Here is a brief synopsis on how I am using the GCTS detailed at ChessOk and summarized here on the blog, modified and altered to fit our needs. I'd also like the readers to post comments on how they use the GCTS and what thier experiences have been so far.
Being a full-time employee for a non-chess company, my 'chess day' is broken into two parts: My pre-work routine and my evening routine. Between these two study segments I try to get as much done as possible, and on occasion I cannot do anything during my Post-work Routine because of other prior commitments. So my pre-work routine is essential in keeping myself fresh with regards to chess.
Originally I had tried getting in 4 time units a day, as called for my the breakdown, by shortening the time unit itself. For example, if I had 2 hours of study time available for the day, my time unit would equal 30 minutes that day. If I had 1 hour, then it would equal 15 minutes. After a while, I found that this resulting in a higher rate of thrashing, so I decided to standardize the time unit to one hour and not stress over getting in 4 units of study a day. For me, it is more like a 16 unit study cycle that I step through, starting with Day1 and progressing, as time permits, through the schedule. The standard schedule looks like this:
Day1 - SO2, VT1, SG1
Day2 - VE2, PL1, VT1
Day3 - SG1, VG1, PL1, VT1
Day4 - SO2, VE1, VT1
(see this post here for what this all means)
The 4-Day routine gets translated into a 16-unit cycle:
SO2, VT1, SG1, VE2, PL1, VT1, SG1, VG1, PL1, VT1, SO2, VE1, VT1
Further, I have made some modifications thanks to feedback from jaxter here (because your input is vital to the collective):
VE2 = SE1 + VE1
I have also broken up each of the SO2's into two SO1's each so they are more manageable in my cycle.
The end result is:
SO1, VT1, SG1, VE1, SO1, PL1, VT1, SE1, SG1, SO1, VG1, PL1, VT1, SO1, VE1, VT1
I list these on a whiteboard and check them off as I do them. I am not married to the order, so if the opportunity comes to play, I play and mark off 'PL1', or if I'm feeling kind of 'endgamey', I'll study or solve endgames. I do make sure I hit each segment before I begin a new cycle. This ensures homogeneous studying across the chess spectrum. I periodically review the cycle every couple months or so based on feedback from my losses and my chess coach.
Pre-Work Routine (non-cycle training)
I have discovered very recently that actually reading a chess book in the early morning hours is not a good way to awaken from my dreams! With that in mind, I avoid any study routines that require written materials. I have gotten into the habit of doing about 30 minutes of tactical problems at the Chess Tactics Server each morning. This gets me thinking about chess right off the bat in the morning, and after a couple of problems my head is clear and I am thinking as I should. These problems are generally not too difficult. However, the trick to scoring well is solving them in under 3 seconds! I try and concentrate on recognizing ideas and getting the tactics correct, even if I lose a point or two in the process. I have noticed that I sometimes go into a 'funk' in my solving abilities, missing several in a row at times. This can really kill your rating on the site. I have found that I think better if I do not know what my rating is at that moment, so I tape an index card to my screen to cover my rating that is displayed below the board. It helps.
Remember, It is more important for us to solve the problem correctly than to rush a move and get it wrong, so I would aim at higher rates of solving than rating points. The site is primarily for tactics training as it pertains to blitz chess, so for that reason the 3 second limit is used. I would guess that the better blitz player you are, the better score you'd get at this site.
In Summary, I am able to do 1/2 unit of Basic Tactics Solving each day. I refer to this as non-cycle training as it is not included in my Cycle. It is in addition to any training I do in the Cycle.
Post-Work Routine (Cycle Training)
My Post-Work Routine includes all of my other study routines that require sit-down, book in hand, board in front studying, including Openings, Strategy/Middlegame Theory and play, Endgame theory and play, and intense tactical training on difficult positions (remember that my non-cycle training is all about basic tactical drills). This is the meat and potatoes of my studying. It includes at least one weekly G60 game played on ICC (PL1), and one simul against an IM or better (PL1) on weekends if I can get it in. Otherwise, I play a bunch of G5, G10, or G15's. I inherently get in about 30 minutes of strategy/middlegame studying due to my ongoing correspondence games, and this helps me recognize and develop useful plans during these games. If you are playing correspondence games, you'll agree it is a great way to train your analysis skills and strategical sense. Otherwise, I consult my cycle and decide if I want to study the next item on the list, and go from there.
I hope this helps give other players an idea of how I use the GCTS to promote good, homogeneous study in chess. It's important to concentrate on all aspects of the game when you are in training at the sub-2200 level, and the GCTS gives you that.
Please post your ideas, comments, and criticisms here at the chess training blog and good luck to everyone!