Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Ask HN: My brain refuses to think, what should I do?
247 points by DeusExMachina 1950 days ago | 147 comments
I have a problem I've been experiencing for some time now. I hope someone experienced something similar and has some good advice.

I've come to a point where it's really hard to do even the easiest work. Each time I sit to code and I face the slightest "problem", I start looking for a distraction as soon as possible. I realized it today when I had to write one line of code to calculate the scale of an image.

It was really a trivial problem, I just need to figure out a couple of measures to put into a division, but since it requires 30 seconds of thinking, my brain guides my hand to the nearest distraction (i.e. the facebook/email/HN). I really have to struggle to do some work (as a side note this goes away a little when I manage to begin working, but the danger always lurks waiting for some more difficult task to distract me from).

It's not a lack of motivation. This is a project I want to work on and when I'm not at my computer I think about how to code it and I just wait to have some time to work on it. I feel motivated thinking how cool it will be and really want to do it. But as soon as I have time, like in weekends, I start wasting it in useless activities. When I force myself to sit and code, my mind surrenders at the smallest obstacle.

It looks like my brain is not used to think anymore. I can spend time reading a lot of things, but as soon as I try to actively do something, my mind refuses to do it. I think I have some sort of addiction/disorder and I can look for psychotherapy, but I wan to know if there are easier and cheaper remedies. Any advice?

Questions that might illuminate if there's a problem -

When's the last time you went for a walk?

When's the last time you were in nature for a while?

When's the last time you spent a day absolutely, completely relaxing?

How's your diet?

How's your sleep?

How's your sleep schedule?

When's the last time you had a vacation?

How much inspirational media have you been through in the last week - books, movies, audio, whatever.

When's the last time you hung out around or talked on the phone with someone really inspirational?

Beyond that - changing environment can bring you out of a funk, bringing a laptop to a cafe with no internet can be a great option if you can do some work offline.


"Beyond that - changing environment can bring you out of a funk, bringing a laptop to a cafe with no internet can be a great option if you can do some work offline."

Even the best entrepreneurs have a really hard time focusing because they have so many different kinds of tasks that they can never really get into a flow state. Trying to do work as an entrepreneur while having access to the Internet is like trying to study for finals in a crack house.


I've always said that staying focused while doing web development is like staying thin while working in a candy store.


You are right, internet is a huge time sink. On the opposite site sometimes I need to look for something and if in that moment I do not have a connection, I use it as an excuse to stop working and procrastinate.


Yeah, your defiantly going to need a lot of resources handy to work off-line and even then you probably hit something that you need to lookup online.

I can see that given the right task though it would be beneficial, the slightly slower working pace by lack of resources could be made up by the concentration you get.

It works for me studying for exams when I can have all the course content in front of me, even then though I end up finding something interesting that I want to look up in lecture notes or something that makes no sense so I need to search for a better explanation online.


The last sentence of your comment is genius. True. True. True.


This helps a lot. For lot of things (a walk, nature, relax, vacations) it was really long time ago. My diet is quite good, I think, but the sleep schedule needs a little fix.

I lacked inspirational media in the recent period and I just talk with friends, but no one is really an authority in this field.

For the environment I'm looking at the library, and the last time I visited it I managed to do something (but then I needed to look for something on the internet and I did not have a connection, so my mind switched to another mode: find an excuse to procrastinate it).


Alright, it's going to be fairly easy to pull out of things then - bring some positive fundamentals into your life. Go for a walk for 15 minutes, go to some nature if you're in a rural area or a park or university campus if you're in a city and just sit there a while, or go sit by a river, or lake, or harbor. A vacation would help if you can get away, even for a couple days. Some people can handle screwy sleep schedules, some can't. Etc. Try to integrate one or two positive things the next day or two - you're obviously looking for a solution so you're geared up, just go take a walk before you sit down at your computer today or tomorrow. Short walk around the neighborhood will do, and you'll probably have some clear thoughts. Remember - when you're in a hole, fundamentals are almost always the way out. Walk, nature, sleep, diet, relax, environment - things like that. Good luck, I was there a while back and it sucks, but you'll pull out of it if you focus on fundamentals.


Good list as answer to typical burnout syndrome. That cafe tip is a favorite.

Some specific experiences from me and others:

  - Are there season differences? Consider SAD.
  - Check for infection.
  - Test  for deficiencies (like iron, etc.)
  - Try meditation (there are non-religious variants).


I was already thinking about meditation, since it helps with focus that is what I'm lacking now.

I will check also other things.


I was already thinking about meditation, since it help with focus that is what I'm lacking now.

I will check also other things.


I suffer from the exact same thing from time to time and I've learned to resort to lists when I am like that.

Anything I need to do goes on a list and I reward myself with some kind of distraction only after any item on the list gets completed.

Usually it's a sign that my mental batteries are running low or even past empty but some stuff still needs to get done. I find that after the third or the fourth item from the list gets completed habit takes over and I'm getting 'in to it' more and more and those molehills-turned-mountains disappear with greater ease.

Good luck combating this, it can be a real problem, especially if it persists for a longer time.

I've found that sometimes it is symptomatic of some underlying issue, something else in life that is deadlocked and needs solving first, not sure if that could be the case with you.


Something similar solved the problem for me too. I used to spend most of the day reading HN, reddit and other sites. I even remember a week last year where I sat at work for the required 40 hours and didn't get a single thing done. Now I sometimes close my browser at the end of the day and realise I never got round to looking at the HN tab I opened first thing in the morning. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say I'm at least 10x as productive.

All it took was to start keeping a log book. Any time I get something new to do (e.g. new feature, bug fix), I write it down, prefixed with "TODO" and highlight it to make it easy to spot as I flick through the book looking for unfinished tasks. Any time I solve a problem, I write down what the problem was, why it was happening, and how I solved it.

Having the book next to my keyboard serves as a constant reminder of what I should be working on, and that really helps to focus whenever I get the temptation to open my browser and get distracted. Keeping a record of how I solve problems always has a chance of being useful in the future, but it's incredibly rewarding (and therefore motivating) to see the pages fill up each day. It's just a nice, quick visual indicator of progress.


Lists are key. A simple text file labeled todos.txt sits in my dropbox and I have it set to open with a hot key (quicksilver, osx). I tried all types of apps for todos/project management, but the simplest is the best, for me.


I prefer using a physical notepad for my list. I really like being able to physically cross out items after I have completed them.


Good point about underlying issues. Each morning, if I feel distracted; at the bottom of my todo list I make a list of "Bothers". Things that are taking mental energy. I just list them and that seems to help focus. They can be big issues or small, from "where to get haircut" to "where was she last night?"


