08 Jun 15-Minute Rule – who you gonna call?

In our Full-Stack course, our tutors and mentors recommend something called the 15-minute rule. Yep… we all know what the 5-second rule is, which is completely different, and if you were to eat your food 15 minutes after it landed on the ground, that would be unhygienic. No, the 15-minute rule is a wise way in which to deal with problems – not just in coding, but maybe even in life.

The 15-minute rule is something to contemplate when you come across what you think is an impossible problem. In brief, it’s where we advise you to drop everything, become 100% focused on the problem and try to come up with a solution. If, after 15 minutes, you can’t solve the problem, then it’s time to ask someone for help.

Your time is valuable (particularly if you are paid to work on a project). We recommend not to spend too much time stuck on an intractable problem when others can help. However, don’t bother others until you’ve made enough effort to tackle the problem yourself. This is where the 15-minute rule comes in.

Following the 15-minute rule is good for numerous reasons. Firstly, if you follow this rule, you can stop stressing about the solution. You will usually have an answer after 15 minutes (unless the problem is unsolvable!). Secondly, it saves you a lot of time.

What should you do for those 15-minutes?

For this to work, we’re not just advising you to mull over the problem with a cup of tea. No, we want you to become 100% focused on the problem. Because we’re talking about coding, you must document in detail what you are trying to achieve and the steps that you are taking to solve the problem. Also, document how the result is different from what you expected. If you document the steps and explain it to the person you are going to ask, they will be able to point out where you went wrong. This will make it easier for you to learn from your mistakes. Another major benefit to writing out the steps of the problem is that you might actually figure out for yourself where you went wrong.

Before you call

Before you start your 15 minutes, remember to have a quick search online for an answer to your problem. Many, if not most, of the issues you’ll face can be solved (or made simpler) with the help of useful responses on Stack Overflow. If there’s an issue with a line of code, then why not run it through HTML or CSS3 validator, YouTube or even Google? Often you will find that these resources hold the answer to your questions.

Who you gonna call?

If you’ve been taking part in a Code Institute course, you know there are many problem-solving resources. If you’re on Slack (or regularly on Stack 0verflow), these are full of people who are willing to help. Your options are not just limited to these places. If you’re working in an office where your colleagues also code, then use these contacts to help you find a solution (this may turn into a case of Rubber Ducking). You’d be surprised at how helpful people can be. Also, coders love to show off their abilities – it’s good to take pride and showing it by helping – these people have surely consulted with others when they’ve had problems too.

If there’s no one around that you can ask, now might be a good time to contact a tutor.

No matter what the problem is, asking for help is a good thing. In the work world, asking for guidance or help is, and should be, a regular occurrence. Likewise, if you’re able to help others in return, it’s always nice to return the favour.

Want to take your first step into the Coding world? Try our 5 Day Coding Challenge now.