The First 20 Hours - by Josh Kaufman


The First 20 Hours - by Josh Kaufman

Read: 2021-12-25

Recommend: 8/10

I like what the author said: we don’t need 10,000 hours of practice to start enjoying something like playing an instrument or windsurfing. 20 hours is enough to get you started.


Here are some text that I highlighted in the book:

  1. “deliberate practice”: intentionally and systematically practicing in order to improve a skill. Deliberate practice is the core of skill acquisition. The question is how much deliberate practice is required to reach your goal. Usually, it’s much less than you think.

  2. Rapid skill acquisition has four major steps:

    • Deconstructing a skill into the smallest possible subskills;
    • Learning enough about each subskill to be able to practice intelligently and self-correct during practice;
    • Removing physical, mental, and emotional barriers that get in the way of practice;
    • Practicing the most important subskills for at least twenty hours.
  3. Although I completed my undergraduate degree in business information systems, the overlap between what I learned in the classroom and what I do on a day-to-day basis is essentially nil.

  4. If you want to acquire a new skill, you must practice it in context. Learning enhances practice, but it doesn’t replace it. If performance matters, learning alone is never enough. [Just like meditation. Knowing it conceptually is not enough. We need to practice it.]

  5. “three-stage model” of skill acquisition, and it applies to both physical and mental skills. The three stages are Cognitive (Early) Stage—understanding what you’re trying to do, researching, thinking about the process, and breaking the skill into manageable parts. Associative (Intermediate) Stage—practicing the task, noticing environmental feedback, and adjusting your approach based on that feedback. Autonomous (Late) Stage—performing the skill effectively and efficiently without thinking about it or paying unnecessary attention to the process.

  6. Here are the ten major principles of rapid skill acquisition:

    • Choose a lovable project.
    • Focus your energy on one skill at a time.
    • Define your target performance level.
    • Deconstruct the skill into subskills.
    • Obtain critical tools.
    • Eliminate barriers to practice.
    • Make dedicated time for practice.
    • Create fast feedback loops.
    • Practice by the clock in short bursts.
    • Emphasize quantity and speed.
  7. Relying on willpower to consistently overcome these barriers is a losing strategy. We only have so much willpower at our disposal each day, and it’s best to use that willpower wisely. The best way to invest willpower in support of skill acquisition is to use it to remove these soft barriers to practice. By rearranging your environment to make it as easy as possible to start practicing, you’ll acquire the skill in far less time.

  8. When you begin to acquire a new skill, it’s tempting to focus on practicing perfectly—a recipe for frustration. Your performance, of course, won’t be anywhere close to perfection. Instead of trying to be perfect, focus on practicing as much as you can as quickly as you can, while maintaining “good enough” form.

  9. Well Begun Is Half Done

  10. In that spirit, here are the ten major principles of effective learning:

    • Research the skill and related topics.
    • Jump in over your head.
    • Identify mental models and mental hooks.
    • Imagine the opposite of what you want.
    • Talk to practitioners to set expectations.
    • Eliminate distractions in your environment.
    • Use spaced repetition and reinforcement for memorization.
    • Create scaffolds and checklists.
    • Make and test predictions.
    • Honor your biology.
  11. I do not measure my progress in Yoga by how far I can bend or twist, but by how I treat my wife and children. —T. K. V. DESIKACHAR, RENOWNED YOGA TEACHER

  12. This classical yoga was very different from the version of yoga that is often taught in the West today. It was not an aerobic exercise, and it did not help people to feel better about their lives—quite the contrary. Yoga was a systematic assault on the ego, an exacting regimen that over a long period of time taught the aspirant to abolish his normal consciousness with its errors and delusions, and replace it with the ecstatic discovery of his purusha.

  13. Classical yogis didn’t practice to get stronger or more flexible. They strove to sever the link between their body and their atman. Heavy stuff.

  14. Yoga = Breathing + Movement + Meditation

  15. I don’t need to read all of the books, courses, tutorials, and other resources I’ve discovered before I start programming.

  16. Fewer moving parts means fewer ways for the program to break.

  17. Anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly at first. —RAY CONGDON

  18. Type Fu.20

  19. There’s a very old Go proverb, however: “a few moments to learn, a lifetime to master.”

  20. Remember, time is never found: it’s made.

  21. G / D / Em / C [ So/Re/MiE/Do ]

  22. Memorize the song by just singing first! It’s important to separate instrument-knowledge from song-knowledge. You need to be able to just sing the whole thing, no instrument in hand. (Voice quality doesn’t matter: sing, hum, whistle, anything.) Once you have the song memorized, sing the note-names instead of the lyrics. Memorize the song like this, eyes closed. Finally, add the instrument, singing the note-names as you play them on the strings.

  23. Why don’t we practice? Simple: we’re busy and we’re scared. Shakespeare said it well a long time ago, in a play titled Measure for Measure: “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

  24. Struggle if you must, but don’t stop. Show your grit, and keep pushing forward. You’ll get there: all it takes is practice.