I ran across a Chessville article the other day called The Path to Improvement that was interesting.The author asks some questions that shows he knows how most of us study. For example, “As we’ve seen, the worst mistake we make in studying chess is that our methods of study are fragmented. We study a little of this and a little of that, and the end result is that we never master any of it. How many chess books do you have that you've read a few chapters of, then moved on to another book, without finishing the first? How many openings have you studied for a month or so, then gotten frustrated with them and moved on to another?”
“The second mistake we make is in studying the wrong things, or at least material that's inappropriate to our level. You've got to have a good understanding of the basics before you move on to more advanced concepts.”
“The basic outline of my plan is this: Master basic tactics, then basic endings, then study basic positional play and strategy, then learn basic opening principles, and finally bring it all together by playing over a collection of games with light notes…”
The truth is, much advice comes from players who are trying to become Masters, not from those who actually accomplished it. Just look at any forum where people are asking for advice on how to improve and see how much of it comes from players rated no better than the one asking. If I want advice on anything, I'll ask someonw who knows more about the subject than I do. Also, I'm skeptical of people offering me advice when they are trying to sell me something. I am more likely to listen to somebody who has been where I am and made it to where I want to be and is offering to help, not because they want something in return, but just because they are willing to share their knowledge and experience. Unfortunately, it seems to me that often GM's are not capable of teaching very well because they are so far advanced that they have forgotten what it's like to be a patzer. They can't relate to the average player. Rather like a college physics professor trying to teach basic arithmetic to an elementary school student. I think you are better off to have a teacher who may not have the advanced degree or the advanced knowledge but who can relate to a bunch of kids who know nothing about the subject and is able to communicate in a way they can understand.
One such player is USCF Life Master Alan Goldsby, He said about reaching Master, “The first thing I would do is try to talk you OUT of it! (That's right!) The odds are DEFINITELY stacked against you, less than one precent of one percent of chess players ever even come close to breaking into Master territory. It takes an incredible amount of dedication. Chess Masters sacrifice a great deal to become a Master. You have few friends outside of chess. Masters have sacrificed relationships, careers, and many other things in pursuit of chess excellence.” Read his Amazon Review
If you are not interested in becoming a master, and just looking to improve, I suggest looking over the advice on his website: LIFE MASTER TRAINING