Coder’s Block Is Real — Here’s 5 Ways to Overcome

If you’re currently spinning your wheels on a coding project and feel like you’re going nowhere fast; if you feel like you’ve hit a wall in your coding and aren’t sure how to proceed, let me tell you something. I’ve been there; we’ve all been there at some point — the point at which our coder brains feel like a blob of melted cheese and our courage continues to ooze away. You’re not alone — there is help… and hope :)

In this article, I’d like to encourage you with 5 tips to overcome coder’s block — but these will work for any kind of mental block in your professional and educational career.

  1. Get a glass of water — It might seem like an elementary thought, but because the brain is made up of 70% water, staying hydrated is one of the best ways to keep your focus and help your thought processes run smoothly. If it helps, keep a water bottle at the ready while you’re working or get up at regular intervals to get yourself a drink of water. Which brings me to number two…
  2. Get up and move — in my experience learning to code, one of the best ways to overcome coder’s block is to simply get up and take a break for some physical activity. Any physical activity, even if its just a short walk around your office building or to a nearby park, is helpful. Exercise is proven to improve brain function when it comes to memory, learning and reasoning. This is because exercise brings a greater supply of oxygenated blood to your brain, which your brain needs to function properly. Because exercise also increases the production of serotonin — a hormone that is essential to a feeling of well being — exercise can also help lift feelings of frustration and discouragement over your project.

So you’ve gotten some water, taken a brisk walk break and hopefully gotten a healthy snack (unsalted nuts, cheese and a piece of fruit are great choices).

Here’s tip Number 3:

3. Talk to someone about your project. Whether on Stack Overflow, in your favorite code chat room or with a trusted friend — speaking to someone about your coding issue is an important step toward a solution. Preferably, this should be a person who is also knowledgeable about code since they may be able to offer some helpful advice on how to move forward. My sister, my Mom and I always brainstorm together when one of us encounters an instance of code block while working on a project. Even if you don’t have a coder friend or family member with which to share your concerns, simply talking through the problem with someone you trust or even talking out loud to yourself can help you find a solution.

4. Emmerse yourself in the subject you are trying to learn. There are many relevant instructional videos on You Tube and written tutorials that help coders get through the common challenges we all face. For example, if you’re looking to create a bar chart using D3.js — search for videos on that topic and you’ll find various helpful tutorials. Other valuable resources include free code related eBooks. Syncfusion is a great place to download free coding books for various languages and frameworks.

5. Manage your time — last but not least, time management is one of the best ways to stave off coder’s block. I like to use the Pomodoro method, which involves setting a timer at regular intervals and working only for that amount of time before getting up for a short break. For example, you may want to work for 25 minutes at a time and after that take a 5 minute break. Or maybe you’d like to work for 1 hour and every hour get a 10 minute break. Decide on what intervals work for you and stick to it. Taking frequent breaks will help keep you from staring at your screen for too long without a solution. If you’d like to learn more about the Pomodoro technique, this Wikipedia article will tell you what you need to know.

I hope these tips will help you in overcoming coder’s block. Stick with it — I know you can do it!