I'm over ten years in the workplace as a programmer. Originally my work was creating web applications in ASP.NET, including SQL databases. I've become an expert in web-based solutions from .Net forms to MVC and have designed SQL databases for medium-sized companies, I've learned multiple programming languages ad hoc and successfully worked on a large number of projects.

My problem is that every few years, and lately every half year, I've run against creative blocks. I've had projects where I was incapable of working for 10 days and then wrote and designed everything in the last two days. Currently I'm working as an IT externist in a large media company, developing parts of a planning application for the last two years, half time from home and half time in an empty room at work, where my single co-worker sometimes comes to check on me. The problem is that worker blocks now mean that anything that isn't easy to resolve leaves me paralysed, and the past four weeks (similar to weeks in the past) have been:

  • Pretending to work
  • Implementing a small change and then leaving it.
  • Trying hard to work, but any obstacle leaves me paralysed and just reading social media.
  • Occasionally I get other work from my boss from my parent company and resolve things immediately, in a few minutes, or hours outside work hours, with this kind of work my experience comes into play and I'm sharp.
  • Otherwise in this external job most of the time I'm stuck in limbo, can't work, want to work, but stay on social media, invent ways to pass the time.
  • I want to work but cant.
  • Whenever I have a holiday I feel great, but return to work in the same slump.

The current step I've done is I've deleted twitter from my phone, removed all saved passwords and am trying to cut myself off social media. I'm hoping to get back to work and remove all unnecessary internet interactions.

How can I restore my productivity when dealing with such a creative block?

I am able to do my job and have executed much more complicated things than I now have to, things I've done many times in the past, but currently am incapable and seem to be spiralling into destruction.


Seek (medical) help, and that may include counseling, medication, or even a therapy. I had also phases like this in the past, as others people answering had here, but I wont include my personal diagnosis - it could be physical, psychological, you could be doing the wrong job, or doing it in an bad environment.


The reasons could be many and varied, but when I had this problem a few years ago, it turned out to be my thyroid shutting down.

I'd go get a physical examination, and explain the symptoms to the doctor. A little blood work could end up showing the issue. Besides, it's always a good idea to get checked out once in a while.

A very inexpensive prescription got me back in the game.


The title of your question makes me think burnout could be an issue. According to Dr. Maslach, burnout can be caused by lack of control, lack of reward, absence of fairness, lack of community, conflict in values, and of course the usual overwork. Your work situation sounds really lonely to me, I think you could be suffering from lack of community. It's really hard to know if you're approaching a problem the right way when you don't have anyone around to bounce ideas off of.

On the upside, programmer communities are everywhere. If there are programmer meetups in your area and you aren't already going to them, I highly recommend it. There are also tons of slack groups for programmers, those can really help if local meetups don't exist or don't work for you.

I'm struggling with basically the same problem - intellectually I know I can do the work but when I sit down to actually do it I run to social media at the slightest hitch too.

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