The Wall

by Richard Kolkovich

As much as I love Pink Floyd, this post is not about that wall. This is about the wall we have all faced. It has stymied our best-laid plans; algorithms which solve “all the things” can still be dashed upon The Wall. This is our mental block, our self-generated defeat.

The Wall

For writers, it is Writer’s Block. For Peter Gibbons, it is the TPS Report. For so many developers, it is the beguilingly simple task that stops our momentum dead in its tracks. This is a source of consternation for so many bright minds. “How can such a simple thing make me so unproductive?!??!!?”

The Walk

This phenomenon is not new; the recognition of this phenomenon is not new. I cannot remmember the first time I was advised to take a break and come back to the problem. “Fresh eyes”, it was said, would magically allow me to see what previously lay hidden.

Be it a jigsaw puzzle or an amalgamation of language features and API restrictions, “fresh eyes”, I have found, are undoubtably the answer. No sooner had I stepped into a local bar than I realized my approach to a vexing problem was coming in from the wrong angle. And this is not a one-time revelation.

The Zone

When we are deep into The Zone, we tend to ignore the stimuli of the world. For the most part, this is a beneficial state. At times, however, it can result in us banging our virtual heads against The Wall for hours on end.

We must develop the ability to detect The Wall; we must know when we are getting nowhere, and we must find our own personal battering ram.

Ramming Speed

For many, this can be a simple change of context. Pack up your laptop and move to a different location; take a hike; hop on your bike and ride for an hour. Whatever allows you to clear your own head is inextricably linked to your biology and psychology.

The guiding principal here is to completely shift your mental focus. Un-focus your mind, or focus it on something completely unrelated to the problem you were facing.

Given the space to function, your mind will craft your very own Battering Ram, fully capably of breaking down the barrier of The Wall.