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

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  6,284 ratings  ·  599 reviews
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 su
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 13th 2013 by Portfolio (first published January 1st 2013)
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Qinyu Yeah, I use the method that the author learned Ukulele to learn Bawu, a traditional Chinese minority instrument. And I am at the same time in a wechat…moreYeah, I use the method that the author learned Ukulele to learn Bawu, a traditional Chinese minority instrument. And I am at the same time in a wechat group where there is 150 people who are learning it( self-study using videos and books) . I found that, by using some of his methods, (maybe also because I have learned erhu before, )I am learning much quicker than most of them,(Actually, they started to thought I am some kind of genius ⁄(⁄ ⁄•⁄ω⁄•⁄ ⁄)⁄ So it's helpful to me.
I saw some of comments give a low score just because they don't like the stuffs the author had learned.
My teacher once told us that every book is a mixture of sand and gold, and you need to pick up the gold yourself. Don't treat a book you're reading as an enemy눈_눈, but as a friend ◕‿◕。 It can also be applied to this case.(less)

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May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I wrote this book, so I may be biased...
Zack Ward
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
The problem with "The First 20 Hours" is that the author spends a majority of the book explaining what he learned (Yoga, Programming, touch typing, Go, Ukelele, Windsurfing) rather than how he learned it. Just look at his chapter on Yoga. He spends twenty pages explaining where yoga originated and the poses that he learned, but only one page of skill acquisition explanation (where he admits to referencing some books and online videos).

Essentially, Kaufman's book shows you that it is possible to
Liam Delahunty
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
The First Twenty Hours has an interesting idea and something useful for most of us in this time short attention wandering world getting to a degree of general competence in a topic rapidly.

I dislike several things about this book. The misuse of the 10,000 hours idea to become an expert. I've never ever heard anyone say it takes 10,000 hours to learn something (other than to misquote!). 10,000 hours is purely the amount of time required in competitive areas to become absolutely world class.

Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
For the past 10 years or so, I've described myself as a dabbler. I am a Jill of many trades, an expert of none. I own a guitar and a ukulele, but I can only play 3 songs on each. I own language learning tools for Spanish, French, Arabic and Czech, and can barely speak anything other than English. I've taken 1 surf lesson and 1 stand up paddle board lesson and loved both. Someday, I would like to learn to build a website, make silver jewelry, and play the violin. I also work full time, exercise d ...more
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Very disappointing. There's an worthwhile idea here: it may take 10,000 hours, as others have suggested, to master something at the world-class level, but what about those areas where you just want to be competent enough to enjoy it and not humiliate yourself?

Unfortunately, this isn't really the book to help you. The first part is the 10 principles Kaufman has put together for Rapid Skill Acquisition, and they are mostly common sense. For example, do things you love, get rid of distractions, and
Nada Elshabrawy
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very informative.
Ben Nesvig
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-reads
It's difficult to imagine a better book on skill building than The First 20 Hours. If you've ever found yourself thinking "I wish I knew how to ____" or "I wish I didn't quit ____ lessons as a kid," then this is the best book you can read. There are many other books on learning that I love, such as "The Art of Learning" by Josh Waitzkin, but this is by far the best step by step guide you can apply to learning any skill.

The first 40 pages are dedicated to the principles of effective learning and
Chung Chin
May 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
The First 20 Hours is a book about rapid skill acquisition. In this book, based on his research, Josh Kaufman lists down the four major steps of rapid skill acquisition:
a. Deconstruct
b. Learn
c. Remove barrier
d. Practice

Next, the author goes on to explain ten principles of rapid skill acquisition and ten principles of effective learning. The ten principles of rapid skill acquisition is a list of common-sense thinking to skill acquisition, put together nicely in a list for your checking. The ten p
Jun 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
The First 2 Hours: Pathway to Putrefication
Effortlessly it seems, the author has created a book that is simply unreadable. This defect, without exception, putrefies a book for me.

Should you, a reasonably intelligent person, decide to read this, I'll wager good money on the proposition that you won't need 20 hours to learn you wasted time and/or money. Indeed, the Vegas line on over/under is 2 hours, and I'll take the under.
Colleen Wainwright
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, how-to
A crisp, well-written explanation of rapid skill acquisition that any learning junkie will find incredibly useful.

