DEV Community


Posted on

Use a Checklist to Un-Stuck Yourself

This is part 4 of Hack Your Brain to be a Better Developer, my talk from AdieCon 2020.

There’s a brain resources problem that is exposed when we get so stuck that we can’t think of what to do next. We don’t have the emotional and creative resources to save the code problem, so we also don’t have the emotional and creative resources to solve the get-unstuck problem.

In times like this I turn to my three-part un-stuck yourself checklist (shout out to Coach Jennifer Underwood for the term un-stuck yourself).

Take Care of You

Do you need to eat a sandwich?
When was the last time you went outside?
Would a short nap help?

Name the Problem

Re-read the original task - are you shaving the yak?
Enumerate what you do know - you've been thinking about what you don't know, refocus on what you do know
Write one sentence that names where you are stuck

Re-frame the Problem

Have an attitude of let’s see. Reframe your one sentence as curiosity - from I don't know, to I get to find out.
What one thing can you do next? Pick the smallest unit of action you can do next. It doesn't have to solve the problem! In fact it probably won't, and that's ok, the goal is get going.
Do it!

Now you've gone from so stuck you can't think, to taking action towards your goal. Congrats!

Top comments (0)