DEV Community


Discussion on: I've Trained Programming Interns For 6+ Years, Ask Me Anything!

jmona789 profile image
Jimmy Mona

I have a ton of side projects I want to start working more on, but when I get home after 8 hours of work I'm exhausted and I feel like I don't want to do anything nevermind more coding. I'm also in a sort of long distance relationship and the only time I see my significant other is on the weekends so I don't want to spend all weekend coding. How do I manage working full time and still make progress on my side projects?

simov profile image

It's either one of the two .. well, unless you have energy for both right?

So it's about taking risk and following your dream. If that's what you want, then save some money to the side and quit your job.

artisanasad profile image
Asad Shahbaz

Well I was in the same situation as you are but I have figured a way for myself.

Here is the thing, I always keep my work in a container and never let it flow outside it. Like when I am at the office, my focus is completely there not on the side projects and vice versa.
This helps me to keep my mind clear and focused.

Secondly I sleep early and gets up early to work on my side projects before going to work. By early I mean 4am ☺

Also keep in mind: never to get scared by the workload, because if you do you will loose focus in everything.

Good luck! 👍

codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald Ask Me Anything

This definitely comes up a lot, as most of our interns are full-time students as well. Truth is, everyone gets the same 24 hours a day, and many people balance full time jobs and hobbies or side projects.

Here's a few tips:

1: Scale your expectations.

Even accomplishing four hours of work in a week on your project is progress. You don't need to put it all in at once either. An hour here, 30 minutes there, and you're still making progress.

2: Schedule your time.

I tell many interns, "time left unscheduled is time that will fill itself." You should deliberately schedule times to work on your side-project, time for family, time for housework, time for gaming or catching up on DuckTales. It is important to actually SCHEDULE both productive and relaxation times, or one will take over the other!

You can (and should) still be flexible, but having a regular framework for your schedule helps you "gear up" for the next task, and makes it possible for you to guard that time proactively: "I'm sorry, I can't do X right now, I promised myself I'd spend half an hour on my side-project. I have an opening tomorrow at 6, though!"

You can also swap things around this way. If your best friend wants to meet with you for coffee at 1 pm on a Saturday, but that's when you work on your side project, find what you'd be okay giving up that day ("DuckTales can wait"), move your side-project into that slot, and go for coffee.

That reminds me, you should never answer "when can you do (...)" with "uh, iono". Have your scheduler handy. Pencil something in. It's better to reschedule or cancel (in advance) than to leave something hanging indefinitely.

3. Maximize your productivity.

Give yourself a few minutes to transition from one task to the next. Establish a dedicated workspace if you can, like a favorite nook in your living room, or the corner coffee shop. Figure out your ideal environment for working on your side-project. Use or your favorite music to help you focus. Block out distractions. Shut off social media. And then just work.

4. Rethink your approach.

All that might seem pointless if you're already exhausted, but there are still things you can do:

  • Consider becoming an early bird (YES, you can do that!) and setting aside some side-project time before work! Then you can get to the office still riding the high of doing something you love.

  • Part of your lunch hour may give you time to work on your side-project. I know many developers who do this, and they find it's a great way to refresh halfway through the day.

  • Look for other ways to reduce stress at work. Do you need to set better boundaries? (Read Boundaries by Henry Cloud) Should you rethink how you structure your workday?

  • Consider whether your side-project itself is contributing stress. If it is, you may need to restructure that as well. (See The Cranky Developer Manifesto and Why Is It Taking So Long??!?).

In short, it is possible to do this, but it may require you to rethink how your life is structured...and that's okay! Side-projects can be a good opportunity to improve your time management and life boundaries.

I myself run two companies, write both fiction and non-fiction books, and am a frequent fixture here on and Freenode IRC. I also play music, volunteer with my church, and take care of the house (yep, I'm fully domesticated). Yet my life is typically in pretty good balance. I use these tactics myself.

jessesingleton profile image
Jesse Singleton

As someone who is in a similar situation currently, that was really solid advice! Thanks