Have you ever experienced your list becomes bloated with items? Then you spend your time prioritizing and reprioritizing the items?

When that happens to me, I just pick one item and forget the rest of the list.


Yes, that also happens from time to time. But I don't spend a lot of time on prioritising stuff at all, I just take the top item on the list and get it over with :)


Take this seriously. Very seriously. What you're describing may be no more than acute stress, something that can be fixed with a proper vacation (as in "completely vacate your life" -- go on a camping trip, visit an ashram or monastery, spend some time wwoofing) and a subsequent lifestyle change to allow for periods of relaxation and enjoyment during your normal routine. Or it may be something much bigger.

As a sober alcoholic (25 years), I can tell you from my experience that the number of people who say "I think I may be addicted" without actually having a problem is statistically insignificant. Not that you necessarily have an addiction as such, but that you probably sense that you're using (whatever) in a different way than you once did. In other words, you're self-medicating -- and you want to address what it is that you're medicating. Again, that may be acute stress, and a quick fix may do the trick. ("Mental illness" includes things like acute stress, depression, anxiety and so forth, so even if you aren't heading for major psychosis, the feeling that you're going crazy is more than just a feeling. And it's a positive feedback loop -- anxiety about your anxiety is crazy-making.) If you've stepped over the line into real dependency, then it'll take a little more work, and there are a lot of solutions out there. The alternative to getting help is exemplified in the gutters and alleyways of any major city.

On the other hand, medicating aside, you are also describing what I went through during the early onset phase of Lewy Body Dementia about five or six years ago. Not fixable, not fun, a bugger to diagnose, but its progress can be slowed. I ignored the symptoms for long enough (there was always a reasonable explanation) that I now walk around like a late-stage Parkinson's sufferer, get lost on familiar streets, forget the names of the people closest to me, and soil my trousers from time to time despite receiving the best possible medical care.

Are you taking this seriously yet?


I must admit that your answer is pretty scary. I wasn't taking it seriously till now because I was not totally aware of it. But today I realized how I was behaving, so that's why I wrote it here.

I hope is not LBD, I did some research and I think I'm quite young for that (I'm 30). But the main reason for which I think it's unlikely it's because I get this only when I try to code on my projects. I can get other things done outside of coding and even write code if I'm really compelled (like in my daily job). But when I'm on my own my mind drifts away. I can read books and manuals, even think about solutions for my project, but as soon as I start to code it strikes me (not always, to tell the truth, two weekends ago I got a lot work done, but this is increasing).

I'm going on vacation in 10 days, I will take them very seriously.


Not to downplay the serious symptoms you've described, but that's all a bit dramatic when the guy has described nothing more or less than Slashdot Syndrome.

When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.


Horses' hooves will stomp you dead just as quick if you ignore the sound. The point is: get out of it for a while, since stress is the most probable culprit. If that doesn't do the trick, then look deeper. Don't minimize real symptoms if they persist; they could indicate something really serious. And don't take idiotic advice[1] from random people on the web -- it's far better to spend an unnecessary half-hour with your head stuck in an MRI scanner and feel a bit foolish later than to wait until a real problem becomes irreversible.

[1] "Don't worry, it'll be okay" coming from someone who's never had personal contact with you counts as idiotic advice. If you don't know the before-and-after, if you haven't had a chance to notice other behavioural changes, then even considering an attempt at diagnosis is irresponsible.


... it's far better to spend an unnecessary half-hour with your head stuck in an MRI scanner and feel a bit foolish later than to wait until a real problem becomes irreversible.

Is it? Do you have any idea what MRI sessions cost? Money for risk mitigation is limited, just as it's limited for everything else.


Personally, I have no idea what they cost but I'm interested, for a family member.

So how much is it? Reference?

(We do have a state health system here, but a doctor must send people for testing. It is generally easier to work and pay yourself, despite paying high taxes for other's use of the state health system.)


NPR did a segment on how the price of MRIs varies to a crazy extent, because no one knows what they ought to cost:


They followed it up with some comparisons to Japan:



The place I usually go for my MRIs bills $1600 for an MRI of the L-spine with contrast (this is Phoenix, AZ, USA). The only other place I am aware of cost wise is a local hospital that performed a full central nervous system MRI with contrast for $7000. All of the other MRIs I've had were either inpatient or wrapped into the cost of a larger treatment plan so I do not know of the cost.


Thats a rather Eurocentric viewpoint. A good portion of the world may be closer to a zebra than a horse at any given moment.


This exact thing started happening to me more and more frequently when I hit age 30. I tried all the standard remedies: psychological tricks, pomodoro techniques, vacations, exercise, reducing stimulants, increasing stimulants, blocking the internet, and so forth. However, in late 2008 I faced up to the fact that I simply do not care as much about programming as I once did. I also did some soul searching and realized that perhaps I never really "liked" programming. My relationship to programming has been more like an obsession or compulsion than someone pursuing a passion.

My solution is that I set a hard deadline of my 35th birthday to leave the field. I took a much higher paying programming job in the financial sector at the beginning of 2009, and moved in with roommates for the first time in 15 years, to save as much money as possible. I am lucky in that I have other talents to explore, and friends and relatives with unrelated businesses where I can always get a job in a pinch.

This might not be the right way for anyone else. However, I thought that since your symptoms are exactly the same as mine, I should share. I wish I would have figured this out for myself years sooner, as I could have saved myself a lot of frustration and unhappiness. Good luck.


I have similar issues at times. One cause (for me, at least) might be anxiety -- if you are very worried about a failure or have had negative experiences with evaluation of your work, it can carry over into small tasks. Our brains can be pretty clever about avoiding stressors. Bringing your work with you at all times (e.g. always thinking about some problem) doesn't help.

Some suggestions that sometimes work for me:

Get enough sleep (though, sometimes I find that lack of sleep, to a point, can help with focus, especially if paired with loud music).

Cut down on the caffeine.

Segment your time. Specifically allocate blocks of time to do something totally unrelated to work (see a movie, read some mindless fiction, whatever you like to do for fun). Make an effort not to think about your work projects during those periods.

Exercise and/or meditate.

Train yourself to be mindful of what you are doing, so that you catch yourself when you switch from work to some distracter.

When you sit down to work, use a timer to set how long (at a minimum) you will stay on task. When you feel yourself starting to drift during that time, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing for a minute or so, then back to work.

