Put your complex problems under siege

3 Tips For Programmers When Solving Complex Problems

Tip 1: You need to believe that you are capable of solving the problem

This might sound a bit too out there and pointless for some people, but this is a very important mindset to have when approaching complex problems. The first thing your mind will do is it will get overwhelmed and this is where most people will call it a day and stop.

This is just the first phase of approaching a complex problem and if you want to go about solving it you need to be able to calm down your mind. Walk outside, go to the gym, talk to a friend, sleep on it, watch funny videos or mediate (which in my opinion is the most useful way of calming your mind).

Once you calmed your mind down come back to my first point which is to be able to believe that you are able to solve the problem. Now believing that you can solve a complex problem is not that easy in the beginning if you have never solved any before. But remember this – by solving each complex problem you are faced with you are increasing and strengthening your emotional immunity towards solving even more complex problems in the future. Look at it as your reward for finding the solution and sticking with the process!

Tip 2: Put your complex problem under siege

Once you believe that you can solve a complex problem you are faced with the next step is to stay on it and sleep on it.

Here is the secret – all of us have gloomy days and then we have our bright and clear days. Here is an example: have you ever woke up on certain days and just felt less intelligence than you actually are? (whatever the reason may be sleeping late, bad food, over workout  etc) well on those days you might try to solve the problem and feel like you can NEVER do it, but come the next day when you wake up feeling fresh you feel like you can dominate the world. The secret is your state and so you need to capitalize on that.

Don’t give up on a problem because you cannot solve it right away. Give it a push on your bad days as well so you are at least making some progress and keeping the momentum going and then on your good days at your peak performance hammer it out and get as much out of it as possible. Even if you don’t solve it on your good day that’s just fine because you know that you will put the problem under siege UNTIL it is solved.

Another great thing to keep in mind is that when you stay with a problem for a long time you start forming new neural connections just for understanding and solving that problem which is why overtime you start to understand the problem a lot better, you start seeing the big picture and able to put the pieces together as well. This is the secret of it all and you better capitalize on it!

Tip 3: When you are having gloomy days and you feel like your brain doesn’t work as effectively do this

Personally for me what helps immensely is when I start doing related or unrelated simple activities that end up putting me into the flow state.

The flow state, shortly explained, is the state when you feel in the zone, you feel focused, clear headed and ready to perform.

Find some tasks that are easy to perform but not too easy that will bore you the secret of getting into the flow state is to be able to continually perform a task while increasing the level of challenge – yes this does sound like video games but I would suggest not to do it because it might have the opposite effect  (meaning you start playing the game instead of trying to solve the problem).

For me specifically I start writing unit tests and then increasing the complexity of unit tests when I feel I cannot solve complex problems as easily. I would just create builders and organize the code a little more as well just to get myself into the zone. This is a very specific example but hope you can resonate with what I am talking about here and if not then give it a try!

If you would like more information on this topic there is a great book written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called Flow.

Hope these tips helps you in your future endeavors and if you have any questions please leave them down below.

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