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Taking A Break Makes You A Better Coder

Daniel Rice

Every programmer has had this thought: “Just 15 more minutes and I’ll have that feature working!” And 15 minutes come and go, and before you know it its been an hour and the feature still isn’t working ideally. In fact, you’ve skipped lunch and have accomplished far less than you had hoped.

Why did you sit there for so long only to give up and probably get a late lunch both hungry and frustrated? Short and simple answer: You didn’t hold yourself accountable for your time and you did not let yourself have a good break!

It seems counter-intuitive, but there is a lot of research on taking breaks and how it affects productivity at work. See this link, this link, and this link for a quick glimpse at the information available today. The most important things to keep in mind as a programmer are that:

  1. Stress of any kind causes you to be less productive
  2. Science says a way to relive stress is to take a break and let your mind rest
  3. Therefore, build in breaks into your routine at work and you will get more done than if you hadn’t taken a break!

So how do we do this at Highgroove? We use a time tracking tool called Lets Freckle. We can start a timer and it will tell us how long we’ve been working on a specific task. My personal method for using Freckle and knowing when to take a break is pretty easy. If I’m working on something for 1 hour and I have not made good progress or made a commit and I’m feeling kind of tense about it, I’m probably in need of a mental break! If its been several hours (4+), I make myself get up and get a coffee at our office’s awesome espresso machine, check out our roof’s awesome view, or if I’m home, I’ll hit up the pool for 30 minutes. Anything that helps take the edge off of work stress will help make your day more enjoyable, less worrisome, and therefore more productive! Just go AFK for a bit, don’t sit there too long, and a funny thing will happen: You’ll be a better coder for it! Trust me!

How do you take breaks?

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