Finding Time for Side Projects: How to Get The Enthusiasm Back

Many of us – those who graduated and got a job – started losing the enthusiasm and energy we once had in college. Looking back at the days where we dreamed of the graduation day to be FREE and do what we want, suddenly we found ourselves stuck in a 9 to 5 job, spending hours in traffic, going home doing nothing or at best sitting in cafes smoking Shisha and playing cards.

I can’t deny it is so hard not to be dragged in the system, I know work is energy drainer, but let’s also face it, YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE & you don’t want to waste your life going to work at 9, leaving at 5 while there are so many great things you can do. I will try to tell you what I do to keep my enthusiasm and work on my side projects.

Disclaimer: I don’t claim I always succeed, but at least I am trying.

finding time for side projects

What & How?

  • Follow top state of the art tech projects to always be inspired with great ideas
    One way to do this is to search and have a daily rss feed that gets summarized to your inbox, my way of doing it is by creating a twitter account and following ONLY top tech people and sites, this way I get less tweets on my timeline than my personal account and I keep up with the latest things.
  • Look at the world as if it is broken
    I don’t mean to be negative here, what I mean is there is always a way or a place for improvement. When was the last time you thought of a new feature or product idea and few days/weeks/months later you found it implemented? This helps stimulate your brain and makes you a better analytical/futuristic person.
  • Always have a list of projects you want to work on
    I used to have a small notebook where I write down ideas but I always ignored it once I am home, so I created a new trello board and stared adding my projects there. This makes me more capable of tracking my progress.
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For the first time I am revealing my list:

1.) Compliment your skills by working with others

  • You are not alone, there are so many other people out there looking to work on cool things, and they don’t have a companion to work with them.
  • Always look around for people like them, and have some conversations about their desires so you can know if you will fit together. If you choose someone make sure they have three things
  • They want to learn a new thing (Hunger for learning is a great motivator to keep them to the end of the project).
  • They can & will learn new things and dive deeply.
  • They are passionate about things you can’t do, if you are a developer, find a designer, if you are a designer, find a developer.
  • Always compliment your skills, not replicate them.

 

Tip: I find majority of those are among students, there are so many great talents with great enthusiasm and hunger for learning. The two main drawbacks are time management, and of course you have to mentor them and make sure they are learning. Also remember to treat them FAIRLY because they are not free labor, they are partners.

2.) Be Agile and Iterative

  • When you get a new idea for an app or a website, write the list of features you want to have in this app. Split it into tasks. A good way to do it is to use Asana to organize the tasks. Check in the picture how I listed the tasks for a recipes app I wanted to make. Ask yourself: If I will release one feature what would it be? And remove everything else from release 1.0.
  • Start small, and grow because guess what? No one will use what you will build. Once we are excited about new ideas, we get pumped with so many questions like, is it done already? Will people use it? Shall I do surveys? What’s my marketing strategy? Should I have a business plan?…etc
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“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
― Henry Ford.

You will not know the answer to any of these questions until you release. And most of the times you will fail, but that’s life.

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” – Confucius

Finally, learn from your mistakes and try to document them for others.

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