If all else fails, you can try psychotherapy, but shop around for a therapist who specializes in this sort of disorder (adult ADHD would be one way to classify it). The person you visit will probably try to prescribe some drug as treatment. From my experience (long ago), Ritalin really really worked as a focus-enhancer -- perhaps too well, in some ways -- though the side-effects were unpleasant enough not to want to use it for very long periods.


Marijuana + Exercise.


I was having exactly the same issues recently, mostly the result of burning out in a giant flame from my last gig. MJ and getting off my mildly chubby ass were huge boons to productivity.

YMMV, but it's worth a shot. I'd go for something a long the lines of Sour Diesel or BC Blueberry are strains I've found to really increase concentration and focus without making one lazy or sleepy.


I'm kind of upset at the ease with which the use of Marijuana is advocated here for just about every disorder that people might suffer from.

For one it is possibly an illegal substance, second, it affects your brain in ways that would require a lot of research before you commit to it, after all, a programmers most critical resource is their brain.

Now, I know some people that function very well in spite of using significant amounts of pot, but I also know a much larger number of people that managed to turn a mediocre career in to a non-existant one because of their use of pot.

If you want to advocate the use of drugs I really don't think HN is the place to do it, if only because it is not exactly legal in most places, but most of all because you are possibly sending someone from the frying pan in to the fire and you won't be around to pick up the pieces should it go wrong.


A whole younger generation in America seems to be more into Marijuana, and they don't see it as wrong. And these are usually middle class kids. That is probably why a lot of people here seem to be really casual about it. And now let the down voting begin.


This happened before, about 40 years ago. A whole younger generation was into marijuana.

Now they're running the DEA.


That generation was creative, organized, pushed society against a wall and threatened the status-quo. This one just stares at facebook wall and does nothing more than update their status.

And I doubt the hippies actually run the DEA; more like the conservative kids, and the successor Reagan generation that had to be mobilized by mega-churches and shipped on buses from the suburbs, at the expense of the business establishment and old money.


Personally I think that the whole 'war on drugs' thing is just another way for a bunch of people to line their pockets and to increase the US influence in Latin America.

As far as I'm concerned they should legalise Marijuana and every other drug simply to stop filling up prisons with people that need help (if they're addicted to the point where they can't function any longer) not jail, or who simply are not a burden at all and function quite well.

Ironically, legalising drug usage in the Netherlands has created a new kind of problem, drug tourism, where problem cases from other countries congregate in the one safe haven they can find. This in turn is now causing a backlash and may possibly result in the re-criminalisation of drug use here.


Perhaps it is advocated for a lot of disorders because it, well, let me put it this way -- actually helps those disorders? To my knowledge, one of the reasons behind making it illegal was extensive lobbying from drug-corporations who were afraid of an easily-grown, non-addictive fun competitor.

For your second point, yeah, it's probably a good idea to research anything before you ingest/inhale/inject it. High-fructose corn syrup, I'm looking at you :)

Your example doesn't bring anything new to the table. I know people who function well in spite of playing World of Warcraft and I know people who temporarily ruined their lives playing WoW. Was it WoW's fault? Should we make WoW illegal? Should we make everything illegal because it might lead to devastating consequences?

In process of experimentation, I created two rules for myself: a) You can't blame your fuckups on the drug, even if you were under the influence. b) You don't have to mention that drug helped you, if you created something good.


Let's restate those rules of yours:

(1) You cannot blame the drug if something negative happens while you are taking the drug

(2) You can give the drug credit if something positive happens while you are taking the drug

I wonder why you come out with only positive feedback....


>I wonder why you come out with only positive feedback....

It's a mystery to me as well :)

I also like your formulation better. The main point is the first one anyway -- about blaming this or that on "I was drunk/high/whatever".


I'm cool with people using and growing Marijuana for their own private use, it's 100% legal in the country where I live, even if it isn't beneficial to them.

I'm not cool with advocating such on a public forum, and WoW is legal everywhere Marijuana is not.

What people do in the privacy of their own homes is their business entirely, but I don't think it's ok to start advocating illegal stuff just because it is either legal where you do it or because you are getting away with it.


So let me get this square:

You shouldn't advocate illegal activity even if the legality of said activity is dubious at best?

The only reason Marijuana is illegal in the United States is due to two things: Hearst Publishing and white people's fear of brown persons.

Hearst wanted to protect their paper based publishing empire, which hemp paper directly challenged. Hearst started an anti-hemp propaganda campaign focused on race to get the ill-educated white folks to jump on board.

So to be clear, it's not illegal because it's dangerous to your health, it's illegal because it was dangerous to the paper publishing empires of yore.

And for every supposed negative health consequence, mental or otherwise, I will give you ten fold citations that state the opposite. Marijuana is very well studied, it's efficacy for a variety of things are very well documented.

So I have no problem advocating it in any forum whatsoever.


The problem isn't whether or not it should be illegal... It's that it is actually illegal. Not just jaywalking illegal, it's possibly go to jail illegal. Some places don't really care, or it is quasi legal, but some places still care.

When I was younger, I lived in a place that cared, and a friend of mine got busted, and was poor and didn't have a lawyer who could just get him a good deal. He didn't have to go to jail, but it remained on his record and he could not go to Canada, or quite a few European countries, it showed up on a background check, limiting his employment opportunities, and so forth.

So even if the law is wrong, the fact is that it's still a crime in many (most?) places in the US to possess and use MJ, and getting caught could have a real, negative effect on your life.


What you want is find out how marijuana works before trying it. Essentially, there are two mainly psychoactive chemicals in a cannabis plant: THC and CBD, each one is more prevalent in sativa and indica strains respectively. THC improves concentration, helps in imagining the problem, and is a hallucinogen (think towards LSD from sober). CBD gives you a couch-lock, makes you sleepy and is a sedative (think towards Xanax).

Sativa-dominant strains will have more THC than CBD and thus help you with your problems immediately.

Also beware that THC is a mild psychedelic so all the "set and setting" rules apply.


For me Hash+coding is great (relaxed energy), but Weed+coding = miserable failure (attention span = gone). Coding on Sour Diesel, my hat is off to you!

Although I am a big fan of better living through chemistry ( low dose 2c-i & aniracetam), here are some reliable non-drug suggestions for the OP:

1. Change your location. I get easily distracted and waste time at home, but am super vigilant if coding at coffee shops even though there are technically more people talking and more distractions. Physically go somewhere to work where you arent used to procrastinating and train your brain to associate that place with getting work done. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Context-dependent_memory

2. Turn your internet off. Most laptops have a physical switch to turn your wireless on and off quickly. If the internet is your primary distraction, simply turn it off when you aren't researching or deploying.

