Tim Ferriss’ Meta-Learning Methods – Chapter Notes

What follows is the one pager of the Meta-Learning chapter of Tim Ferriss Four Hour Chef (the first part of CaFE is one-paging whatever you’re learning).

You can get the full chapter and method notes from the Four Hour Chef’s meta-learning section here.


“It is possible to become worldclass in just about anything in six months or less. Armed with the right framework, you can seemingly perform miracles” – Tim Ferriss

The Two Guiding Principles

  1. Failure Points. Avoid things likely to trip you up.
  2. The Margin Of Safety. Pick a plan that ensures great results

DiSSS – Planning Your Attack

Deconstruction – The Minimum Learnable Units

“Students are subordinate to materials…Material beats method.” – Tim Ferriss

“When you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is.” – Alice Waters, founder of Chef Panissee

Break the skill down into bite-sized pieces & identify all failure points and all fundamental principles.

Find and interview the pros (especially the unconventional pros) in the field, and find out what they do in common, what trips beginners up, how they would teach you, their fav learning resources, other unconventional pros, etc.

Selection – Choose The Best 20% To Focus On

“Do as little as possible, not as much as possible” – Henk Kraaijenhof

“Simple works. Complex fails.” – Tim Ferriss

Find the MED (Minimum Effective Dose) you need to learn this skill. What teaches overall principles well? What micro-skills are used throughout the skill?

MED = “The lowest volume, the lowest frequency, the fewest changes that get us to our desired result is what I label the minimal effective dose (MED)”

Sequencing – The Order In Which You’ll Learn

“How do you cut time without cutting corners?” – Tim Ferriss

What is the best order in which to learn? How can you avoid all the tripping points and learn all the fundamental principles and micro-skills? How can you make sure you’ll stick with it?

Stakes – Real Life Consequences

What rewards or punishments can you put in place that will ensure you will follow through? People counting on you? Money on the line?


CaFE – Making Things Easier

Compression – One Page It

“The word decision, closely related to incision, derives from the meaning ‘a cutting off’. Making effective decisions – and learning effectively – requires massive elimination and the removal of options.” – Tim Ferriss

Fit the entire skill on one page.

Frequency – When & How Often?

When & how often should you practice? What is the ideal schedule that you’ll stick to?

Encoding – Easy Memorization

Use Mnemonics and memory techniques to remember things.


You can get all 5 pages of my notes on this chapter, and on DiSSS and CaFE, here. (’tis free)

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