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I was wondering how a normal adult in their 20s could best structure their life to make best use of their capacity to learn. (I am no expert in cognitive science, so I assume just a really common definition of "learn" here. We might measure this by, for example, hours of sustained, intense study per 24 hrs. I realize my question might be a major oversimplification also, leaving out factors like stress.).

If there is some upper bound on how quickly learning occurs, then there may be little point in e.g. studying > 6 hrs. per day. Does anyone know of any research which shows some general, asymptotic upper bound for learning in adults (20-30)?

Anectodal examples might also be useful, so what are some examples of the "most learned" adults and how they structure their days?

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Anecdotal- I found learning in the mid 20s to be easiest when I'm actively interested in the subject and am learning "to do", because I want to. This is quite different from mindless drilling I was exposed to as a teenager, or studying for exams in college –  Alex Stone Feb 21 '13 at 5:27
this might be answered by looking at the expected credit hrs. of a full-time student at most institutions. This would come out to 15 + 3(15) = 60 hrs of study for 15-credit full-time student. For some graduate programs, this is even the maximum allowed. –  T. Webster Feb 21 '13 at 21:36
Going off memory, Ericsson's research on expertise acquisition has suggested that internationally recognized masters tend to have practiced 3-4 hours a day for many years, and that falling outside of these bounds may be counterproductive. It'll take a bit for me to look up the references, but great question! –  Christian Hummeluhr Mar 31 '13 at 11:21

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