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What do you do when you have a programming block or lack of inspiration or become side tracked by wasteful internet browsing?
Walk away from the computer. Do something like fishing, shooting, woodworking, or bicycle riding. If you just stay at the computer, you will not get much accomplished. Your mind craves non-computer stuff, and to be healthy you need to give it what it needs.
'Programming Block 1':
Usually caused by lack of understanding of the intent or aim of the code is, usually due to poor planning. Here I go back to the user and ask myself 'what does the user want it to do?'. Write down the user experience. Choose which actions you should implement now and which to do later. Write down the pseudo code of how to achieve it, get back to programming.

'Programming Block 2':
Cannot see how to achieve something. Cannot decide on the best path/route. The answer here, assuming you are not part of a team (where the answer is talk to someone), is to 'ask the fool'. Explain it to a child, a non-programmer or the barman. In the process of explaining the problem an answer normally presents itslef.

'Programming Block 3':
Sleep on it. Try to go to sleep with it on your mind. I know it sounds like i'm a weirdo here, but it is amazing what you brain does when it is sleeping. It will churn the ideas around, mix them up with no rules at all, it will connect ideas that are completely unrelated and quite often you will wake up and think, 'ah, I have a great idea about how to do that..'.

Lack of Inspiration and Side tracked:
Presuming these are basically the same thing, it is due to boredom. Agree with What Skunkbad said, but more generally get away from screens (including TV) and get some exercise, get the blood moving, be physical, even if that is just going for a walk to the shops.

Step 1: Take a look at what others have already done. Step 2: Take a look how analogous problems are solved by engineers or nature. Step 3: Create a powerful analogy and solve that first. If my problem were a sandwich, the problem is that the butter is melting and dripping. So how would I solve that.... If my problem was a city design, the problem is the waste disposal is beside the housing sector. How do I solve that etc.

Hope that helps,


PS Good question though.
Good ideas guys, I think all of us are somewhat guilty of spending even our free time on computer related stuff which probably isn't so good. I plan to gym it more for next year.