On the strength of the first three chapters alone, I've been recommending it to anyone who'll listen, but there's a wealth of additional data in the six case studies where the author used himself as guinea pig to test his theories. (They are, in case you've not read it elsewhere yet: yoga; a programming language; a non-QWERTY touch-typing system; an ancient Chinese strategy game cal
Jamie Doerschuck
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: self, owned
Josh Kaufman did a great job creating a lot of hype for the book, that's for sure. But I for one was a little disappointed upon actually reading 20 Hours. There are two chapters tops that detail his "method", two ten point lists, and the remaining 280 some odd pages are case studies.

Kaufman stresses "breaking down a skill" into smaller chunks, but doesn't really give any in-depth write up on how to do just that theory-wise. In the first chapter Kaufman says "Yes, the secret to learning skills q
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
The first three chapters of this self-help book give some great tips to learning anything you want in 20 hours. You may not be an expert, but you should be able to have fun with that new skill.

However, the remaining 6 chapters are about how the author learned to play Go, windsurf, play the ukulele, learn computer programming, do yoga, and learn a keyboard that is not QWERTY.

These chapters were meant to show how to apply the tips to learning in a practical way. Unfortunately, there was WAY too mu
Nov 18, 2013 rated it did not like it
Read the first three chapters. Everything else was just about what he personally learned and not terribly interesting. Basically, you can do anything if you make it a daily priority for a couple weeks. Which is obvious, but I guess I was hoping for some big secret to be revealed. Or at the very least, a funny writing style.
This is another book which should have been just a blog post.

The main ideas:
• Choose want you want to learn and deconstruct it into the smallest possible sub-skills.
• Learn enough about each sub-skill to be able to practice effectively and self-correct.
• Remove any physical or emotional barriers that get in the way of practice.
• Practice the most important sub-skills for at least 20 hours, even if it is a drag.
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
As far as I am concerned this book merely describes the obvious procedure involved in acquiring a skill. I don't think there is anything special in there which would help you rapidly acquire arbitrary new skills. The chapters describing various things Kaufman taught himself ranged from boring and cringey to slightly interesting, I had to skip a lot. My recommendation is to go and work on the skill of your dreams rather than waste time reading or listening to this. ...more
Jun 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help, nonfiction
The First 20 Hours (2013) by Josh Kaufman is a pretty thin book on learning new skills and learning in general. The book is pretty much an essay extended into a book. Kaufman’s book is about how to obtain the basics of a skill in 20 hours. Kaufman wrote a successful book called The Personal MBA. Kaufman is the self-help guru for the Hacker News set.
Kaufman has 10 rules for Rapid Skill Acquisition and ten major principles of effective learning. They include such gems as ‘Research the skill and re
M Jahangir kz
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
A decent read, although not as good as his other book The personal MBA, which is one of my favorite..

The book is basically based on simple practical techniques and principal, which enables us to learn any skills very quickly, the good part is that the other has himself tried those techniques, and learned 5 to 6 new skills, which he also illustrate on the book that how he learned those skills in less than 20 hours, following were those skills
1. Programming
2. Touch typing
3. Go game
4. Wind surfing
Sep 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
Really hoped it would be as well researched as Personal MBA, instead I got a mishmash of pop-productivity for a few pages and then the author learning random skills for the other 90%.
Trang Le
Aug 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Most books about study skills often have either, or both of the following shortcomings: 1. They're too obvious; 2. They're more like 1000-word blog posts repurposed into 200-page for commercial publication. I almost didn't pick up this book, considering that it receives only 3 out of 5 stars on both Amazon and Goodreads. I changed my mind after seeing the very polite replyof the author to a critical review.