3) Organization: Here are some ideas: use timers on your computer such as WorkRave, make lists in a pocket notebook, talk to yourself or record audionotes, express the intention for your next actions in language by writing or talking somehow. Minimalize your desktop and browser home page as much as possible, so you start of by doing what you want not whats in front of you.

Psychotherapy is great for reducing the misery of the severely depressed people, but it won't help you with general 'distractability'. That's a learned behavior you can only override with practice.


+1 agree, with caveats. exercise definitely. MJ isn't for everyone, I'd expand the prescription to doing something that allows your mind to wander. You get this anyway with any sort of solo endurance exercise.

MJ definitely helped me get through some tough classes in college, though I treated it like dessert: I'd do focused, clear-headed studying first, then come back a day later, smoke a bowl and kind of let my mind wander all over the material. Not sure whether the altered state itself helped, or if it merely acted as the proverbial spoon full of sugar to get me to study more. Whatever the mechanism, I felt it was a boon. YMMV of course.


Pot can have a positive effect, but you can get a step or three closer to the root of the problem by supplementing amino acids.

A relative who's an engineer has had a great experience with it via the book The Mood Cure, which is a self-help approach that helps you figure out which of four types of amino acids you're short of. He gave us a copy and I needed all four (other members of my family needed between one and four). This is my first workday on amino acid supplements and it's going way, way better than has been the case recently (I'm on HN voluntarily instead of automatically).

The book details ways that marijuana and other drugs (both uppers and downers) work on the mental balance, and explains why and how amino acids are an improvement. Lots of specifics on that topic -- the author certainly agrees that drugs are helping people.

Diet and liver health are another level down and VERY important to get in line, but amino supplements can get you where you want to be in minutes while you work on fixing the root cause gradually.

On another front, RescueTime has a "Get Focused" mode that works great.


I've found that I can have a lot of patience and interest in mental work while stoned, but I forget a lot of it after it's done. Weed is a mild amnesiac, and for someone with otherwise very good memory, this is noticeable. This may be great if you're doing something soul-crushingly boring, but a better strategy is to avoid that sort of work to begin with.

IANAN, but I suspect that in your case, weed is helping because of its indirect action on the opioid system, and despite, rather than because of, the characteristically "weedy" effects. Have you self-medicated with any other euphoriants?


I have the same issue, but instead I just blocked all sources of distraction and replaced them with a message reminding me to focus.


Maybe marijuana is good for relaxation and taking off stress, but it's damn bad for concentration, so I wouldn't recommend it on regular basis ;). Exercise however will definitely help.


Also, try coding while high. I find it does not really diminish my IQ, it just changes the how I think. Basically, my thinking becomes more tangential, so I'm able to explore scenarios with depth. It also relaxes me and helps me to let go of certain notions create boundaries to coming up with different solutions.

Usually, when encountering such a problem, I will pace around the house exploring the line of thought.

Of course, focus can be a problem, so it's not exactly something that should be done all of the time. However, there are things that can help you to stay on task, such as having the code you are working on open.

Of course, YMMV.


"Does not really diminish my IQ"

You remind me of a TV program where they did a study how drinking affect driving. The test subjects would swear that they drive even better when drunk. They got them drunk, put them behind the wheel, and it was horrible. They completely suck. How do you know is not the same thing with you. We would need to do an experiment to verify your claims.


It surely lowers you IQ, although it still may still be a net positive. Many brilliant people are also anxious, and can't get things done because of it. If marijuana helps you relax enough to focus, this is a win. I don't smoke, and I've hardly done any sorts of drugs at all ever actually, but I kind of get the appeal when I take Benadryl (I know it's weird), because the tiredness relaxes me and I stop worrying about a lot of peripheral problems.


> It surely lowers you IQ, although it still may still be a net positive. Many brilliant people are also anxious, and can't get things done because of it. If marijuana helps you relax enough to focus, this is a win.

You hit the trade-off nail on the head. Thank you.

For me, this is especially true when putting in extra hours at home.



I tried to find a non-druglibrary.org link to this study, but wasn't able to find freely available .gov links for it.


I don't advocate driving while stoned.


> "Does not really diminish my IQ"

Sorry, I meant it does not significantly diminish my IQ.

> How do you know is not the same thing with you.

First, I did not say I'm smarter when high. There was a study that shows that there is a small drop (~ 4 points) http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/04/22/text.iq/.

I also see my work when I am sober and it's fine.

The question is what needs to be optimized. At times (not all the time IMO and certainly not in the office), the benefit of exploring new options and increasing motivation of the task outweighs the slight drop in IQ.

> The test subjects would swear that they drive even better when drunk.

I did not swear I code better either. I take a different approach to solve the problem at hand, which leads to better results due to diversity in the problem solving process. I code sober much more often than when high. My code is also peer reviewed. It seems to work out just fine.

Sometimes you just have to loosen up. However you want to do that is up to you, as long as you use proper discretion if it is a controversial approach...


> We would need to do an experiment to verify your claims.

Unfortunately, software development productivity (and solution quality) is notoriously difficult to measure and perform experiments on. It is also expensive, time-consuming, and their conclusions tend to be shaky at best. The experiments' applicability is also heavily influenced by the uniqueness of each individual person.

Technology just moves too fast. I'm afraid anecdotal evidence is probably the best we usually can do when talking about how we work.


Marijuthingy? But this is why God invented Adderall!


I think you are exhausted and bored. Other people has told you what to do: force yourself to relax, to take vacations or take a break, sleep well, eat well, and exercise.

Read "The power of full engagement" Tony Swartz's. It has a very useful video on youtube.

Force yourself to use facebook or read hackernews ONLY when you had finished your work(evening-night), never when you start it(morning). Your short memory is clean after sleeping(it gets backed up in medium and long memory), and you don't want to fill it with pasive stuff but with active info. Creating something(code, making things, writing a book...) takes way more resources than consuming something(reading code, using things, reading a book or what someone has updated on facebook). You should do what is harder first.

Your work environment should be at the right temperature, if it is too hot(now the north hemisphere), your brain shuts down(so you don't generate more heat), if too cold your body wants to move(not good for programming).

Maybe you are in love, who knows.

Don't worry too much, it's normal, the only problem you face is to know consciously what your mind knows unconsciously as the origin of the problem. Once you know, it will be easy to solve.



Download the documentation that you need for offline use. Yank the Ethernet cord. No Hacker News, Reddit, GMail, Facebook. If you need anything from the net, connect and yank the cord ASAP. Make it a ritual. I think we are getting addicted to the drugs similar to what we are trying to synthesize. Do tell me if it works for you.


