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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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If it's Saturday and you won't be coding again until Monday, how do you get your mind off your current work?

I find myself lost in problem solving even though I can't do anything about it (and shouldn't). How do you go about shutting it off and picking it up again Monday morning?

Discussion (66)

bennypowers profile image
Benny Powers 🇮🇱🇨🇦

As a religious Jew, once we light the candles on Friday night, we don't touch our phones or computers until havdallah Saturday night (barring emergencies, like the time I delivered our youngest Saturday morning at 4am, but I digress).

Instead of social media, we socialize. Instead of feeds, we feast. Instead of merge conflicts, we discuss the great makhlokos (legal and philosophical differences of opinion) in Jewish scholarship.

In short, it's a day for being instead of doing.

4lch4 profile image
Devin W. Leaman

I'm not religious myself, but I'm certainly gonna try this. Especially the makhlokos. I believe we all need to have discussions regarding our difference of opinion in healthy ways, otherwise, we never grow as individuals.

bennypowers profile image
Benny Powers 🇮🇱🇨🇦

You don't have to be religious to try something 😁. Any positive step you take or small commitment you make in life is worthwhile if it helps you grow.

It's like refactoring. Even if you don't finish the entire file, if you make one method a drop more readable or efficient it was probably worth it. 🤓

codingmindfully profile image
Daragh Byrne

I love this. We're a society that has lost sight of the importance of simply being.

bennypowers profile image
Benny Powers 🇮🇱🇨🇦

Yeah it's good times. I mean, I don't want to make it seem like all you have to do is keep shabbos and allofasudden you're some spiritual luminary or anything. But I certainly think that the opportunity to engage the soul is greater when your family, your community, etc, set the day aside for such things.

dangolant profile image
Daniel Golant

Currently ruining my roommate’s save file in RDR2

somedood profile image
Basti Ortiz

That is pure evil.

The game is GREAT, though. What a masterpiece. I place all my bets on RDR2 to be the Game of the Year.

dangolant profile image
Daniel Golant

waiting for the MP to come out and totally ruin my life. I know it's a big ask but I feel like this would've been an amazing game for co-op (particularly local).

elmuerte profile image
Michiel Hendriks

I always try to finish things before the end of Friday, or get it into a stable state. If there is still time left on Friday I will simply do other things which can I also wrap up before the end of day. So I try not to get "stuck" with a problem on Friday at the end of my working day.

The things I do to "wind down" on Friday afternoon include cleaning up code/documentation, or reading unrelated technical articles. Whatever you read should be unrelated to the problems you were solving, otherwise you might get inspiration for the problem you were working on.

Once it is actually gets weekend my mind is at ease concerning the work problem and I'm free to do whatever in the weekend.

oprearocks profile image
Adrian 🤖 Oprea

I initially wrote a huge answer detailing the difference between physical fatigue and mental fatigue.

You're smart folks, you already know that, so I decided to tell you exactly what I do to disconnect.

Whenever I have the time, especially on weekends, I find a patch of water (a lake, or something) and sit by a tree and stare at things. That's my mental cue that work is over and that it's time to do something else.

I play with Rubik's cubes and other games that engage the brain in a different way. I go and play with my kids. I take a walk with them in the park. If you don't have kids you can do it with a friend. These moments are priceless.

Oh, and I also try to sleep as much as I want to, during the weekends.

Have a great weekend!

tayambamwanza profile image
Tayamba Mwanza

Maybe you should write a detailed post as a separate article I'd definitely read it. If you ever get around to it, maybe you can even link me to it so I don't miss it 😁

carlymho profile image
Carly Ho 🌈

My work admittedly does a good job of making sure devs can leave the office and not feel like they have to code at home—the head of engineering is actually pretty adamant about it unless there’s a very rare emergency.

