5 Steps in Programming to Keep You From Getting Stuck

Ilona Codes on August 03, 2019

Getting stuck in a programming problem is a very common thing. For example, when you are learning to code or a new programming language or face a... [Read Full]
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My thought on this as a senior developer who wants the junior developers to become great and amazing developers:

Please ask another person fast!

Don't sit it there and get frustrated and almost tilt.

I ask my juniors probably at least once every 2 hours if they don't have me anything to ask.

Usually, it is easier to talk through the problem with another person. The rubber duck method is excellent but the rubber duck does not calm you down or asks questions back.

But another human can do this.


I agree with most of this, but I would caution junior devs on not looking to someone else to give them the answer right off the bat. Fighting through a problem yourself, even getting frustrated, is actually a good thing (even though it isn't pleasant). I learn more from those situations than I do from when the answer comes easily. (The frustration itself helps ingrain it in my memory!)

In other words, when you ask for help, you should be ready to tell them What You Have Tried.


You are 100% right!

I don't tell them just the answer.
I never give them the answer.

At some point, they went the wrong path and I just guide them back to the point where they made the error and then guide them on the right path to the solution.

So I ask them what the problem is and let them explain. This helps them to get the frustration out. Then I ask them what they think is the problem. Then we try their solution together and usually it does not work. So even if I by this point know the solution I will ask them what they will do next and why and so on. I hope you see the pattern.

If they then tell me that they googled for 2 hours and were sitting there for 2 more hours frustrated of course I will help them. At this point, something went wrong completely.

And yeah I tell them that frustration is part of the job also part of the fun to solve the problem :)


I was taught the 20 minute rule and it's been really helpful. Basically when you're stuck try everything you can think of for about 20 minutes. Google stuff, try stuff, try to talk it through on your own... and if you're still stuck ask for help. I usually try to spend 5 minutes making sure I can accurately explain the problem to the person I'm asking.

It's been a huge thing because it's easy to just ask for help without trying yourself and it's also easy to sit there feeling like you haven't struggled enough to justify asking for help yet.


You are right! You should struggle for a little bit!

Give that brain some work :)

Just don't tilt!

For some people, it is hard to find that line where they tilt.


Great article!

I want to make an addition for in case you are stuck while debugging:

Take nothing for granted. Question everything. Oftentimes you skip lines assuming them to be too simple to break. When necessary go line by line through your code, including the obviously correct ones. Gather as much information as possible.


I've told this story a lot but when I was working on a React project when I was learning I was getting so frustrated because something just wasn't working. I struggled for like an hour and then asked for help. Two hours later I had like 6 people in Zoom with me when we finally realized instead of "component" I had typed "compontent" and we were all just skipping over that line when we were looking for the problem.


Great story!

I could relate to that. If one is new to a topic there is this feeling of being lost. And if then things do not work, you get frustrated and feel more lost.

But being into a topic and overlooking a simple typo drives you nuts :D


Amazing Conclusion to a Process that people have naturally followed but sometimes have failed to understand. I personally agree to taking a break method is what has always worked for me. I think as you have explained it does point to the fact that patience is a key to success.

One thing i`d like to add that has personally helped me is, repeating the process from start, starting from scratch with the problem. What i have observed is that people get too scared of using

Ctrl + A : Select All and in Mac CMD + A
And Then Delete

Lolx, kinda sounds funny but for me, when i am stuck lets say half way down a problem, i just trash the code aside for reference, and then restart the whole process from the very base and to my amaze it is always some step i might have missed that solves in the problem, this thing also worked with hardware aswell.

Keep up the good contributions. Your ideas generate more ideas for me to write on as well.



Adding to this. I usually use one of the below;

Walk away - if you're a perfectionist,the best thing you can do is to abandon ship, totally let go, don't worry, your hyperactive brain will work tirelessly in the background and bubble up the solution.

Read a good novel - most devs and software oriented peeps only read documentation and tutorials! Seriously! find books to read that have nothing to do with whatever you are currently working on. I recommend the Hitch hiker's guide to the Galaxy (I read it every year).


Perfectionist here 😭. The problem with this is that no software is perfect and perfectionism is impossible to achieve, at least from your own highly subjective perspective. In the end, it all becomes a wild and annoying snark hunt.


I can second all of these!

So I really think it is better to try and deal with frustration than try not to be.

Too true. As I mentioned in my other comment, frustration helps the experience and resulting knowledge stick in my memory.


Cannot emphasize enough how important is to take breaks especially after being frustrated when something doesn't work.

Coming in with a fresh mind the next day might be all you need.


I totally agree and unless you learn how to detach yourself from the problem at hand, you'll get caught up in an infinite stress loop that sometimes culminates in performing the following:

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