On solving problems

There’s a common advice that if you’re struggling with a problem, you should leave it alone for some time.

Go on a walk, do something else.
Your subconscious, meanwhile, will be doing the work for you. And suddenly, an elegant solution will pop into your head.

Sometimes, this is true. But then there’s another way.

Do you have to physically leave the problem? Or can you just distance yourself mentally?

Whenever I code, I often reach a point where my brain is fried. The harder I think, the more confused I get. Typically, this means that it’s time to get some fresh air.

Or… what if instead, I stop consciously thinking about the problem? What if I allow myself to space out and let my fingers type whatever keys they reach for?

At first, this leads to something nonsensical. Perhaps I even make things worse. And then, voila, everything starts working. What a miracle.

This first few times this happened to me, I thought it was pure luck. But this has been happening enough to where I think there’s something else at play.

Maybe this is just another way to let the subconscious take the reins. And (or?) maybe there’s a flaw in our conscious thinking that tends to overthink and make problems harder than they actually are.