Book Review: The First 20 Hours - How to Learn Anything Fast
Continuous learning has been a cornerstone of my life. Being an efficient learner is therefore important to me. I often wonder about the best way to learn and end up "learning about learning" every so often. No wonder I was naturally drawn to this book by best selling author, Josh Kaufman, given its catchy title.
Kaufman first clears the air that devoting 20 hours of your life to something does not make your an expert in the field. However, it allows you to become good enough and be confident in applying the skill being acquired. He then distils his learning process into 10 steps:
- Identify a skill(s) that matters to you
- If multiple skills are desired, focus your energy on one skill at a time
- Define a target level on "what is good enough"
- Deconstruct the skill into sub-skills
- Ensure the right tools are available for learning
- Remove barriers to practice
- Make time to practice for at least 20 hours, preferably in regular intervals
- Create fast feedback loops
- Practice by the clock in short bursts (e.g., 20-min intervals)
- Emphasize on the quality and quantity of practice without focusing on perfection
Kaufman went on to describe how he had applied the above to learning computer programming, Go, the ukulele among other things. From his real world examples, I get the feeling that first reading about the topic to gain a basic understanding is necessary. Regular deliberate practice of the skill however, is the ultimate key to learning.
Applying Kaufman's framework, this is what I should do for my golf game:
- Set a mission statement to play golf well this year. Well it is already one of my 2022 goals
- Agree with myself that this is THE sport I will hone with unparelleled focus this year
- Break 100 at 18-holes before end of year
- Focus on posture, force dynamics, the woods, the irons and course etiquette
- Get better clubs; buy new clothing (shoes, gloves, comfy pants)
- Leave my equipment in the car for easy access. Set up a training program with my coach
- Get to the course at least once a week alternating between lessons and self practice; and at least twice a month at the course
- Get feedback from my coach during lessons and send him videos of my play for instant critique
- Do #7 with focus but also get into a habit of swinging a 9-iron at home every day for the "feel"
- Practice without being too self-conscious on getting the perfect posture. Get the basics right first
The approach looks sound as I have been doing bits and pieces of it since last month. Putting all this into a system with rigor will hopefully deliver the results soon!
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