Hours, How to Learn Anything…Fast! (I love the … in that title).
A quick look at Josh’s site, and you see he lists one of his services as Rapid Skill Acquisition (I also love the name of this). What we try to promote here at this site is that we want people to always be learning something new, from learning a language, to changing the oil in your car, we can benefit greatly by always challenging our brain and body in learning new things. What Josh does with his business, is take that, and teaches you how to learn it in the shortest amount of time possible, the whole 80/20 approach.
What surprised me the most about this book, is he spends little time on the science on learning in 20 hours, and focuses way more on actual examples of things to learn such as Yoga, Ruby programming, touch typing, Ukulele and a few others. In fact, over 60% of his book is focused on those examples. I myself chose only to read the chapters on Ruby, touch typing, and the Ukulele. The next day I did a quick look on the internet, and started learning how to type using the Colemak keyboard (a different setup to the standard QWERTY keyboard that requires less hand movement and ultimately becomes faster to type).
How to apply this to my own learning
The core principles of his book are
- Decide on what to learn
- Set a target for what’s “good enough”
- Break the skill into smaller skills
- Obtain required tools
- Practice until you reach 20 hours
For example, say you want to learn to play the piano. That’s all good, but at what point could you say that you play the piano? To me, that might be when you can play 1 song on it with few errors. Therefore, let’s find a song to play.
If I were to learn piano today, my target song would be the theme from The Flash. This song can be broken down into verses and choruses, which we’ll make our “smaller skills”. In each of these verses, there are also notes and chords to play, so these are subsubskills. I currently do not own a piano, so I would have to obtain one. However spending $2,000 on a piano straight away isn’t a smart thing, instead I would get a $50 keyboard from Target. With the keyboard in my possession, I then set time aside every day to practice each bit. The minimum amount of time I would set is 5 minutes, but if I felt highly motivated, I could certainly practice for 3 hours in a row. I would also record the amount of time I spend practicing so I know when exactly I’ve practiced for 20 hours.
If you’ve read this book before, let me know what you thought of it in the comments below (I’ll read every comment).