When you get stuck on a problem, how do you get unstuck?

When you get stuck on a problem, how do you get unstuck?

Join me at the watercooler to answer today's question.

Jenna Pederson
Amazon Employee
Published Mar 18, 2024
We all get stuck on problems, whether that's the daily Wordle or Connections or a coding problem. But how we get unstuck is probably different for all of us. For me when I'm stuck on the Wordle or Connections (games I play daily with my family), all it usually takes is stepping away from the game for a few hours to do anything else and picking it back up. Or even just a little trash talking. Then I've got the answer! Like word problems and games, coding and other technical problems also pose similar challenges.
Sometimes I get stuck trying to debug a hairy bug or unwind some complex logic. Sometimes I'm trying to figure out why I'm getting a connection refused or connection timed out error when setting up my VPC. It depends on the problem I'm up against, but there are a few things I do to get unstuck:
  1. Step away from the computer and think about something else. I come back with a fresh perspective. Even if it's just to spot the missing semi-colon!
  2. Write the problem down on a sheet of paper. If I can diagram it or jot down some pseudocode, I look at the problem in a different way.
  3. Explain the problem to my coworker on Slack. Sometimes I figure out the problem before I get an answer back and sometimes after they ask a few clarifying questions. Sometimes it takes both of us pulling our hair out as we figure it out together.

When you get stuck on a problem, how do you get unstuck?

Whether it's stepping away from your computer for a walk, taking a nap (I've never done this), or rubber ducking with a coworker, share your tips for getting unstuck in the comments below to help the community!

Any opinions in this post are those of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of AWS.