Spacing for learning 1

Category: Learning

Of all the various components of a sturdy study system, spacing for learning is the most difficult, in my experience. Due to various internal messages, we slowly over time erode the initial planning, and fall into bad habits. These contribute to stress and even the content studied effectively, are eroded.

In this series, I will attempt to set out a generic system that can easily be adapted to your specific environment and needs.

What do you need to start the planning:

  1. List of main subject themes.
  2. List of topics under each main theme.
  3. List of resources to be used for each topic and theme.
  4. Completion targets.
  5. Calendar to schedule study units.

Important scheduling considerations:

A generic example will be used to illustrate the use of all the elements. This is a dynamic and adjustable process. Usage of of allocated time blocks can be less than initially planned, but should never expand. If work is completed faster than allocated, start on a new theme or topic. If you are not finished within the allocated time, move on. This seems counter-intuitive. Keeping to the schedule reduces stress - an important factor in terms of retention of knowledge. The schedule also directly allows for this to happen in a constructive manner.

Study units:

A study unit is variable but consists of a period of work, with a break at the end. There is no specific ideal length, but should not be more than 45 minutes of work; and the break should never be longer than, or become longer than the study session.
Suggested study units:

  1. 20 minutes work, 10 minutes break - Low pressure revision.
  2. 45 minutes work, 15 minutes break - Initial preparation.
  3. 25 minutes work, 5 minutes break - Fast paced review.

Preparing the calendar:

On the calendar, block out the following:

  1. Sleep times
  2. Exercise times
  3. Time off - this is not exercise or anything else. It is time away from everything else. Do not skimp on this.
  4. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Other commitments.

This is the easy part done. In the next part, we will start scheduling specific times. Warning - this gets tricky.