I think the three biggest factors is how you sleep, how you shower, and how well you're keeping your hair's ''moisture'' content in check. The last two are sort of connected obviously. Knotting and compression happens when you sleep, loosening happens when you're in the shower and so can knotting, and it won't want to knot at all if your hair is too conditioned and the hair just slips past eachother or dry to the point of where the hair doesn't want to flow and bend.
I think the biggest thing is not over-moisturizing, I see pictures of people with dreads 2 years old and I have more progress on some of my least-matured dreads at 5 months. I don't want to come off harsh or hurt anybody's feelings, but that seriously blows my mind
While sleeping there obviously isn't much you can control, but it is where most of the progress happens. The most you can really do train yourself to sleep on a different side if one side if progressing too fast. You could try to simulate tossing and turning before and after bed if you're the kind of person that doesn't move at all for 8 hours, this might help speed things up a little bit but it's up to you.
While in the shower you can help progress a little bit, but make sure you don't go overboard. A lot of people say to dump the baking soda mixture onto your hair, let it sit for a few minutes then rinse it out. What I do is wet my hair first, then very gently massage and ''sponge'' my hair while pouring the BS mixture in. I also only leave it in my hair for a MAX of 30 seconds, any longer and it's going to fry your hair. I use maybe a tablespoon or two, to maybe 2-3 cups(i've never measured exactly)
Basically what I'm trying to say I guess, is that it all comes down to ''showering properly'' lmao. I haven't done anything to my hair for 5 months except wash and separate it, and that's the best you can do imo. The last chick that complimented my hair complained that she didn't like having dreads because of how much work they were to maintain lol..
the photos don't really do it justice Really the only hair that hasn't knotted up is a little bit of short hair underneath everything on the sides, everything else is at least completely knotted up for a few inches near the top. I have maybe 10-ish dreads that are completely knotted from top to bottom and I'd consider them practically mature lol. I haven't had to separate anything for a little over a month now, except for small strings of loose hair that sometimes wraps around two knotted dreads.