Personal Productivity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people wanting to improve their personal productivity. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm a teen, I don't have a job as a programmer. I study programming at my school, though I didn't learn it in my school but through YT tutorials. Anyway, I've been doing programming for about 2 years and I find that when I do some kind of advanced tasks (student coding competition) I lose focus/attention after 5-10 minutes depending on the difficulty and I need to have about 5 seconds of refresh time to start again. I haven't been diagnosed with ADHD, but I have had people tell me that I'm hyperactive. Is this normal? Do I need more experience to build endurance? Do you guys have this happen to you?

share|improve this question
Do you consider losing 5 seconds of concentration every 5-10 minutes a problem? Seems better than average. – JeffO Dec 30 '13 at 18:47

Solving problems is a tough challenge. In general, I would always try to get off the screen - start drawing/writing down on paper some things about the problem - the constraints, some facts about it and then start brainstorming. In order to not lose focus, I break things down to smaller questions like these:

  • Try to classify the problem - is it search, backtracking, dynamic programming, graphs involved, math, etc.
  • Then I try to focus on some concrete task - if it's dynamic programming, I start working on some sub-problems. If it's a graph problem, I try to build a graph on the paper, start thinking what algorithm might be useful.

So, I try to decompose the solving process of the problem into smaller steps, which would be my "solving" strategy and then focus on each of these steps, having a little break between the steps to relax and enjoy the current outcome/breakthrough.

As a whole, the brain is powerful, but cannot focus on many things at a time, so decomposing your problem leaves smaller things to focus on and shows you that it's actually solvable and you can do it.

share|improve this answer

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes you need to take a step back to refocus on the issue, approach it from a different perspective or simply not become frustrated. As long as you regain your focus, it's nothing to worry about.

Over time, you'll begin to think in larger "chunks" and your breaks will become more dispersed. You could try training your brain with some to improve - just adjust the times to what fits your brain.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.