a simples life

Review From User :

I have been waiting a long time for this book. I wanted to know, most of all, how much was about cooking, and how much was about learning. Interestingly, it breaks down to about 20% learning, 80% how to cook. 80-120 pages are dedicated to learning, and the rest is about how to learn to cook, with anecdotes, quotes, and stories about learning sprinkled in. That being said, the 20% on learning is very good and Tim has some great learning strategies to add add to your repertoire.

This review is focused mostly on the learning anything aspect of the book. I have gone though the cooking sections and for learning how to cook this book is without a doubt the best out there. I am big into cooking so I would have gotten the book just for learning how to cook great food, but the meta skill of how to learn anything is more interesting to me.

Tim's learning strategy is broken down into 2 acronyms: DiSSS and CaFE. Each capital letter has a meaning, but they are not important; I reworded each one below.

These break down to a learning process that goes like this:

1. break down the subject into manageable chunks

2. Find the 20% of those chunks that give 80% of the results

3. Find the best way/order to learn these chunks

4. Plan ahead so that you stay motivated by using carrots and sticks

5. Compress the information into a 1 sheet piece of paper

6. Figure out how often you should practice the skill or review the information

7. Use memory techniques to lock the skill/info into your brain (He teaches Loci method, celebrity card method and the Major System)

Of these 7 sections, the first step of deconstruction and the fourth step on motivation were the most eye opening for me and the most useful to EVERY area of learning, not just the mostly non-traditional skills Tim teaches in this book.

The deconstruction section talks about how to organize an amorphous concept of which you have no understanding into manageable pieces, or lego blocks. He goes into a great process of how to find experts, interview them, reverse engineer their skillset or knowledge base and then figure out how to match that with your own unique skills to become world class quickly. This was one of the most valuable sections for me.

3 Questions he likes to ask experts are:

1. Who are your favorite teacher/favorite books

2. What are the biggest mistakes people make/biggest myths

3. What are the most important principles

The motivation section is also great. He talks about this graph of how the learning process works, where you start with this sugar rush of excitement of energy, which inevitably falls, and then you slowly build your way back up towards mastery after a plateau. Learning anything follows this kind of predictable pattern of excitement, despair, feeling like you are going nowhere, and then slow steady improvement. You can plan for this ahead of time to make learning easier and less stressful.

His best tips for motivation are:

1. use pain avoidance like having to publicly donate 1% of your income to the Nazi party if you don't follow thru

2. Use crutches when you are first learning something so you get early wins

3. Game-ify it with measurement, taking pictures, and getting friends involved in competition

Tim also includes a grab bag section on things he has already taught or are web links that go to the fourhourchef.com. These include his speed reading article, how to hack you sleep, and how to learn the first 100 words of sign language. For entrepreneurs, he includes how to prepare for public speaking, how to come up with an elevator pitch, and how to design a million dollar business in a weekend.

One of Tim's strong suits is learning languages. He teaches his system on learning languages well in the book. One of his best hacks is using a few verbs like to go, to be, and want, and to need so that you don't have to learn the conjugations of any of the other verbs, so you can just remember the infinitive of all other verbs. This way you only have to learn to say I need TO EAT and HE needs TO EAT and YOU need TO EAT, and the TO EAT part stays the same, you just change the verb "to need."

There was not much new about learning languages specifically that he hasn't already talked about on the blog or in a video, so if you are mostly interested in the language learning you might not find much new here, though the more general learning strategies I mentioned above still apply to language learning and you can get a lot out of them.

What I wish was in this book:

1. More on the Smart Drugs

I wanted to know what all his research had concluded on these. Tim hinted at these in the 4 hour body, but we don't get any more info this time around.

2. Liberal Arts Subject Learning

He doesn't address learning things that you would learn in school, such as science, math, history, writing well, or learning business. Tim knows a lot about entrepreneurship and business and advises many companies, so it would have been awesome to know how he learned about business.

3. Mental Math Missing

We never learn the mental abacus technique. This is a small one but why include it if you aren't going to teach it

4. Living the Good Life

The "Living the Good Life" section is pretty thin, only a few pages. I think the story is great, but Tim could have gone into a lot more depth here. Maybe he is saving this for his next book!

4.5 Stars

review from TimothyKenny.com

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