Well, then not do anything. Lay in your bed, watch shitty sitcoms, eat food, just don't do anything. It will feel unusual if you've been working for a long uninterrupted time but you need time to rest.

You remind me of a runner who just ran 10mi and is asking: "Hey, I feel tired, why is that? It seems like my legs don't really feel like moving. What should I do? Drugs? Doctors? Am I addicted to something?"

Go and rest for brain's sake. In fact, I've been doing this all Sunday -- I'm laying in my bed with a laptop, looking at the cars outside, and watching crappy sitcoms. I am forcing this lazy behavior so I can recover and have fun working tomorrow.


You're burnt out, it happens, more so in the thinking oriented fields. As some of the other comments mentioned, you need a break.

Fortunately my gf forces me to take time away from work, otherwise I would be burnt out half the year.


That's the second time in a few weeks this comes up on HN, if you 'need a break' you are not burned out (yet).

Burn-out is not something you're going to solve with a break or a change of scene for a few weeks, but is a pretty serious state of mind that will probably affect your life for many years and will leave lasting scars for the remainder of it.


Can you elaborate? What do you mean by “burn-out”?


It's not just what I mean by burn-out, but more about what the accepted meaning of the term is:


Edit: Thanks for the downmod, that article has a very thorough description of what burn-out really is and goes in to a lot more detail than I ever could in a comment here. If you think that linking to a wikipedia article instead of writing an essay sized entry is bad form you're more than welcome to enlighten me as to the proper procedure.


I didn’t downvote you, but the OP’s comment doesn’t seem to me to reflect “burnout” as it is described in that Wikipedia article (e.g. the Tracy quotation “burnout is largely an organizational issue caused by long hours, little down time, and continual peer, customer, and superior surveillance”). Then again, I’m still not sure I understand either a formal technical definition, or quite what people generally mean when using the term colloquially. Seems like a broadly and fuzzily defined term.


Yes, that was exactly my point. Burn-out is a (very) serious condition that can have many consequences, including depression.

To say 'you're burned-out' and to say that 'you need a break' combined with the statement that his gf keeps him from being burned-out half the year indicates a use of the term burn-out that does a dis-service to both those that are really burned out (because someone might read this and think that his friend that is really burned out needs a break whereas in fact what he needs is a radical change of career path or professional help to avoid worse) and to those that will pick this up and think that they are burned out, when in fact all they need is a break or a change of scene.

To me the OP does not sound burned out but has reached a phase in his work where the normal tricks of the trade aren't enough to put him back on a productive path.

Compare that with the symptoms listed for burn-out in the wp article and see if you can match them up, it's a lot less fuzzy than you imply and from what I know about the subject once you are burned out you are not going to cure it easily and permanently.


There's nothing I said that conflicts with the Wikipedia article. As someone that has seen a medical professional related to burning out, I can say with confidence that some R&R coupled with a change of pace, and focus can be very helpful in shortening or delaying burn out.

Next time I'll make sure to include elaboration, just in case someone misinterprets my brief statements with an official definition.


Sitting next to another person while I tried to write my rationality book increased my productivity by at least 400%.


Sleep on time .. atleast 7 hours of sleep.

Exercise ... Either early morning or early evening. To quote Frank Costanza, I feel vigorous after working out.

Try to use natural light vs. Artificial light.

Meditate. If you're losing focus, switch off the lights, lower the blinds and look at the flame of a burning candle for a few minutes and try to keep a blank mind. Haven't done this for a while but did help me reduce stress.


You have this problem: http://xkcd.com/477/

I know I have it sometimes. I think sometimes we just get in this bad habit of letting our mind escape to easier things. I'd say just redirect that traffic, turn off the internet or something and just force yourself back into a working habit.



Worked wonders for me.


Thanks for the link. I do a less formal version of this sometimes. If I've got so much to do that I can't do anything, I make a list of everything then start doing as little as 30 seconds on each thing and cycle through them till something gets traction.


works for me too. Especially useful the pomodoro log: you can see instantly what you did during the day. If you are supposed to work and you only accomplish 3 pomodori today, that will convince you to achieve more tomorrow.


I love this. Finally, a use for my alarm clock.


Try writing your code by hand for the next two hours.


The same thing is happening to me. It is the Reddit disease and I have it big time. Read 'Is Google Making us Stupid' (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-googl...) for some good perspective.

Essentially, the human brain will adapt to the environmental situations it finds itself in. They find cab drivers (obviously) have more highly developed spatial recognition than the rest of us, for instance.

In my case, for about 2 years I have been doing most of my reading on Reddit. Most articles were small - 30 seconds to a minute of reading at most. Then I would swing to another. As such, my brain structure has adapted to this situation, but it is terribly ineffective at tackling tasks which require constant attention (my essay marks have been steadily going down).

So I've decided to go into rehab. Taking a holiday in mid-August for about 3 months, and I have bought/downloaded a huge amount of very very heady reading material (including the crem-da-la-crem of heady mind fuck material - Heidegger's Being and Time) which I intend to use to rewire my brain.


I really want to know... what else is on this reading list?


You need a vacation, and you need to cancel a huge number of things in your life that you "need to do".


Smoke weed. Or, if you've been smoking weed, don't smoke weed.


I went through this for a few weeks before I realized the cause. For me it was social media and news sites -- especially FB, twitter, mashable, reddit, and to some extent HN. These sites are carefully designed to make you ADD, so that you keep coming back for more, like a drug addiction. Call me cynical but basically, they are machines designed to numb and enslave the masses (possibly excluding HN).

If you are spending more than 5-10 mins/day on these sites, IMO it's a problem -- that is time you could be using to create something, rather than consuming meaningless social media updates from people you probably don't really care about. It's sad to see that even very talented developers, scientists, and otherwise-rational people are geting sucked into this bullshit.

Join a gym, hang out with friends IRL, travel -- basically, go offline for a while until you find your center again.

I realize the irony of posting this as an HN comment. But at least I'm on my way to the gym.


Here's yet another idea:

Your mind and body need to be in balance. I believe this is the essence of the solution.

One factor that I believe is amiss is their speed. It appears that your mind is thinking quicker than your body is acting, and this is causing your discomfort.

There are of course two remedies, and they can both be administered:

1. Speed up your body.

As many here have suggested, anything that increases what you do will be a good thing. Exercise, work, chores, personal errands, etc.

2. Slow down your mind.

Realise that your body is not functioning at the speed that your mind thinks and simply accept it. Your mind will naturally slow down and you will begin to appreciate your task, the present moment, and your life. This will release your body from the paralysis as it now becomes possible, and even enjoyable, to do that which your mind is currently thinking.


