From my own point of view, the first year of a PhD is heavily packed with new information, theory, techniques, conventions, experimental abilities, etc. Let us call all these elements "material". This new material required a lot of effort which I felt as a heavy burden in comparison to my master thesis or any previous academic experience. This burden was also complemented by requirements of the PI, funding entities, bureaucracy, etc.
The second year was also heavily packed with new and deeper material. But the burden of acquiring this new material was in my opinion, lower. This perception of a lower burden can be due to better learning methods, more experience, a more relaxed view on life, due to actually less new "material" to deal with.
I felt as if I had to sustain the same first year burden for several years, I would eventually collapse. And even though the second year burden was lower, I would not be able to continually perform at a good level under such burden.
Is there any point in an academic's life where the burden diminishes? I enjoy learning new stuff, carrying out new experiments and acquiring new skills. But the rate at which I feel this is necessary during a PhD is for me too high and I would not like to have a permanent life under this burden.
Just to be clear, it is obvious that in Academia it is necessary to acquire and master new "material" continuously. My question focuses on the "rate", if it makes sense.