Learning To Code

How to Get Unstuck When Learning to Code Online

Josh Hirshfeld / 11 September 2017

Want to challenge yourself to learn to code this month? It’s not too late to join our 21-day #BacktoCode Challenge – you’ll join a motivated community of new programmers and have the chance to win Flatiron School swag and prizes.

We’ve all been there: staring at the computer screen, fingers frozen, a headache coming on fast, unable to even think about working. Some students join online coding programs like Flatiron School’s Online Web Developer Program because they excel at learning online, blasting through lessons and coursework with laser-like focus. But for many of us, it’s tough to stay motivated, especially with so many distractions (must… finish… Mr. Robot…) available at the click of a trackpad.

Stuck in your tracks? Feeling like that Ruby lesson is about to drive you off the rails? We suggest the following tricks:  


Take breaks. Real breaks. Like, get off the computer and go for a run; don’t just click over to another tab in your browser. If you’re hitting a wall: play a game, call a friend, exercise, meditate. Here at the Flatiron School office, we prefer impromptu karaoke sessions (dancing encouraged) – and we always return to work more energized.


aloneIt may feel like you’re in this all alone – well, you and your laptop – but you’re not. Reach out to your instructors and other students in your program (who are probably dealing with the same feelings as you). We encourage student collaboration and communication via Slack and study groups on Learn.co online platform, and make sure our education team is always available to chat.


Learning to code is hard, especially when you’re balancing your studies with your life. There will be times when you feel overwhelmed. The best way forward is having a consistent schedule to lean on when times get tough. So ask yourself: What can you realistically accomplish given your learning speed and schedule? You’ll be more fired up to continue if you regularly hit your goals.


Don’t work in vacuum. It can be hard to see how your early work will translate into the beautiful apps and websites that inspired you to start learning code in the first place; revisit them and remind yourself that their creators were once in the same position as you.


Or, simply stop trying to motivate yourself and just start working. Research shows that forcing yourself to feel motivated can actually have the opposite effect by adding the additional (and harder) job of wanting to tackle the task at hand. Don’t further distract yourself by reading pump-up lists or watching motivational TED talks: be content to start your work at a slower pace even if you’re not excited about it.

Once you get into it, sheer momentum will propel you to tackle the lesson. So take a break! And then get started.

Feeling unstuck and ready to learn? Join in on Flatiron School’s #BacktoCode Challenge!

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