Go for a long walk in the park. Stop coding for a few days. Isolate yourself from tech in general for a while. Let yourself reset.


From time to time I suffer the same issue. I look back hours later and get angry at myself for 'wasting' so much time. There are a few things you can do to help you out that others have mentioned. However this works for me the best:

I edit my hosts file (Windows: /Windows/System32/drivers/etc/hosts, Mac: /etc/hosts) to look something similar to: news.ycombinator.com techcrunch.com www.techcrunch.com reddit.com www.reddit.com


Alternatively you can use other tools to block traffic. RescueTime (http://www.rescuetime.com/)is an awesome tool as well.


I wrote a small PHP command-line tool for turning on/off these host file entries. It's fairly simple, but I've found it to be extremely useful in killing off stray checks of favorite websites, which inevitably end in larger blocks of misspent time. http://github.com/killsaw/Timeguard


Make it a command line utility only for turning those entries on, but make it as hard as it could be to remove them again.


I considered this while writing it, but figured there's a fine line one must walk with a utility like this. If it's too annoying to disable, you won't use it.

Typically once I flip it on, I forget about it, until I actually try to check a site that's been blocked. I find that being unable to load a site or loading a local webserver hosted file injects just enough time to realize I should be doing something else.

Previously I wasn't in the "trick yourself" camp, but having used this for a while, I definitely am. Used in conjunction with the Pomodoro Technique, it's a really solid way to keep oneself on track.


I have to mention Leechblock again, a firefox plugin that lets you customize times/days that you can (or can not) view certain webpages. Great for keeping yourself from surfing when you come home from work but letting you surf on a lazy saturday morning. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4476/


I'm guessing that this is not a disorder, because if it is, then we all have it.

Every programmer has trouble sitting down to code at certain times.

You say that when you are not at your computer you think about how to code it. Why not keep a paper notebook with you and write down how you think you are going to code it? Or keep a laptop with you and boot it up and start coding when you get excited thinking about it?

Later on, when you want to jump start your programming process, read through the notebook and let yourself get into the mental state you were in when you were excited about it. (Also, unplug the internet).

In my experience, coding isn't as easy as 'making' yourself code (unless you are typing boilerplate or doing copy/paste coding).

You have to either take advantage of the times that you are excited and want to code, or you have to coax yourself into that mental state.

It is just like creative writing. Most good writers do not sit at a desk with a blank piece of paper and just start writing. They make notebooks and journals and they write down ideas as they come. Later when they do have to write, they have all of these cues to start the creative process.

For me, at least, this is roughly equivalent to "writer's block," so you may want to read some literature on that.

(first off of google: http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/block.html)


Just wanted to add one more voice to the "how's your sleep?" chorus. Sleep is so important to being able to focus.

One thing to check if you think you're putting in enough sleep time but are still groggy and have focus issues, is that you may potentially have obstructive sleep apnea. Have you been told you snore? Do you have a thick neck (17'' or larger dress shirt size)?

From personal experience, getting a real you full night's sleep makes a huge difference in ability to focus and get work done.


I feel like this almost everyday and my girl friend tells me snore terribly. I also fit the thick neck description. Where do you get something checked out like this cheaply?


Cheaply? It all depends on your medical insurance situation. A full-on sleep study is a big deal, a full night in a (cozy) hospital room, hooked up to wires monitoring brain activity, oxygen saturation, etc.

What I did was describe my symptoms to my family doc, and he referred me to a sleep medicine specialist. That's what I would suggest you do.

If you happen to be in the Seattle area, the sleep medicine folks at Swedish are great.


I'm guessing you are working LOTS of hours. This adds up when thinking is involved in your work[like with programming]. You are most definitely bured out. I'm almost certain. What you've described is a pretty decent description. Being burnt out is a very strange thing. Even though it may not sound quite right... trust me, that is the case... this is the best description of what is going on with your brain- as others have pointed out. It's strange that the term "burned out" is used so widely- yet most people don't recognize what it is or what it's like to experience being burned out. Even first hand (obviously) people most likely may not be able to recognize what exactly is going on.. may take a few weeks or so to realize something is really really wrong and depression could even start to set in at that point if you don't catch it quickly. B-complex vitamins and fish oils can help repair your brain from this type of subconscious distress... BUT the real answer is like minimum 1 week vacation RIGHT NOW. You may want to change your long term routines as well and just make time for lots of non-computer-related things.


I'll say it: You should do drugs.

You're describing a brain problem. It might be caused by poor diet, sleep, life perspective, etc. But whatever the cause, it's a problem in your brain; and it's probably fixable with drugs.

If you feel you have an ADHD problem (which is what it sounds like), there's a variety of pills that can correct your symptoms. This quiz is fairly accurate in terms of diagnosis (really, self-answered questions are one of the few indicators available to psychs for ADHD): http://psychcentral.com/addquiz.htm

If you think you're too stressed, there's pills for that too.

I've also read that marijuana is helpful (counter-intuitive as it may seem) for reducing both ADHD and anxiety symptoms; so depending on your local laws, you might want to consider that.

My point is that lifestyle improvements are good, and I'd certainly advocate them, but don't rule out the possibility of using chemicals to your advantage. It's 2010 and we have that technology now.


Diagnosing someone over the Internet seems a bit premature.


No diagnosis here, it's just what it sounds like to me. I'd encourage the OP to go see a doctor and consider medication. But it seems silly to me to rule out drugs at all, given how much effort has been put into researching and applying them.


I think this is a very bad advise. Don't use drugs EVER.

Drugs never fix problems. The only hide them. if your body is telling you something, you should fix the root of the problem, not remove the symptoms.

Whatever a drug does(stimulant, depressant...)the body will balance it giving the opposite effect over time(the roller coaster effect).This means instability of everything from mood to chemicals on your blood. Not to mention the body getting used to it, needing each time more and more to cause the same effect and getting addicted.


I think this is a very bad advise. Drugs can sometimes be good.

For the last 3 years (since a long relationship ended) I was in a bad funk, getting very little done and having a baseline that was a bit depressed, with occasional moments of manic happiness/productiveness.

A few months ago, a new friend told me that I just had to try mushrooms. It was a spiritual, life-changing event. I have since done them 3 more times, and LSD once.

Good drugs (and I guess I basically mean psychedelics when I say that) can teach you a different way of thinking, one which you continue long after your use of the drugs. My life is orders of magnitude better than it was six months ago. I'm enjoying the little things, and figuring out how what I'm doing fits into the big picture of how I'd like to live my life.

