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Sideprojects Motivations and Goals

coolgoose profile image Alexandru Bucur Originally published at alexandrubucur.com ・2 min read

Hi Everyone,

This is more of an introspective blog post regarding side-projects and finding the motivation and time to do other 'work' outside of the daily job.

As you may or may not notice, I had a solid 6+ months pause from blogging.

The main issue here was the fact that I have the tendency at times in my side projects to search for the best solution, and not focus on the task at hand. Hence, this caused a lack of progress, that well, reduced the 'rewards' so the motivation all but vanished.

Since I recently re-started working on some side projects, there are a few things that I noted down that at least in my case helped to keep myself motivated.

  1. If you are starting a new project, allocate time to define what a minimal viable product means for you.

    My mistake here was that I was thinking initially that the project I want to work on will cover a broad range of features.

  2. Allocate at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to work on your project.

    Don't keep reddit, youtube, ycombinator or any other sites open while you work on your project since at least for me, I am tempted to do a refresh and read new things. That, in turn, makes the limited available time for the side project to get that much smaller.

  3. Don't chase magical solutions that cover all cases, but work on your product and do clean up as you advance.

    You will be tempted to work on the 'best' solution since you're not at your daily job and be strongly against cutting corners. But the issue here is that without real deadlines you will not progress and the project world, in general, is full of imperfect solutions that get their job done.

  4. If you choose a technology that takes you out of your comfort zone, have a good reason to do it or just stick to your best technology.

    When I initially started on the project, my main motivation was working more with C# . At some point I was asking myself if this isn't something that just keeps me back on being more productive than just writing the backend in something I'm more comfortable with (mainly PHP, Python or Javascript), but at the end of the day it's more important for me to get out of my comfort zone.

Hopefully, this will ring a bell and help somebody else go over their impasse and continue to have fun and progress when working with new things or doing side projects.

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coolgoose profile

Alexandru Bucur

@coolgoose

Programmer, Manager and a jack of all trades. Making things work since the dawn of time.

Discussion

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For me the hardest part is getting into "the zone" when you only have a short amount of time each day to work on your side project. And if I do get into the zone I inevitably stay up later than I would like because I just wanna keep coding!

 

I think that's one of the compromises you need to make when you have limited amount of time. I could be 'zoning' until 2 AM but I am going to be a reck the next day.

 

These are some solid tips for staying on the path. I too have someone passion projects that have gone idle. My biggest problem is there's always some other discipline or technology that gets my attention and I end up feeling it will be more applicable in my everyday work than some of the stuff I'm currently working on. But I've been pretty good about eventually coming back to my side projects when time permits.

 

Yup, not chasing after the FOTM is difficult. I really have an itch to play with rust and NIM :)

 

Deciding what an MVP is for me was crucial in finally deciding to pull the trigger on the first release of my new site. It's not perfect for sure but done is better than perfect, and publishing anything at all was a big motivator to continue working and improving!

 

Yup, having something 'up' and 'working' helps a lot.

 

Your point about using a technology you are comfortable with is a good one. I find that it's best to either explore a new technology or a new domain, but not both at the same time. For example, if you write .NET APIs at work, learning how to make an API in Elixir is reasonable. But if you've never programmed a game, trying to make in in Elixir as a first project is probably biting of too much. :)

 

A very good point. However, if you want to branch out completely, eg: Learn Blender to do 3d models, it's still a good thing if that's your motivator and you feel burned out by coding.