The book opens with several uncomfortable truths about learning something new that we oft
Nguyen P. Chi
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ben Drexler
Aug 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: achievement
I have very, very mixed feelings about this book. Baked into its central conceit is a kind of disdain for mastering a skill. The author is up-front about his desire to acquire a base-level competency in many different skills rather than master any one of them. In some chapters, his approach to learning stumbles upon some unique insights as to how human beings acquire new skills. In some chapters, it's painfully clear that this approach has led him to a very superficial understanding of the pursu ...more
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: coding, cognition
This book doesn't present a revolutionary secret for learning skills. What it does is collect insights that seem obvious, but are almost always overlooked, with clear observations, and describe a system for employing those insights to make the process of acquiring new skills more predictable, and for making success in skill acquisition more repeatable. In that respect, it provides an excellent starting point for others to improve their approach to developing their own repertoire of skills.

The le
Many skills can be learned to a sufficient level with 20 hours of focused, strategic effort. In order to do so: deconstruct it into the smallest possible subskills, learn enough about each subskill to be able to practice effectively and self-correct, remove any physical, mental, or emotional barriers, practice the most important subskills for at least 20 hours.
May Ling
Jul 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Summary: Great framework in the front. Then 6 examples of skills that were picked up within the year. The front chapters get the 4 stars, the back I could take or leave.

I like the framework which include:
1) Deciding
2) Deconstructing
3) Learning
4) Removing (obstacles)
5) Practicing

This is more or less true for all new things. I also really like he describes - in not so many words, what Skills acquisition is not. That's important. The idea that you will be expert at anything is silly.

I think he cho
Joan Roig
I will give it 2 stars instead of one because of the first chapters.
So disappointing!!! More so because the first chapters seemed very promising. how many times I have wanted to acquire a new ability just to end up getting overwhelmed by the huge amount of content, the lack of time to dedicate... etc etc.
During the first chapters the author gives a roadmap to follow in order to rapidly acquire a new ability. So I was very excited when I read he would proceed to apply this roadmap in 6 different
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: skills
I feel hoodwinked.

The promise of this book and what it actually delivers are worlds apart. And for that, I am furious.

The main idea is basically that nobody has time for the 10,000 hour rule popularised by Malcolm Gladwell. Most of us want to learn new and interesting skills, not to be elite world class practitioners of those skills, but for fun, out of interest or to help us do something else.

Enter the concept of rapid skill acquisition.

Josh Kaufmann proposes that it only takes about 20 hours o
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
For anyone who has a long overdue list of goals and skills they haven't yet got around to acquiring, read this book. Although the "first twenty hours" moniker is a bit misleading, for along with twenty hours of practice one needs to invest in research equipment shopping and money, the book details incredibly productive strategies for picking a skill and sticking with it. The author explains these strategies in an engaging and easy to understand manner using obscure examples from his own life. Th ...more
Mohamed Hema
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio-books
One idea or method books, are meant to explain how to implement it and how to use it. The main idea was good, but the author forgot it totally and instead of explaining implementation methods he went to speak about his personal interests and how it works. As I am someone personally who loves creating new habits and learn new things, I think it doesn't matter how much effort or how many hours of practicing but the main thing is commitment and sticking to the thing till it becomes natural routine ...more
Marwen Aouiti
Aug 14, 2018 rated it liked it
It is a good book where you can find strategies and analysis from an experienced author about planning and learning how to learn new skills.
Sometimes you may feel bored because you'll be reading about things for the first time; well you can skip that but it's recommended to read the summary after every learning experience to get the maximum profit from the author's experience.
Alie Eldeen
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
I don't recommend it.
I didn't enjoy when I read it at all. I escaped some parts because it is not helpful at all .
At the first the writer show how to learn anything at the first twenty hours .After that he gave examples what he learned and wrote it in details which I got bored when I read it because I don't want to learn it as him .
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The Book Club 52|...: This topic has been closed to new comments. ⚜️ November 2020 Theme: Skilling Up⚜️ 2 18 Nov 25, 2020 12:17PM  
Knights of Academia: BOTM: First 20 Hours 8 14 May 31, 2019 03:07PM  

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Josh Kaufman is an independent business teacher, education activist, and author of The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business.

Josh's unique, multidisciplinary approach to business education has helped hundreds of thousands of readers around the world master foundational business concepts on their own terms, and his work has been featured in BusinessWeek, Fortune, and Fast Company, as well as by

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