How do you stay motivated with your side projects?

jonoyeong profile image Jonathan Yeong ・1 min read

For me, it's staying organized. I'm tracking my feature list on my Github project. Keeping the features relevant and up to date has helped me stay on track. Here's what my Github project looks like:

Github project

What helps keep you motivated with your side projects? I'd love to hear some of your tips and tricks!


Editor guide

Before creating what became DEV and everything we're doing I made the promise to myself that I'd put in ten years on the project before calling it quits. That meant I could really take my time with it. I started with the Twitter account. It was a year and a half before making the website and years more building it out.

My goal was ten years before it had to show any progress at all. And I think that promise to myself really helped me stay calm and focused and think longterm.


I love that you gave yourself breathing room. I definitely fall into the trap of trying to do too much in a short amount of time. Especially, when everyone around you is creating amazing things. Thank you for the advice!


@ben , could you describe the process of choosing the name (or, if you already did it, could you kindly point me out to the resource)?


The name @thepracticaldev was sort of just the first thing that popped into my head because I wanted to do something. Then after a couple earlier iterations I settled on the logo with the uppercase DEV. I wanted something that would look good on a t-shirt and I liked the retro arcade kind of look. So the name of the site kind of came off of that.

Forem was more of a deep deliberate process with a lot of names written down and a lot of conversations with folks to brainstorm some of the ideas, before Forem eventually won out. Our mission statement had already been established as being to "Empower Community", so making our product "For Empowering Community" with the "For Em..." play on spelling really felt right.

Naming things is hard.


Having a Trello board with lots of planned work has always been helpful to me.

At the same time, with side projects, I like to have the freedom to work on whatever interests me at the moment. Most of my side projects haven't been huge money-makers, but more of a learning ground and creative outlet.


Having the right mindset for a side project is so important. Personally, focusing on learning and creativity trumps the need to make money. If I'm going to stay motivated, I definitely do not want my side project to feel like work. Great advice, thanks Karl!


Nowadays I can't really live productively without using trello and google calendar.

  • Every night I write down on a piece of paper my daily review of what happened that day.

  • Then I open up trello review completed and uncompleted tasks, then organise them for the next day.
    My trello cards
    Well-done (means complete for this week)

  • Then I open up google calendar and based on that manage my day.



For me, I start by documenting and doing research before I write a single piece of code, then I do it in terms of phase,
I'm currently working on github.com/fossapps/Feature.Manager initial phase was to be able to turn on and off a feature easily on production without having to deploy, (also ability to turn or off a feature for certain percentage of traffic)

I've delivered API for this, and now I'm working on UI, my first milestone is to be able to create a demo video and put it on github, so I'm working towards that, and my milestones are about 2 weekends long, so it's easy to keep at it.

Once I finish initial phase, I go to next phase for 4 weekends, then I continue that way.

First phase will have consumer of this already, so getting second phase will be even more interesting.


I've already seen a lot of good stuff in comments, a lot talking about tasks, lists and so one.

Here's my biggest advice: don't scarry yourself with huge lists of "todo". As your tasks have to be manageable, small, your lists have to follow the same rules.

I used to work on a side project with a huge list of todo and... I've quickly lost my motivation "huhh, so much to do... Let's go on Netflix!". If you have a lot of ideas, write them in another board.

Don't put too much work/pressure :) Stay cool and stay awesome by making little progress.


Oh my, having an endless todo list has happened to me so many times. One way I've worked around it is to prioritize and tag the todos. In my most recent project, I organized them via milestones. And before I start working, I figure out what is really important to me and ignore the rest. Thank you for the comment!


Yes, I'm doing the exact same thing! And that's awesome. By doing so, we're reducing the feedback loop delay, and that affects very positively the motivation :)


I would say pick a project that you really really want to do, don't do a project just for the sake of doing a side project. If you are having a hard time to motivate try to put a deadline, like I should release the V1 of the app in one month, or mini milestones like "this feature should be done by sunday".
Personnaly for me it's often hard to start but once I've started working I'm in the flow and I keep going. So I set small objectives, small changes that I want to implement so I can say to myself "I'll just do this small step and then I can stop if I want.

So I agree with properly cutting your features in small manageable tasks and tracking them helps a lot.


Like Derek Sivers said, "If you're not saying 'HELL YEAH' about something, say 'No''"


I've recently started using GitHub projects for my personal projects, which works really well for me also. I try to focus on building things with tech that I really love and am curious about, and to ensure that my primary objectives aren't dependant on anybody else - i.e. learning/personal development, not money or approval.


By continuously thinking what if it worked and I'll be able to automate max of my things!!!!


Most of my side projects are writing, largely about tech (tutorials, reviews, all sorts of stuff). I stay motivated in a few ways. For one, my overall side projects (2x websites and a podcast) are things I'm very passionate about, so that helps.

Drilling down further, the articles I write and podcast episodes I record are a creative-first approach. I take an idea I'm excited about and research its potential to perform well, then decide if it's worth writing.

Having something outside of work that I control and work on which is a mix of professional and creative is really refreshing and empowering. Seeing pageviews or listens go up as I keep working on those side projects helps, as does affiliate commissions I earn. But overall, I think the main component is that I'm super passionate about my various side projects.


For me, I make sure I have a plan. I can plan to be at a certain level in terms of my skills in a specific number of months. I then pick a side project that will help me achieve my goal.

I know that to make progress in this aspect of my life, I need to achieve my goal. Since my side project(s) would help me do that, I know I must do them.

That's my motivation.


For me to stay motivated I spread news about my new project. I discuss with friends and dev groups on Slack or Discord. When I feel less motivated, there is always that one person who asks "how is your X app?" and it motivates me :D

Also I use trello to track daily tasks and divide huge things into small cases which I can deal with in one day or less.


I love the idea of keeping track of things using Github, reminds me a lot of Trello.

What motivates me is knowing that in order to compete with my peers, I have to constantly be self improving and working on stuff. If I sit around and never learn anything again, I won't move very far.

It's also very enriching to me as a person to keep working on side projects. It's something that I don't need a deadline for and something that I enjoy. With my side projects, I can make them as good or as bad as I want to. It's a good way to prove to myself how I've grown over the years.


Thanks for this. This is a great way to keep things organized. I've completely changed the way organize projects based on this post.


Glad I could help!


What keeps me motivated is that I always have something I want to do with the projects rather it is just some CSS or adding new components. Currently developing a chat app!