I really cannot get onboard with the advice to not use drugs "EVER". Even from an anti-drug standpoint, it's very hard to argue against using pain-killing drugs for the week following a surgery. Drugs have their purposes, and as long as you don't let them take over your life, they can be quite positive.


People have been telling me I just have to try alcohol or drugs or smoking for about as long as I can remember, and in spite of the fact that it really seems to be life-changing for them I'm fairly happy with the one I've got and I'd hate to trade with those that are advising me like that.

Pain killing versus drugs in the street sense of the word is a bad comparison, 'drugs' are a tool to be used when needed and appropriate, self medication of hallucinogens or depressants can cause all kinds of problems down the road, especially if your personality is not too disciplined.

Indeed, drugs have their purpose, and to tell a person whose life circumstances are otherwise unknown to start using them is in general as bad an advise as you could possibly give.


Drugs fall into different categories regarding the reason why people use them as well as their effect. Here are some commonly appearing taxons:

(1) Drugs which are used to control a certain set of behavior or cultivate a certain desirable state of mind (caffeine, nicotine). - This group can be addictive not only because of the psychoactive properties of the drug but because the necessary state of mind for some necessary activity (i.e. certain forms of work) is amplified or facilitated by the drug

(2) Drugs which are used to open the mind to various forms of sensation that the mind is not normally able to perceive and/or process. -- Here we are on difficult epistemological ground because, although various religions and practioners attest various common experiences as the result of ingesting various substances (e.g. the merging of consciousness and "mind reading" via peyote) there is little collaborating scientific evidence, in my mind indicating the 'epimaterial' properties of the experience.

(3) Drugs which are used to induce "good feelings" -- this category is esp. prone to serious forms of addiction including absorption in the state of mind cultivated by the drug.

With these categories in mind (albeit suggestive and not definite) can one categorically dismiss drugs? My own answer is no, at the moment I make fairly extensive use of (1) and at various points have branched into (2). That said, I view (1) as undesirable since you are developing dependencies and, ideally, stimulants should be replaced with self-cultivation of the appropriate state of mind. The extent to which this is possible I am not sure, but I recognize that at various points in my life I have been much more productive than I am currently without the use of (1). As for (2) the substances can also be extraordinarily dangerous and in many related religious traditions practice with a more experienced person (usually a shaman of some sort) is mandated because of the potentially live changing nature of the experience (negative or positive, see the Datura stories on Erowid for a poignant example, most of them prompted by Castneda's highlight of Dature in his Don Juan chronicles).

So, as with most other areas of life, the answer is not yes or no, but know yourself and know exactly what you are dealing with.


Most likely you have given your brain the task to do so. You have given your brain the task to care about a lot of things without letting go.

The best things to start with that I know and have done:

1. Make a list of things that cost you energy. Mark the three most importan. Solve them or let them go.

2. Free your brain from your todo list. It has better things to do. Apply the book "Getting things done" to give your brain peace from the things you haven't done yet.

3. Use a countdown timer to work 50 minutes on one task. Make a 10 minutes rest and then do the same thing with a completely different task. What this does to you is NOT to urge you to get something done. What it does is giving you complete freedom not to care about anything else for 50 minutes. (I know a similar method with 25 minutes. I prefer 50. It is no accident that it is exacly half the time. Do 25 or 50 but nothing between.)

Feel free to combine this methods ad lib.

Gerd, brain hacker, hypnotist, NLP master


Welcome to Short Attention Span Theater. You must read email, but write as little as possible. Remove yourself from all email newsletters. Swear off facebook, twitter, HN and all other distractions for at least two weeks. When you discover you didn't actually miss anything, you'll be on the road to recovery.


I have the same problem (exactly) with another problem: If I start coding (or working on some projects of mine) I just don't stop work until something stops me (like dinner, extremely exhausted->sleep, a friend calling for coffee...)

I think the real problem is "How to get into that mode". It's simple:

- Be ready: Sleep well. Eat, Water or Coffee should be near your desk.

- Close all distractions. If you do web development, use another browser to navigate or block websites with rescuetime ;)

- Start with something simple. Much more simpler than coding. A to do list. Don't start with coding it's hard. Start with your to do list and get into the thinking mode that you used to get it when off-computer

- You start thinking, opening folders, testing, write a line of code.... and woups already 5 hours spent and you didn't notice it :)

Hope it's not Dementia, but a check is cheap (whatever it costs)


Maybe you want yourself to be interested in this particular project, but you might really not be interested in it. Sometimes you can't force interest, and it's often tough to focus when you aren't interested. I've felt what you're feeling before. I realized that my problem was that I just was not into the project - I just could not bring myself to focus on coding because I didn't really want to. This is fine though. As an adult, hey, sometimes you don't have to do things you don't want to do. You can have ice cream and beer for dinner; you can pick some other side project, or nothing, to spend your time on.


I've also suffered from the same problem. I'm very interested in my project and motivated to do it but some days I just can't. I've found one thing that can change my day from zero productivity to 100% is a todo list. I just write down on a piece of paper some tasks I want to get done that day and usually I've crossed them all out by lunch time. Of course then you'll procrastinate from writing todo lists but that's another issue.

If you try todo lists, exercise, motivational books, etc. and still can't seem to focus on something you should be able to focus on, go talk to your doctor.


If you use a mac check out http://macfreedom.com/ or http://anti-social.cc/ I use freedom every time I have work in front of me that I want solid time to complete and I can't trust myself not to get distracted down some rabbit hole. It sounds stupid at first but two things it does for you over just unplugging from the network is that 1) you can still communicate with your local network/VPN and 2) you can't get back online without restarting your machine.


From my experience, it means you need a break or a vacation. Get in a totally different environment for a few weeks days and do not bring anything related to work.

If it is not possible at this time, you may buy time using a trick I have used in the past. Dedicate a part of your day to working (ex: afternoon) and dedicate another part of the days to something else entirely and in a different environment (spend the morning playing sport, walking, exploring the neighborhood, anything out of your work environment and off the computer).


I recommend reading the book http://www.amazon.com/Courage-Create-Rollo-May/dp/0393311066

He offers the thesis that creating something new is likely to be fraught with anxiety. Understanding that this is the case may in fact decrease this anxiety. One of the symptoms of this anxiety is an avoidance.

So perhaps think of it this way: as you sit down to do something new, and feel the distraction, this can mean you are getting into the creative mode.


