There’s nothing worse…

…than being a developer who leaves the office with a pernicious coding problem unsolved – mostly due to working with a technology I’m not familiar with.  I spent a couple hours at the end of the day trying to make some new test automation code work to no avail.  Leaving work without solving the issue just leaves a very sour taste in my mouth.  I fired up my computer and took another hour and a half to finally solve my problem this evening.  I wasted a night, but at least I feel calmer heading into the bedtime hours.

About Jeremy Miller

Jeremy is the Chief Software Architect at Dovetail Software, the coolest ISV in Austin. Jeremy began his IT career writing "Shadow IT" applications to automate his engineering documentation, then wandered into software development because it looked like more fun. Jeremy is the author of the open source StructureMap tool for Dependency Injection with .Net, StoryTeller for supercharged acceptance testing in .Net, and one of the principal developers behind FubuMVC. Jeremy's thoughts on all things software can be found at The Shade Tree Developer at
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  • Dave

    I am glad to hear I am not the only one who dreams of code at night. =)

  • wth

    I rather leave early, go to bed and come back to work at 4am than staying up late. I should be awake to think more clearly.

    Staying late doesn’t always necessarily is a good thing and you are making it sound like everyone should stay up late if they have a problem.

    Yes there are times you should stay up late to meet the deadline. But IMHO, a fresh mind helps you solve problems better.

  • Troy Gould

    This is why my wife hates my profession.
    Sadly, I’ve solved problems in my sleep.

  • Doug Wilson

    I hear what you’re saying but there have been many times when I’ve left a problem at work, slept on it, got up the next morning, sat down at the keyboard and solved the issue in a few minutes.

    A fresh set of eyes doesn’t have to belong to someone else.

  • Tom

    I have a hard time going to bed only If I’ve run into an issue with my personal projects, but I leave work at work. Then again, I may not have been at this long enough.

  • Ryan Anderson

    Leave work? What are you crazy?

  • LukeB

    Better to get it done before bed than have dreams about it later. Been there, done that.

  • Dale

    My wife is mostly tolerant of this, though is sometimes annoyed. For my part, I try to work on it mentally instead in quiet moments. so I don’t do the rude “hiding in my home office” thing.

  • Garry

    I agree, the worst time for me is a Friday afternoon. I try my best to stop at a point where I can safely go home with a clear mind. If there are a couple of hours left in the working day, I use it to experiment and read about new stuff. Sometimes I totaly fail and end up like yourself going home with a problem racking my brain all evening. Luckily I have an understanding wife who just leaves me to it.

  • Stephen

    Tell me about it.. I’ve never had problems sleeping until the last 3-4 years.. I find the trip home from work lets me get a lot of insight.. often 10 minutes after leaving work theres an “ahhh ha!” moment.. but other times I’m plagued by something that keeps me awake, equally if I’ve done something that I though was really cool – then I might be going over it in my head and find it equally as impossible to sleep..

  • Konstantin

    A very familiar feeling… But for many (including myself) solutions, dreamed up during sleep, were really good :)

  • Paul

    I used to stay and slave away until I had got something that worked. Bizarrely now I’ve found there can be nothing better than leaving the office with a problem unsolved, the number of times the solution has come to me as I drove home (sorry to everyone else on the road, in the ditch, etc)

  • Jan Van Ryswyck

    Aah, a familiar feeling. What’s even worse than leaving the office without a solution, is going to sleep without a solution. This lets me have all kinds of nightmares, but I mostly wake up after dreaming about the solution.

  • Jeff

    You’re definitely not alone. Every developer I know, including myself, suffers from the inability to stop thinking about work’s unsolved problem(s) after work hours. Sleeping before it’s solved is not an option — unless, of course, if you fall asleep after hours of brainstorming in bed.

    Oh… our flaws :(