Notes on The First 20 Hours - Josh Kaufman


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Notes on The First 20 Hours - Josh Kaufman

The Talk

I just watched Kaufman’s 2013 TedxCSU talk The first 20 hours -- how to learn anything on YouTube. I’ll take a look at the book itself as well. Just from the talk I was encouraged. Kaufman does a great job breaking down the idea of learning something new and making it feel more manageable.

The Tedx talk contains a few key points:

  • To get good enough at a new skill the first 20 hours of focused deliberate practice are enough to take you from grossly incompetent to reasonably good. Break the skill down and have the end in mind - know what you want to accomplish and focus on learning just skills needed to get there.
  • Learn enough to correct yourself. Part of the initial learning curve is recognizing if you’re on the right path. Gather a few resources to provide a broader understanding but don’t procrastinate by trying to read them all first. Experiential learning - hands on practice - is most important. Read/research and then implement right away.
  • Minimize distractions so you can focus while practicing.
  • The hardest thing about learning something new is the emotional discomfort of feeling bad at something in the beginning. It will be very uncomfortable at first but persist to get past that wall of frustration. Commit to practicing at least 20 hours and don’t give up. An example work plan might be 45 minutes per day for a month.

The Book

The book is available at the author’s website Taking a look at the table of contents for the book itself I see that Kaufman goes into detail in the first third of the book on the concepts from his talk plus a lot more. The remainder consists of case studies from the author's life as he works on 6 different skills - a mix of intellectual, creative, and physical.

I’ll keep updating this page as I make more progress with the book.

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