The last few years I have become more and more convinced that when it comes to learning advanced technical diving theory, procedures and skills, that taking it nice and slow is better! I know that some guys are into the total immersion, zero to hero mentality, but my own experience as both a student and as an instructor has shown me time and time again, that a gradual, step by step approach usually makes for better internalization and more polished divers.
Sure, it's very possible to do the minimum requirements in the minimum amount of time all in one condensed period, but I do not believe that it makes for superior trained divers. IMHO, the most relaxed and proficient divers are ones that take each level of training one step at a time and have sufficient time in-between certifications and even individual class sessions to improve gradually and methodically. This stuff is not a race, and the first one to the finish line is not necessarily the more polished or skilled diver. Muscle memory and diving knowledge is not gained overnight. It has been my experience, that just like learning a musical instrument or learning a foreign language, consistent, focused, repetitive work on a daily basis leads to more polished skills and internalized theory that over time becomes second nature. There are no short cuts to this stuff, and those that think there are short cuts are usually not long timers in this sport.
I think this is especially apparent in CCR diving. CCR diving is very much a thinking man's activity. The CCR divers that become the most proficient, are usually the ones that have a very good understanding of the basic theory as well as have put in the hours over enough months and even years to really "be one with their units" and know enough to realize what they don't know! Cramming may help university students pass a final exam, but does not contribute to long-term retention. Careful, step by step progression, coupled with ongoing education and repetition makes for a much safer and more enjoyable diving experience. As they say, "practice makes perfect", but probably even more important is "Regular perfect practice, makes for perfect performance every time!"