Taking a walk — an underestimated software engineering tool
I’ve found we often underestimate the power of getting up from your desk, heading outside, and talking a walk in software engineering (and so many other fields).
At my former company I often met with the sales staff. I loved hearing about the intricacies of their work, and would keep them updated on where the product was from an engineering standpoint.
One thing I really liked about meeting with sales was their policy; any meeting that could, should be a walking meeting. With warm days far and few between in Toronto, many liked to take advantage of the opportunity to stretch their legs, and found that the different environment enhanced creative thinking.
Many times I’ve sat at my desk for hours at a time, walking through code and architecture in my head, trying to determine the best way to do things. Often, I don’t take off my headphones out of fear of being interrupted and losing my flow, or train of thought.
I’ve found however the importance of taking walks as a software engineer. They don’t need to be long, or have a destination, just an opportunity to get your legs moving and put yourself in a different environment. Many times over I’ve been struggling with a problem at my desk, and within 5 minutes of taking a walk have thought of a solution.
Forcing yourself to take a break once in a while allows you to take a step back from the problem at hand and look at it from a new angle. Stretching your legs also has the added benefit of making sure your lifestyle as a software engineer isn’t as sedentary as usual. Of course, not all software engineers have the ability to take a walk — but any break from the task at hand, that allows for quiet reflection, should do just fine.
What are your thoughts on walks?