Definition. Learning in spurts in its purest form is learning intensely for a period of time, taking a break for a period of time, learning intensely, taking a break, etc. For example, studying 3 months for 3 hours a day, taking a 1 month break, studying 2 months for 5 hours a day, taking a 2 week break, etc. A less pure form of learning in spurts is just hard periods of study alternating with easy. It can be applied to a monthly, weekly or daily time scale. My background with learning in spurts. This quote is from here: That post was written 3 years ago, but it’s still pretty accurate, so I decided not to rewrite it. As I said above, what I do isn’t for everyone, so I’ve come up with some general suggestions. Some suggestions. As I mentioned in my bow wave post, there are advantages to taking breaks. Lowering the affective filter and letting the bow wave dissipate can result in more efficient learning, renewed motivation and an all around better state of mind. But the question is how much time do you take off? When do you jump back in? It’s a bit of a cop-out, but all I can suggest is to experiment. I’ll give you some options that I hope will help you decide what to try. Incidentally, I model a great deal of my study practices after endurance sports practices, and that’s what I’ve used for learning in spurts. When I defined this type of learning, I said it could be applied to daily, weekly or monthly time scales. On the daily scale, it’s good to have hard days and easy days, just like in endurance sports. Doing seven hard days a week, week after week, is not the most efficient way to study. You can even take a day or two off in a week, although I personally feel two days in a row is too much. For example, I like to make a list of all the things I want to do in a week, and distribute them over seven days, making sure there are two easy days. On the weekly scale, it’s good to have easy weeks occasionally, and things often come up that force a week to be easy. I mean unexpected things pop up that keep me from doing all my studies for a given week, so I suspect this happens to other people too. So it might not be worth planning for these, but I will note that this gives you the perfect excuse not to try to “catch up” by putting in double study sessions after something unexpected comes up. On the monthly scale, I follow the “periodization” concept used for endurance sports. In endurance sports, there are usually 4 seasons: pre-training, training, racing and off. Difficulty wise, these are 1, 2, 3 and 0 respectively. Switching back to languages, let’s define 0 – break, 1 – maintaining only, 2 – normal study, 3 – intense study. I study several languages at a time. For languages that I’m maintaining only, my 12 months a year might look like this: 111113111111. I didn’t go to Japan last year, so Japanese looked like this: 111111111111. For languages I’m actively studying, maybe: 112222233301. But imo, there’s nothing wrong with doing something like this: 330330330330. Instead of quitting a language completely, you might be able to get the same benefits by just easing way back. As you might have noticed, since I improved my maintenance routine, I don’t drop the languages I’m “only maintaining” down to 0 like I used to. There is little or no bow wave for those languages, so dropping them to 0 would cause me to start forgetting them quickly. Another thing you could try is switching languages. This might lower the affective filter enough to allow things to consolidate. Conclusions. I feel learning in spurts allows me to learn more efficiently. It lets me learn more per hour, and more per year, than studying straight through without breaks. Breaks, or easy periods, on a daily, weekly and monthly scale are recommended. Instead of long complete breaks, very easy periods and switching languages may be sufficient. The goal is to get to the point where you feel fresh and hungry to study again. Experiment with different kinds of alternating intense study and breaks to find what works best for you.