The Benefits of Incremental Learning: Why Small Steps Lead to Big Results

Are you tired of feeling overwhelmed when trying to learn a new skill? Do you struggle to remember everything you've read or heard in one go? If so, then incremental learning may be the solution you've been looking for.

Incremental learning, also known as spaced repetition, is the process of breaking down information into smaller, manageable chunks and reviewing them regularly over time. This technique has been proven to be highly effective in helping learners retain information, especially for long-term memory.

In this article, we'll explore the benefits of incremental learning and why taking small steps can lead to big results.

The Science behind Incremental Learning

Before we delve into the benefits of incremental learning, let's take a quick look at the science behind it.

The human brain is not designed to absorb large amounts of information in one go. Studies have shown that we are more likely to remember information if it is presented to us in small, manageable pieces. This is because our brains process information better when it's broken down into smaller, digestible chunks.

Additionally, the brain needs time to consolidate new information into long-term memory. By spacing out your learning over time, you give your brain the opportunity to strengthen the neural connections that are formed during the learning process.

The Forgetting Curve

Have you ever struggled to remember something you learned only a few days ago? This is because of what's known as the forgetting curve.

The forgetting curve is a graph that shows how quickly we tend to forget information over time. On the first day, we can remember almost everything we learned. However, as time goes on, we begin to forget more and more of what we learned.

By reviewing information regularly, we can combat the forgetting curve and improve our retention. This is where incremental learning comes in.

The Benefits of Incremental Learning

Now that we understand the science behind incremental learning, let's take a look at some of the benefits it provides.

Improved Retention

One of the most significant benefits of incremental learning is improved retention. By breaking down information into smaller, more manageable pieces and reviewing it regularly, learners are more likely to remember the information for the long term.

In fact, studies have shown that incremental learning can increase retention rates by up to 80%. This means you'll be able to remember more information for longer periods of time than you would with traditional learning methods.

Reduced Stress

Have you ever felt overwhelmed while trying to learn something new? This is a common experience for many learners. Incremental learning can help reduce this stress by breaking down complex topics into smaller pieces.

When you're not overwhelmed, you're more likely to be motivated to learn. This motivation can lead to a more enjoyable learning experience, which can further improve retention rates.

Increased Efficiency

Incremental learning can also increase efficiency. By breaking down information into smaller chunks, you're able to focus on specific concepts or skills. This means you spend less time trying to absorb everything at once, and more time actually learning.

Additionally, the regular review of these smaller chunks means that you're less likely to forget what you've learned. This can reduce the need to go back and relearn old material, saving you time in the long run.

Better Learning Outcomes

Because incremental learning is more efficient and effective, it can lead to better learning outcomes. When you're able to retain information for longer periods of time, you're more likely to be able to apply that information in practical situations.

This means that incremental learning can lead to better job performance or academic outcomes. Whether you're trying to improve your skills for work or school, incremental learning can help you achieve your goals.

How to Implement Incremental Learning

Now that we've covered the benefits of incremental learning, let's take a look at how you can implement it in your own learning.

Break Down Information

The first step is to break down the information you're trying to learn into smaller, more manageable pieces. This could mean breaking down a chapter into sections or breaking down a concept into sub-concepts.

By breaking down information, you'll be able to focus on specific pieces of information at a time. This can help reduce overwhelm and improve retention.

Create a Schedule

Once you've broken down the information, create a schedule for reviewing it. This could mean scheduling regular study sessions, setting up reminders on your phone, or using a spaced repetition app like Anki or Quizlet.

The key is to review the information regularly over time. This will help combat the forgetting curve and improve retention rates.

Test Yourself

Finally, test yourself regularly to ensure you're retaining the information you've learned. This could mean taking practice quizzes, creating flashcards, or explaining concepts to others.

By testing yourself, you'll be able to identify areas where you need more practice and focus your efforts accordingly.


Incremental learning is a highly effective technique for improving retention, reducing stress, increasing efficiency, and achieving better learning outcomes. By breaking down information into smaller, more manageable pieces and reviewing it regularly over time, learners are more likely to remember what they've learned for the long term.

If you're tired of feeling overwhelmed while trying to learn something new, give incremental learning a try. By taking small steps, you can achieve big results.

So, what are you waiting for? Start breaking down that complex topic into smaller pieces and start reviewing them regularly. Your brain (and your future self) will thank you.

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