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What to do when stuck on a problem? Sleep. (zackyap.com)
31 points by zackyap on Sept 2, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 11 comments

Anything that takes you away from the problem will help.

Take a shower if you don't have long.

I recommend walking before taking on a big problem - even if you're not stuck.

A 1h walk means you are unable to code your first solution, by the time you get back you'll be 4 iterations on in your head - you've just saved yourself 2 days.

I too find that planning code while in the shower or during a walk is much more effective than when at the computer or whiteboard.

Even just going to the bathroom without the smartphone can be great for ideas. Nothing beats shows though!

So, it's a short post about how sleeping might help, but there's no attempt to actually conduct a scientific experiment to find out if you get better ideas by doing that. At the very least you could do is supplement your post with some citations.

Are startup people so lazy that they rely only on seat-of-the-pant anecdotal evidences?

To be fair, he does at least reference Wikipedia, which has well-sourced statements at least partially backing up what he appears to be claiming.

^ Yeap. This. I was mainly trying to share a problem solving technique that's been working for me. I did look up Wikipedia for an explanation and linked to it. It was a pretty decent explanation with credible research sources. I'll make it more obvious that it isn't some sort of scientific self-quote.

Thanks for the suggestion and thanks for backing me up.


That unconscious thought aids creativity is an idea with some history behind it. The only problem I have with the original article is the intentionality that the author seems to claim. Mathematics used to just happen to me when I was thoroughly immersed in problems.

Try it. If it doesn't work for you, you'll know fairly quickly.

Yes, yes, exactly what i am doing for a long time, deliberatley. My brain works at night, i usally can not get very good sleep, but i do see lot of interesting dreams and somehow the solution presents himself at some point. Be prepared you may forgot the solution when you wake up like dreams you saw. So try to not mix them in the middle of the night ;-) And no, i cannot help with that, i can separate them somehow.

I spend some time thinking through the ideas when I wake. Evernote works great for me especially when it's copy or marketing ideas.

Having a notepad and pen next to the bed to quickly jot down ideas helps, it's low tech but it works for me.

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