Perhaps you are habituated to the distractions (if so find a way to block them, like killing your router for an hour). Another possibility is you are procrastinating to put off dealing with the stress of success or failure of your project. If you are having general trouble thinking there should be tons of other symptoms (and run don't walk to a doctor). Over all it is up to you to consider some alternatives explanations and come up with a counter strategy.


This usually happens to me when the task at hand is not challenging enough. Try and develop some genuine interest in what you are doing and everything will just flow.


This happens to me when I hit burnout. I've solved it lately by using Toggl (http://toggl.com) to track what time I'm spending where. It's a lot easier to NOT tab over to reddit/HN if I look over and see myself "on the clock" for a given project.

I keep time tracking for time spent on distractions, as well, and after a few days of that number being bigger than I'd like, I started paring it down pretty dramatically.

Hope that helps!


Too much time surfing the web?



Also relevant: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=956493


I see what you did there!


Perhaps do the parts of the task that do not require thinking and that will lead to the thinking part of the process.

Perhaps write out a detailed description of the task (even if its a small task) without a commitment to tackle it. That might concretize it for you.

A recent article on procrastination referenced on HN summarizes the ideal process as thinking in concrete terms to get started and then visualizing the wider ramifications as you are moving forward.


I have had this for quite a while now, and I cant be burnt out or anything because I´m just 16. And its not just on coding, but anything, really. Even gaming.


"I think I have some sort of addiction/disorder and I can look for psychotherapy, but I wan to know if there are easier and cheaper remedies."

I'd highly recommend seeing a doctor of some kind. This isn't necessarily something that's all in your head. What you're describing could be the symptoms of any number of physical or mental disorders, many of which need a doctor's attention.

Don't be afraid to seek help. It could very well change your life.


If you're getting enough sleep and don't have any other psychological disorders, e.g., depression, etc., most likely it's burnout. A serious lifestyle change should help (e.g., spend 6 to 12 months travelling through Europe, work as a logger in the Canadian wilderness, join the Peace Corps) but, alas, not all of us have the luxury of doing that. Perhaps also just finding a less stressful job might help.


Instead of asking HN, ask a doctor. What you're describing sounds like the textbook symptoms of ADHD. Numerous studies have shown psychotherapy to be ineffective for ADHD compared to medication therapies, which have remarkably high success rates (much more so than, say, antidepressants do for depression) and relatively good side effect profiles.


"But as soon as I have time, like in weekends, I start wasting it in useless activities."

Are you familiar with the concept of a duty cycle?


you a drinker? I find that if I was out partying the night before, my mind just likes to do brainless and mindless tasks like watching tv, surfing reddit, etc.

That's why I try to limit it these days. I wouldn't have a problem writing documentation, but actually creating productive code is a chore in and of itself during those days.


When I'm having trouble getting started I like to reread Joel Spolsky's "Fire and Motion" post with this quote: "Maybe this is the key to productivity: Just getting started"



You probably just have programmers block. Give in to your distractions for an entire day or two. You'll get so sick of them that you may want to go back to programming. Going to a cafe to work is also a really good idea. Have done a lot of work in them. We all go through these problems.


I think I have some sort of addiction/disorder and I can look for psychotherapy, but I wan to know if there are easier and cheaper remedies.

The loss of productivity from what sounds like ADD will be a lot more expensive than the cost of consultation and medication.


If I find that if I'm not concentrating or get easily distracted I just do something fun for a while. Soon I'm refreshed and I can start working seriously. Maybe you can take a break, go away on a weekend or watch a movie to refresh your mind?


Obligatory Time Management For System Administrators (and programmers) reference: http://www.tomontime.com

I've read through the comments and think this book would apply well to many of your situations.


I'm on Reddit all the time, but never on HN. I just visit occasionally (just now created an account to post this). I'm so happy I found this post (until it gets lost in my sea of bookmarks and I don't get to try any of the solutions).


We're happier when busy, but our instinct is for idleness:



I've noticed that since I've been using internet - circa 1997-1998 right after I was out of the army (Bulgarian's army).

Too much distraction - even news.yc is one for me and TCE (thechaosengine)


Short advice: Sounds like burn out. Take a vacation, get a hobby, find a girl to make out with. If that doesn't work, get checked for adult onset attention deficit disorder.


You might try this:



Read a book called "The power of full engagement" by Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr. Its a life-changing book.


Set up your router to block certain sites during certain hours so that you are forced to work.


Try Rescuetime's focus time. Warning: it is a little broken on Mac with Chrome.


When I find myself doing stupid distraction stuff, I generally go take a nap.


yes yes yes this is me too :( i dont find code/work to be enough interesting to need to do them, and since i have no fixed deadlines i end up researching/reading a lot and producing almost nothing.


Read "Pragmatic Thinking & Learning" by Andy Hunt.


go to a place where there are many trees, what you need is a break of what distracts you.




Or provigil. But I don't suggest either as longterm solutions unless you get psychiatric confirmation that medication is necessary.


I highly recommend learning meditation. I meditate once a day for 15 minutes and it's worked wonders for my ability to feel well and focused.

Personally I learned a cheaper and less cult like variation of transcendental meditation, because it requires little training, time, or even effort.

A day without meditation for me now is worse than a day without sleeping.


Hello, could you please elaborate a bit on the meditation technique? What exactly do you do? Thank you so much for answering. I've been trying to learn TM but all the courses cost a fortune..


I'm getting interested in meditation too and I'm starting with this:



Hello, thank you for sharing this!


Better late than never.

The course I used was this one:


I'm sure there are many like it, but this one was well done and taught me the basics of this type of meditation.


I don't remember the name of the course but will respond when I get home tonight. Message me if I forget.


I just spent a useless day not managing to get in serious productivity mode, and I tried 15 minutes of meditation -- I am SO relaxed now, it is like a short nap that also stretches your body and makes you high on oxygen... It's still very hard to control the flow of thoughts, but I guess that comes with practice.

I couldn't get in Lotus position, but this page at Wikihow helped quite a bit: http://www.wikihow.com/Meditate


The past month I've been hitting the gym in my building whenever my brain doesn't want to work, and clear my mind completely. I'll put on the noise canceling headphones, find some good 100 -> 120bpm music, and get lost in it while pedaling as fast as I can for 30 minutes, then a shower and a snack and some coffee seems to be a good way to really put me back on track for a few hours.


Sound as if your mind is in another place. Your mind is on vacation and you want to get it to work again. Unfortunately it refuses to do so and you are in this situation.

Speak with your mind as with a friend and try to convince it that today is not a holiday. You need to order your life, to have a plan for the future, that will give you the strength for today.


Sleep more!

This happens to me when I don't get enough sleep for a while.


Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact