In the programming world especially, there’s this badge of honor that seems to come with hunkering down for long stretches of coding. And certainly when you’re in “the zone” (yes, it’s a thing) you want to keep things rolling. But other times, like when you’re really stuck, you’ve probably hit that point of diminishing return where your time isn’t being well spent any more.

One of the most valuable skills I’ve picked up over the years isn’t having learned a tool or a language. Rather, it’s having learned when to push through a problem and when to take a break. Whether it’s your subconscious working for you while you’re “unplugged” or just returning with a fresh mind, walking away from a problem is very often a better way to solve than simply bludgeoning it with time.

Sure, you might solve the problem if you throw another 3 hours at it, but you’re also very likely to have a fresh look and a 15 minute solution when you come back to it the next morning.

Learn when to walk away. Nobody is keeping stats on how long you’ve gone without getting up… except maybe you.

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