This post was originally published on my blog.
I got a phone call last TuesdayÂ around 8 pm. The operator told me a daily task broke in the production and I had to take care of it as soon as possible.
I turned on my laptop and connected to the customer's system. I checked the error logs and found a decent error in the file. I found the place where the exception was thrown. Then I analyzed the code in the function.And I had no idea what was the real cause of the system error. No clear bug in the code... I looked at it from every angle and couldn'tÂ find a solution.
And I still had no idea what was the real cause of the system error. No obvious bug in the code... I looked at it from every angle and couldn'tÂ find a solution. I got stuck.
I finally gave up. It was late and I knew we can re-run the task in the morning when I find the solution.
I logged off, talked for a moment t my little brother, made a tea... And then I knew where the problem was. I wentÂ back, checked... And it was right there, in the database!
How often do you get stuck on writing a code to yet another feature?
You concentrate hardÂ to find a solution to the problem. ThenÂ after a while, you're so frustrated that you decide to grab a tea and rant how a bad day you have? Or you decide to fix a bug in the different part of the software? Then after some time, you come up with a solution that makes you jump back to write code for the first problem?
The psychologistsÂ call this impression of feeling stuck an impasse. And what comes after a break is anÂ insight.
An impasse occurs when you concentrate on something too hard. It's counterintuitive. We were thought at school that to achieve something we struggle with we should try harder.
When you're stuck you may feel it's wrong to take a break. You may think you'll lose momentum or the energy you used on solving the problem. As a result, you're getting moreÂ anxious because you can't finish the task at hand. You can even start doubting your problem-solving skills.
It's important to take a break in times like this.
It's when you do something else that you have this 'aha' moment. Â The moment of sudden insight or discovery.
Here are some ideas to take a break without leaving the office:
- listen to your favoriteÂ song-just listen, concentrate on the lyrics, the music, the vocalist
- watch a youtube video with that song (or try another short video you just want to
- write your name in few different ways
- 5-minute meditation
- if meditation is not an option listen to a relaxing music and concentrate on the song
- count close your eyes and count from 300 to 200 (or similar, but backward)
- look out the window and think what the clouds remind you of
- go to make a tea or a coffee
- draw whatÂ was your dream job when you were 6
- anything you can think of, that can grab your full attention for few minutes
- talk to the duck ;)
Let me know what work's for you in the comments. I appreciate new ideas too!
And if you got stuck take a break!