I do code for fun on the weekends because it is something I legit enjoy, but I keep my fun projects distinct from work and also have a lot of other hobbies to keep me from doing too much of one thing. I think it’s good to cultivate some non-programming hobbies, just to keep things fresh; in my case it’s writing, music, and roleplaying games.

foresthoffman profile image
Forest Hoffman

+1 to that. I've found music to be an excellent way to pass the time. Especially if there's a particular piece I'm in love with and really interested in learning. RP/Multiplayer games are also tons of fun :D

erdo profile image
Eric Donovan • Edited on

Before I leave work, I add a sentence right in the code that I'm working on, so that it breaks the project (I don't commit that obviously).

The sentence details what my current thought process is, what I am going to try next etc.

Because it stops the project compiling, the IDE now puts a bunch of red squiggles all around it, highlighting what I need to read whenever I get back to work.

Now that my thought process is out of my brain and written in the code, I feel more free to forget about it (unless it's some particularly exciting thing).

I shut the laptop, leave it at work, and don't have slack or work email going to my phone.

(If it's a really exciting problem, I will occasionally indulge myself and think it through in my free time, but with a pencil and paper - definitely not on my work laptop)

jonathanray profile image
Jonathan Ray

I shut down my work computer until Monday morning. My phone doesn't have work email or Slack set up by choice.

sergio profile image
deleteme deleteme

Same here - it works.

restoreddev profile image
Andrew Davis

College football and video games. 😂

caseycole589 profile image
Casey Cole

Programming something else and getting stuck on that so, then all monday morning while I should be working on what I was doing Friday I am thinking about the problem I encountered over the weekend. It's a horrible loop that never ends.

buphmin profile image

The best thing you can do is find a hobby, something that makes you happy and captures your attention. For me I play video games and recently have been rebuilding my computer with custom water cooling.

As good as it is to constantly learn and push yourself it is equally important to take a break and relax so that you can come back fresh and invigorated.

joelnet profile image
JavaScript Joel

Clearly this is hypothetical. Not coding until Monday? No way!

ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

Wound up being hypothetical because I had to make a one-line change 😇

joelnet profile image
JavaScript Joel

That's how it starts a one line change. Before you know it you've refactored 20 files.

goyo profile image
Grzegorz Ziemonski

In one of the books (I think in it's Cal Newport's Deep Work), the guy describes his "shutdown" routine in which he always says the same words after work and then never gets back to it again. This way his brain is wired that this words really mean "end of work for the day".

thomaswdmelville profile image
Thomas Melville

Great book!

david_j_eddy profile image
David J Eddy

Keep problem solving, just about non-work. For example, auto mechanics, welding, crafting, reading, etc. This, I feel, it part of the whole work/life balance. Keep you mind engage by all means, but engaged in non-work related tasks.

Ever rebuild a food disposal? Sounds like an interesting weekend task. Ever pull a car engine? Thats a weekend task.

niorad profile image
Antonio Radovcic

Kid & Guitar

codingmindfully profile image
Daragh Byrne

I read a ridiculous amount, cook, eat with friends, and I'm lucky enough to live in a city where "get in the ocean" is a viable option in the summer.

I've also kind of accepted that it's OK to have a thread running working on problems. I just leave it in the background and predict that it will do what it needs to to create appropriate solutions. I try to give everything else just a bit more attention, but its presence doesn't distress me.

I've also been writing a lot at the weekends: here, Medium, my blog.

And of course I switch off using yoga and meditation :)

likebrain profile image
Ricardo Rivera • Edited on

I think you need to refelct a bit more...

First, what is the real reason to work on the Weekend and stucking on this Problems?
Hornor ? Fear? Expectations ? Loyalty...?

What is the Motivation for that ?
If you find them you can learn from it, work on it and use it for you.

Enjoy your life, but ensure that you enjoy ;)

If you dont have any problem with this kind of Motivations, you need to Look to the Week not only to the Weekend. I think this is a normal reaction of the Human Brain.

If you say youre Brain „work on it, work on it!!!!11!“ for 5 Days,
it will be able to work on Day 6 and 7 also...

The calendar or the layout is made up by people not by nature. Why should our brain orientate to it? Habit...

„the household will be destroyed in the good times“

Give your Brain some pauses on the week... and the weekend is yours...
Mindfulness can be helpful here to reduce the „on the run“ phases in the Week.

So if you are 5 Days „on the run“, you are the next few Days also „on the run“. You condition yourself like an athlete only just the brain.

I condition myself (unconsciously, like most) to solve „it-problems“ for 24 of my 30 years, with all the consequences (overwhelmingly negative from my perspective). Please do it more consciously than me.

I hope you find your right middle.

cychainey profile image
Cy Chainey

I ping myself emails over the weekend if I'm still stuck problem solving. It's not really shutting down, but it's a handy escape valve from getting to obsessed on something. I rarely ever read them on Monday though, it's more by sending them I'm harnessing the power of procrastination. 😀

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Jake Varness

I have a wife, a son, and another son on the way. Family keeps me pretty preoccupied on the weekends 😁

yechielk profile image
Yechiel Kalmenson

Ha! My thoughts exactly! 😂

bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G.

you won't be coding again until Monday

That sounds like an awful weekend.

I just code but on a personal project :D

anchnk profile image

What works best for me is either practicing sports, arts or going out with friends that do not care at all about computers. Leaving the weekend and go to countryside helps a lot too. I found it that disconnect during the weekend makes a great good to my programmer journey. It's also important that my body quit the sitting at a desk position so I always try to be active during weekend. I struggle with the problem solving noise during the week after the working day when I have to go to sleep. I found out that having a break after the working day and do something else totally different helps a lot. That's why I do sports 5 times a week and practice music as a way to let my mind flow. Ofc, all that give me less time to study to learn and to contribute to OSS but I do think it will pay in the long run. I already spend so much time during the week dedicated to programming so it's kind of a balance. That's what works for me anyway. Enjoy your weekend !

erikthered profile image
Erik Nelson

I'm on vacation in Austin this weekend so that certainly has helped me disconnect from work.

Otherwise I find making plans to do something with my wife or friends helps build a buffer between work and the weekend.

shinyuy profile image
Shinyuy Marcel

Sir please throughout your experience, does taking a break for a day or two during the weekends help ?, I mean when you come back on Mondays, do you feel sharper or like you forgot some things?. As a junior developer, did you take weekend breaks when you were learning to code or before you had your first job?. What are the best practices for high productivity in programming?.

ferricoxide profile image
Thomas H Jones II

Monday's a federal holiday (in the US), so ...won't be coding again till Tuesday (unless I want my wife to murder me, at least).

My weekend time will primarily be soaked-up watching NCAA football and NHL hockey (today), NFL (tomorrow) and probably NetFlixing (Monday and any wakeful gaps). If I hadn't just dropped $7K on car repairs, yesterday, I'd probably be trying to see Alesso, tomorrow.

At this moment, while I wait for todday's NCAA kickoff, I'm watching cartoons.

thomaswdmelville profile image
Thomas Melville • Edited on

I start before I finish work on Friday by "wrapping up the week"

This entails:

  1. Clear my inbox
  2. Get my story to a particular milestone.
  3. Review what I've learnt during the week.
  4. Write down three good things that happened this week.
  5. Write out a list for Monday morning.

This usually takes all of Friday afternoon.

On the way home I debrief the day by mentally going through all that happened during the day.

Once I get home I don't have time to think about work. Three little boys keep us very busy.
When work does creep in I write down what I was thinking and file it away for Monday morning in work.

_ben_lowery profile image
Ben Lowery

I dump my thoughts on whatever I'm working on into a file called Monday.txt (on a Friday) and then I go home.

On a weekend I play Chess and potter about with my family and then when I go into work I open Monday.txt and carry on.

As I've gotten older I've realised how critical down time is to actually been productive.

yechielk profile image
Yechiel Kalmenson

No worries, my kids make sure that I forget about work within a second of me walking in through the door 😂

ozzyogkush profile image
Derek Rosenzweig

If you're forced into stopping work before a natural ending point, make a TODO list and put it somewhere you'll check when you get back. This will help you to more quickly get back into the flow of where you were before you left. If it's a complex problem it's possible your subconscious will keep processing it while you consciously focus on other weekend-related things. Personally in these situations I find myself consciously focusing on work-related problems when I'm about to go to sleep. If that happens, try and write down any revelations and that should help get past thinking about it too much.

