Don't Jump

Step Back, Take a Breath, Try Later

February 01, 2020 | 1 Minute Read

This happens to me way more than I’d like to admit and I’m hoping that by writing it down here I will learn from my mistakes. Maybe you’re making this mistake and could learn as well, please don’t tell me I’m the only one doing this!?

So it goes something like this;

  • Start a task.
  • Struggle for a while.
  • Get tired.
  • Don’t stop, just push through, you HAVE TO finish this tonight!
  • Get more tired.
  • Struggle more.
  • Eventually, you give up, you hear the birds chirping outside.
  • Go to bed, get what little sleep you can still get.
  • Wake up and have another go at the problem.
  • 5 minutes later, problem solved.

Where’s the problem?

It occurs to me that I was just too tired to think up and implement the solution. Soon as I get the sleep my brain needs to function, the solution seems to come quickly. This has happened to me more than I’d be comfortable admitting. Instead of losing all those hours, time to read, or do a hobby or get that needed sleep was wasted staring at a monitor, stuck in a “solution” rut. All I needed to do was step back, take a breath, try again later. If that later happens to be the next day then it happens the next day.

I have this bad habit of not being able to leave a task that I’m struggling with. I have to win, I have to beat it. There is no surrender, well none until I just cannot keep my eyes open anymore.

So what now?

Well now… I take a step back, breathe and come back later. There is a lot on my plate as well, there are always smaller simple tasks I can do to distract me from the difficult exciting one holding me back. Something to clear the mind before I take another stab at it. If it’s late, that task is to sleep.

Here is some more interesting reading on sleep and problem-solving, especially if they’re difficult problems.