Building sideprojects as a dad with a fulltime job

rallipi profile image Ralf πŸ’₯πŸ”₯β˜„οΈ ・3 min read

4 years ago I was a university student, didn't have children and no fulltime job. I had a lot of free time. I have been building sideprojects since I was 15 years old. I started making little browsergames back then. Nothing big and without the intention of making money with them . It was just for learning purposes and for having fun.
In university this changed a little bit. I really had the intention of making money with my projects. But as I had basically as much time as I wanted. I was procrastinating all day long. I started countless projects and finished absolutely none of them. Interests were changing way too fast and I started a new one as soon as the basic setup for the last one was complete.
But I didn't care. I didn't have any pressure to complete anything and I didn't need the money.

Fast forward 4 years:

I have a 3 year old daughter and a full time job. The time I can dedicate to sideprojects is very rare because I have other hobbies too and I have to keep myself away from computer screens sometimes in order to not burn out.
I often felt kind of a pressure to work on my side projects when I had free time because I knew that this is the only time I have and if I let it pass, it's gone.
This got worse and worse until I finally had kind of a mind switch. I told myself that I don't have to work on stuff when I'm not feeling like it and that it's absolutely no problem to take some days off if I feel stressed.
Slow progress is still progress. I still want to work on my projects regularly but without any pressure.
And this was when it ticked for me. I set priorities for the work I wanted to get done on my sideprojects and used the time I spend on them more efficiently. I stopped switching frameworks like crazy and settled with what I already knew. I noticed pretty quickly that this really made me more productive and that my projects progressed quicker. Which motivated me even more to work on them.

So I ended up being more productive with less time spend on the projects. I finished 4 (small) sideprojects in 2019, which is more than I ever released before.
I'm currently working on a bigger project again but I'm following the same principles plus I share what I'm working on publicly which is a huge motivation boost too.

I know there a lot of parents working on sideprojects that don't feel the pain I felt, but I also know that there are a lot of indie hacker parents out there that are struggling for the exact same reasons. I know that this isn't the ultimate formula that works for everybody. But taking everything a little more relaxed and not stressing out about progress is something that will not hurt anybody. Perhaps it even increases productivity.

I'm currently sharing a lot of insights about me building a pretty big project (a javascript framework with integrated backend) on twitter. If you want to connect, just let me know.

Posted on Jun 6 by:

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Ralf πŸ’₯πŸ”₯β˜„οΈ


Hi I'm Ralf! I love programming. fitness and helping other devs!


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I totally get you. I became a farther myself 8 months ago. Before that I already loved programming and working on sideprojects , bust most of the time I procrastinated big time. Surprisingly, after I became a farther, I felt the need to do more, but of course I have less time for it to do it. I still often struggle to decide what I should do in the short quiet time I have during the day : chill or work.