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Goran Paunović

Hard training with my tennis coach on a Saturday morning while my kids are still in bed helps me clean my brain and prepare for rest of the weekend.
Also, work around the house always make me feel useful. And it's good for disconnecting from my job.

driusan profile image
Dave MacFarlane

If my mind needs to program, I program. I just make sure it's on a project that I find interesting and not doing volunteer work for my employer if it's a weekend or evening.

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Guney Ozsan • Edited on

I do these at the end of every day, not just for long breaks. It helps resting my mind more frequently.

  • I leave code breaking very short notes about what and how to do. This provides my brain security that I won't forget what I was thinking so it stops thinking about them.
  • I take a short shower. The isolation helps my mind move further away and water provides relaxation and good sleep.
  • I engage in other mental activity. Gaming, drawing or photo editing. Our brains are poor at multitasking. If you give it a busy task, it will stop thinking about the other eventually. This is why having a hobby is more productive.
  • Related with the last one, a day long family time breaks my mind from everything.
oldrichs profile image
Oldrich Svec • Edited on

Recently I was playing with our two dogs and thought what would it take to be more like them. I realized that the main difference is that humans have the inner voice. Since then I try to block the inner voice as much as possible. I feel like it makes my life better - I now live more in presence than in thoughs.

codevault profile image
Sergiu Mureşan • Edited on

I play some Factorio... which also, in a way, is programming ^^'

lyfolos profile image
Muhammed H. Alkan

Watching conferences :P

tforster profile image
Troy Forster

It has never occurred to me to shutoff. Saturday and Sunday are days to code my own projects, explore and try new tech

aghost7 profile image
Jonathan Boudreau


jwollner5 profile image
John 'BBQ' Wollner

A lot of weeks I'll be up all night tinkering, not necessarily on work stuff, but when I'm wired up I find that working a side project helps me Rev down

pbnj profile image
Peter Benjamin

I listen to music/podcasts on long walks/hikes.

I play Dungeons and Dragons with a group of friends.

I read books at coffee shops.

emalp profile image

After you finish work on Friday, just go outside that evening to take your mind off work. Try meditating, it helps a lot on will control.
After Friday, I usually go out and try to play some sports like soccer or anything you like. Try visiting some new places or maybe even just take a stroll. This way you can hit a refresh button on your mind.
Also, you could code on a different project like your personal ones.
Hope this helps.

fultonbrowne profile image
Fulton Browne

I don't

jfrankcarr profile image
Frank Carr

Mostly guitar stuff.

isabolic99 profile image

Watching netflix, house of card, season 6..

ckaotik profile image

Living in a big city, I tend to walk home when there's too much on my mind. It takes way longer but by the time I get home, I'll only be thinking about dinner 😄

bluebell_lester profile image
Bluebell Lester

If you have enough other stuff to do and occupy your attention, it happens automatically.
Like household work or sport or a hobby or some project unrelated to programming.

kayis profile image
K (he/him) • Edited on

Friends, partners, parties, concerts, training, biking, food, games, guitar, movies, books...

Sometimes I have so much to do, I don't know how to find time for work ;)

kyleljohnson profile image
Kyle Johnson

Watch TV (mostly sports) and play video games.

joshichinmay profile image
Chinmay Joshi

I make sure I close everything related to work before leaving my workspace. I think this is the easiest way for me to stay away from coding for weekends.

shinyuy profile image
Shinyuy Marcel

Please Sirs I would appreciate your comments, with your weekly coding or working program, or what you think can make one grow better and be very productive in programming.

sleepyfran profile image
Fran González

Reading, playing videogames and going out helps shutting my mind off about work perfectly!

mootrichard profile image
Richard Moot

WoW Classic.. Helps me not think about work quite well.