Working on side-project is designed to bring a richness to your life, because of the sheer variety of things that it makes you engage with.
But, this also causes a challenge.
In your day job, you wear an employee hat, while you wear multiple ranges of hats in your spare time when you are coding for your side-project when you are working through bringing new signups or when you are sending email replies to your customer.
How does this play on our mental clarity and focus?
What exactly is focus? Focus is defined by the experts as the ability to concentrate on an activity of interest or importance while ignoring other things.
Multitasking is the opposite of focus.
Momentum and long-term results come from focusing on one thing for a long period of time.
You are highly motivated when you start your side project, all is new and exciting. Self-discipline will not suffice to keep you going by the time your motivation gets challenged. The new will wear off, things will go wrong. You will be tempted to give up because you simply can.
How do you keep momentum into your side-project?
Here is a compilation of things developers have found useful in this:
Make sure you can’t give up, not without shame. Publish a blog about your project and you create an audience. Small, but with high expectations that you set. Oops, you can’t silently back out now.
Finding a partner can help keep each of you accountable and help motivate each other as you continue the project.
Making money while building out your project is also a great motivator to keep chugging along.
If you find that you lose motivation or get bored with a side project then you really need to ask yourself why you are doing it.
We find the time and energy for those things that we place importance on. If the project isn’t important to you then maybe it is time to move on. If it is important and this is just a temporary state – perhaps due to hitting a difficult part or a bit you don’t enjoy dealing with – you need a strategy.
Break it down into manageable chunks. Put a date on them. Make sure however that the dates are achievable; there is no better way to become demotivated than to constantly feel you are falling behind.
Treat the project as a first class citizen alongside your other work. Meaning that even if you can only devote 4 hours a week to it, those 4 hours are scheduled and used. Don’t push them out for other work. Plan what you will do in that time, ahead of time, so you don’t start to procrastinate when you sit down.
You will lose steam at some point. Go with the flow; take a break, try something else, come back to what matters.
View your side projects as the main work, and anything else as merely a way of supporting them.
Have enough side projects that if you lose interest in one you can switch to another.
Go to the zoo and look at the animals there. Have you ever seen an animal (lions, leopards, elephants) in the wild? It is completely different. It is the same with people.
You get energized about your side project when you get suggestions, comments, or other feedback from users.
Surround yourself with people you wanted to become. It’s really hard to do stuff on your own, become friends with smarter people.
One thing that works is to get lots of external feedback on the project. If at least one other person besides yourself has some interest/investment in your project you are a lot more inclined to continue working on it. Ship quickly and get users.
Loads of coffee.
How do you push yourself to work on your side-project, when you don’t feel like?
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