Dealing with Frustration

My journey with coding has been filled with episodes of frustration. When something doesn’t make sense, either a concept I’m trying to grasp or I made changes to the code and now nothing my layout is broken. I call them growing pains. When you’re at those points where you may want to delete everything and start over (which I have) or step away for a minute and clear your head, the joy when you’ve figured it out sure keeps pulling me back in. Frustration has been a part of my process and I have been working on how to deal with those friction moments and turn them into an opportunity to learn and teach myself. Here are some tips on how I’ve dealt with moments of frustration.

Take a minute and clear your head

When you’re at the brink of losing it, take a moment away from the screen and recharge that mental battery. Problem solving takes a lot of work and can be very draining. Taking a short break either to eat a snack or going for a walk. However much time you need with the full intention of going back and tackling it head on refreshed. There are many studying methods such as the Pomadora method that suggest you work undistracted for 25 minutes and then you take a 5 minute break. People claim it avoids burnout, helps manage distractions, and increases productivity. You can adjust the time to what best suits you but I think an hour or two before your break is best for programmers. Sometimes you just got to sit with that problem.

Plan, plan, plan

Something that really helped me with my development has been to plan out what I’m going to make before I start typing code into the editor. Jot down some ideas, mental map the project, and build a sketch of what you’re going to build. Using paint or sketch or maybe even writing down on a notebook could help you make that project easier to manage. So plan ahead, make your life easier and avoid aimlessly puting code up hoping it’ll work.

Read the documentation

When you’re stuck, don’t be a hero… read the documentation. It still sounds like gibberish but I’m becoming much more comfortable with jargon the more I read it. The devils in the details and sometimes when you’re trying to implement a style or feature and it doesn’t work, you probably missed something. Save your time and frustration and do your research on the concepts. I found that I rarely find the exact answer I need but can find the solutions on sites like MDN, W3, W3C and if you’re feeling lucky try stack overflow. Look for understanding and not quick fixes.

We all get frustrated, I think it shows you care about the work you’re trying to push out. Take those moments and transform it into a learning experience.