How do you take a short break?

What do you do to remove yourself from a problem?

You know, when you are working a problem and you can’t seem to see what is wrong. When you recognize that you are making a mistake and can’t figure out where it is, and you know you just need to take a step back. What tools do you use to help yourself?

When I was an intern, a mentor of mine gave me his bean bags and taught me how to juggle. At the end of that summer I became a really good juggler. I still have the bean bags he gave me.

Lately I have been doing things which take too much time to stay productive. I find that I am getting distracted from the problem and getting into projects that are far too large to be a simple break from the problem.

How do you take a break? How do you step away from a problem and get back to it in time to be productive?

Do something that’s both productive and instantly gratifying.

My go to is cooking. Take an hour or 2 to make a recipe. It pulls your attention away to another detail oriented task, and it satisfies the reward pathway because you not only accomplished a task, you get to eat it.


I spin yarn. It’s both meditative and I can really clear my head when doing so. It can be done for 5 minutes or hours depending on the length of break I need.

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My advice is to help you take a step back from the problem, and help you “regain focus” on the problem. Its not on how to de-stress from difficult tasks, my advise for that is to just go do something you enjoy haha.

If your stuck debugging and can’t seem to figure out what the hell is going wrong, and want to “take a break” so you can come back and fix the issue, go talk to a duck.

You might be going “what the hell are you talking about? Why would I talk to a duck?” at this point. What I mean is you should go about explaining your problem to someone, or anything. You could go and talk to a rubber duck, you know the ones that are in bath tubs.

Going over the problem is an excellent way to vent your frustration, review the problem, and gain some new perspective on the problem. Often I find I think, or notice a few potential pitfalls with my current approach, or I find the issue(s) I am having aren’t applicable, or overblown.

I personally talk to myself (when alone, when no one can think I’m crazy) when debugging some issues. I probably would be fine talking to some inanimate object, but I’m fine talking to myself and find it works great haha. Otherwise using my poor co-worker who has an excellent record of sitting there listening, and helping me debug an issue by just being there. By going over the issue with my co-worker I stumble upon most of my dumb issues haha.

So yes, I recommend “talking” the problem, with someone, anyone, no-one, or a rubber duck :smiley:


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Take a long bath
Do mind-numbing things that allow your mind to wander – shine shoes, polish chromey things, wax/wash your car, take a walk, sit and stare at something, clean your keyboard/mouse, wash dishes, adult coloring books, sketch, solder.
Take a nap/sleep/work on it the next day.

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Wow, I just got into this.
I am very very amateur. I tried carding some wool by hand, and that was very unfun. I bought some pre-carded material online and I am currently giving that a go. I think I may have purchased something that requires some more skill to spin than I have. The stuff I carded by hand was much easier to work with.
Anyway, here is my current bobbin and material I am working with. Happy Coding

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This reminds me of some advice someone gave me once about trying to find something that you lost. He said, “Go look in the refrigerator”. You know it is not in the refrigerator, but go look there anyway. The absurdity of the action can help restart your brain and help you remember where you put whatever you are looking for.
So, Here are my rubber ducks. The one on the left is Jake, and the one on the right is Elwood. We are about to have some conversations about JavaScript Objects.


Jake and Elwood are my hot tub buddies. They glow in the dark because… well they just do. So, coding, hot tub, rubber ducks, spinning and cooking. I think I got this.

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That’s funny you just started! It’s seriously kept me from quitting the code grind more times than I can count while still keeping me in the creative mindset. It’s a wonderful tool. Hand carding can be fun with the right technique. Here’s some of my spin therapy when I’m in the code rut. Happy coding to you as well! image


  1. You can read an interesting book. That is always fun.
  2. You can work on different problem/project that you put to the side earlier.
  3. Just take a 24 hour break, then work on it again.
    Stepping back from a problem to focus on something else will let your brain relax a bit. When you come back to it you may have another way to solve the problem that works.