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This might be a bit subjective and maybe that's a problem here, but I'm asking my question anyway :) Also, I found similiar questions (but none, answered my question), so you don't need to remind me to that, thanks.

About my question:

I have problems to keep my motivation/concentration the whole day up. I mean, in the morning until after the lunch it's all good. The problem usually starts round about 3pm-4pm, where I have (on hard days) massive problems. I get some sort of writer's block and can't think straight about problems anymore. I often just stare at the code and nothing... I know I need to solve problem X or achive something Y with my code. But it feels like my brain can't (or can hardly) make the connection between an idea and the actual code, I'd need to do this, anymore. Usually relax methods don't really work anymore, when this point is arrived.

When I have some extra hours on my account, then I usually call it a day and go home. But obviously I can't do this anytime, sometimes something just needs to get done soon or I need the extra hours.

I know, this is a sign of my body that I can't keep this up anymore without a longer rest. And I know (and you guys, too) that this job can be mentally really exhausting. (I work with sharepoint...) Don't get me wrong, I like my job, but I really do feel bad when I can't do with all the passion I'd want to and slack off in the later hours of the day. It just feels like my power is drained for the rest of the day for mental work.

And now my actual question. Do you guys experienced similiar? What did helped you? How can you sustain your power for the whole day? (I just don't want to ask myself at the end of the day "why was I so "lazy" the last 1-2 hours" anymore) This is really important for me, I hope someone can help.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Aug 19 '11 at 11:10

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closed as off topic by ChrisF Aug 19 '11 at 12:41

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Try avoiding carbohydrates ... –  tripleee Aug 19 '11 at 10:58
    
I feel exactly the same... I usually go out for a 30min. walk, buy something to eat and stare at the pretty girls outside :-) Sometimes it helps, sometimes it makes it even harder to get back to work. Or i just remember how my last months pay looked when i was running early from work and silently suffer few more hours... We have even an funny expression for this state of mind, but its not translatable or it would no more be funny :-) –  Gatekeeper Aug 19 '11 at 11:03
    
This issue isn't unique to software development and so is off topic for this site. Please review the FAQ –  ChrisF Aug 19 '11 at 12:41
    
Are you certain you have enough breaks during the day. –  user1249 Aug 19 '11 at 12:46
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@ChrisF just because the problem is not unique to Programmers does not mean it is not an issue important to programmers. Though this certianly has nothing to do with programming, the question about the award I think did. –  Chad Aug 19 '11 at 14:57

6 Answers 6

I am not familiar with the work regulations at your place, but if I am feeling a lack of motivation (and with some topics this is not uncommon), I usually go to the gym just around the corner of our office. After one or two hours, I feel refreshed. Our boss encourages us to do so (if the job ultimativly gets done). Another thing I learnt and what really helps me, is to work according to my biological rhythm. I don't really work good early in the morning and at some time after lunch. So I usually work until late evening and some times at night form home (also, our boos encourages us to do so, if the job gets done). So I think I get through the day with sometimes longer sport-breaks and picking working at times at a day, where I feel really productive.

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+1 for having such a nice boss (and to cheer you up) –  ralf.w. Nov 24 '11 at 15:39

First, it is important to recognize that this is in itself normal. Man is no mechanical device that does it's work equally well all the day.

How long one can keep up concentration is, of course, different for every individual.

If you know you can't stand it for too many hours, don't try to force it. This only brings you nearer to burnout.

Rather, plan your day differently. Let mental activity be interrupted by some sports, or at least gymnastic. Pause more often, and do something "bodily" in the pauses.

And don't feel bad about it.

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Take about ten minutes of your time to chat with a co-worker. Lock your screen and leave your seat for that. The human attention span is about 20 minutes. After that, your brain needs some distraction and time to rest. Chatting with workmates will distract you and show you that there's more at work than just the code and the tasks: the people you work with. Spend some time to appreciate their presence.

If your boss doesn't allow periodic small time-outs, the decline in motivation isn't caused by yourself but by external factors. Your workplace is responsible for providing you with an environment adequate for work. If it doesn't, it might be the right time to switch employers.

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What about some external help ... something like coffe or redbull. Or otherwise, if you're already taking those why don't try do pass the day without them?

It works for me. Anyway I have the same problem (maybe not so hard) but at the morning I'm way better developer that late at night.

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+1: Coffee, works for me, too. –  Falcon Aug 19 '11 at 11:12
    
Fight symptoms with drugs? You can't be serious. This is the surest way to ruin your life. –  Ingo Aug 19 '11 at 11:23
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Caffeine is a nightmare, it has a terrible effect on the body and you don't actually operate any better. Saying all that I've just had my fourth coffee of the day. –  Ian Aug 19 '11 at 11:28
    
I've got colleagues who are addicted to cola. hehe. But I, I get my alcaloids from cigarettes and coffee. –  Falcon Aug 19 '11 at 11:38

I hope this is not a everyday phenomenon else it would be only upto you to explore and find a solution.

Generally during such times i prefer to surf the web and read on some topics that interest me(nothing related to programming) or take a stroll and be off the desk for some while (Wow fresh air that was what i was missing) and then return back to resume the task.

If a terribly drained mentally i join in for some indoor sports and that brings back some adrenaline gush and then head back to work.Hope something like this works out for you.

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I do use coffee, cigarettes and sugar to get me through that same mid-afternoon crash. But I shouldn't and I wouldn't recommend it. It's effective but dangerous.

This is going to sound really stupid - at least it did to me - but have you tried an apple? I can get a good hour-long burst of focus and energy from an apple. I find it a pain to keep a supply of them around, and that's why I don't use them all the time. But other than that there are no downsides.

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