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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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When do you work on your side projects?

If you are working on anything on the side... How do you organize your time on the project? Is it explicit time on evenings or weekends, or just "when you have a moment"?

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damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset • Edited

I'm more of a "when I have a moment" type of person. Although, I'm convinced I would be a lot more productive if I decided to spend a predefined block of time.

Whenever I decide to do that, I feel a lot more productive. There is a sense of urgency. I know I have 30 minutes, or an hour or 2 hours to work on my project. I have to make progress during that block of time. I feel a lot more focused.

"When I have a moment" takes away the importance of it, I feel. If it's not important enough to have a dedicated spot on my schedule, why would I have to focus on it and work on that project for weeks or months on end?

With that said, I struggle to consistently set out a block of time for my projects...

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker • Edited

Whenever I decide to do that, I feel a lot more productive. There is a sense of urgency. I know I have 30 minutes, or an hour or 2 hours to work on my project. I have to make progress during that block of time. I feel a lot more focused.

That's true... When you say making progress in that time.

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vyckes profile image
Kevin Pennekamp

With a new born I often wake up very early, and am a little bored (my wife does the morning shift). Instead starting early with working (I have standard calls later in the day) I work on side projects. In the evenings and weekends, my wife and I sometimes decide to do something for ourselves. So either I'll do some gaming, or work on a side project.

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dinakar profile image
Dinakar

That's very interesting..how you manage your time with the new born and your professional life and personal life ? Being father of a new born,I find it very difficult to do my side projects and even learning..even writing my first post on dev took such a considerable time which I finally accomplished today

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vyckes profile image
Kevin Pennekamp

Only take aways I can give you:

  • Break down what you want to do in small sizes. Do this for writing, coding, research, designing. I use an application called todoist to create lists of what I want to do. Even articles are broken down in multiple smaller todos (research, sections to write, proofread, social media sharing after publish). These sizes make it easier to do it in lets say 30 minutes.
  • Dont put deadlines on your side projects... Babies dont allow it and it only adds stress
  • Throw away when you loose your interest. I have several drafts or outlines for articles. I got excited about a subject, wanted to write an article about them. But then.... I did not have enough time and lost interest. Maybe I am gonna write them. But for now, i am going to leave them. Forcing myself to finish them will not be benificial for my state of mind.
  • Do it for yourself, not for others. I did a refactor of my website with almost no visual updates, and it gave me a lot of energy and motivation. Feel happy with every accomplishment, even when its only a part of a whole. You probably learned something or improved something!

But don't let me fool you with this list. It is freakin' hard! The most important thing is to never feel disappointed or demotivated when its not working out. Its not your family or your job, its just a side project.

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endymion1818 profile image
Ben Read

Yep! I have three under 6, getting any time for side projects is a very challenging thing. I think Kevin nailed it with that list!

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dinakar profile image
Dinakar

Hey Kevin,

Thanks for the pointers.
I believe learning is everywhere and this is one such important learning for me.. highly appreciate your takeaways πŸ‘

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

I work on my side projects all the time ❀️. If I find an hour spare I might research, develop, explore a new feature 🧐.

If a side project isn't going to be monetized πŸ₯Ί then it gets saved as a browser tab. I do tend to periodically go through my tabs and continue from where I left off.

I just completed an MLP for a client and I'm growing my service offerings. I've schedule 2 calls today which both relate to side projects.

I just finished some research on the jam stack. My question wasn't answered. And and I'm considering whether the jam stack is the appropriate framework to use.

I organise my time just like anybody else 🀸 a to-do list, github issues, a calendar. But no notepad no post it notes, I go for a more eco-friendly approach and keep things digital.

Just as I'm writing this one of the people that I needed to speak to on a call has rescheduled to tomorrow the same time 🧘.

So now with that time spare, an hour, I find myself thinking about another side project which is a Flutter project, not founded by myself but as I've volunteered to help... I wonder if I should go about implementing a new feature that is needed.

I opted to charge my πŸ”‹.

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unthrottled profile image
Alex Simons • Edited

I don't have anything better to do so I just work on my projects before and after work. I have a dedicated two 2 hour time blocks (pomodoro) on weekdays. I also try to take an easy day turning the weekend where I don't work so hard.

I have a side project that I built that keeps track of how I spend my time:

sogos.unthrottled.io/dashboard/alex

By design it's not very mobile friendly πŸ˜…

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

I have a side project that I built that keeps track of how I spend my time:

Neat! It's the meta side project.

What's the process like for logging this input?

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unthrottled profile image
Alex Simons

Ah! So SOGoS itself is a progressive web app (the dashboard is just not built for mobile view). So it has a built in pomodoro timer, that I use to break my chunks of side project work into.

So that works fine but the timer does not work when I put my phone to sleep. So I forklifted all my React code into a React Native app. Which allows me to get notifications when my phone is asleep.

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

Believe it or not I have never built a to-do list. I do have an app that I build when I learn a new language just to see how it works. And I also advised people that I've worked with in the past to use the same project idea.

@ben I'd like to put a bounty on the answer to the app I always build. Are there $5 credit vouchers on Dev.to?

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kokaneka profile image
kapeel kokane

I personally create 3 types of content. Videos for my Youtube Channel which spans over 4-5 sessions of 1 hour each per video. I plan for each session well in advance. Then there's my dev.to articles which I can complete in a 2 hour on/off session. And then there's my sketchnotes,


which takes about 1 hour to complete that I try to fit into my day whenever I get time.
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dinakar profile image
Dinakar • Edited

I ❀️ the sketchnotes concept.
What you use for it ? How you are developing it ? Using any specific app or website ?

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kokaneka profile image
kapeel kokane

Thanks. I use excalidraw and figma.

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dinakar profile image
Dinakar

Your contents are so amazing that I started following you on twitter.. Kudos buddy..I am so eagerly waiting for your further sketchnote πŸ€žπŸ‘

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kokaneka profile image
kapeel kokane

Thank you so much for the kind words. Do share my work with others who might also be interested, Batman!

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Suzanne Aitchison

I used to schedule time but I felt a bit like I was on a path to burnout, and also the scheduling made it feel more like a second job tbh. So now it's just when I have a moment & feel like it. And it's brought a lot of the joy back for me! 🌈

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Edwin

Most of the time it's just in the evening hours, if I still have any motivation left after a long work day. On the other hand, if I have not been coding for a while (long weekend/holidays) I get this feeling that I want to build something. Then, if I get inspired by something or have a cool idea in my head, I get in this flow state while coding where I completely lose track of time and everything around me (I may have forgotten about dinner once or twice).

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

I love flow state 🀸

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msfjarvis profile image
Harsh Shandilya

Weekends are generally the time when I get the most done in side projects, but I do general triaging and relatively smaller fixes all throughout the week. Timing within the day varies somewhat but it's always after work hours since context switching essentially destroys my productivity.

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Bernard Baker

I rarely triage to be honest. Unless there is a dependency from one issue to another. I scroll to the bottom and work my way up.

I find context switching more refreshing because you get to let go of the current way of thinking.

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msfjarvis profile image
Harsh Shandilya

I too believe LRU's a good way of working through issues, but with my current "side" (who am I kidding) project, there's issues and feature requests stretching back to 3 years ago that were legitimate but the previous maintainers just didn't have the bandwidth to address. Because of this, I have to resort to a two-pronged approach where I work the backlog down by resolving them in LRU order, and simultaneously ensure that new issues being added to the end of the queue are also addressed as quickly as possible to strike a healthy balance between fixing "legacy" problems and addressing new feedback. We also switched to a new develop/release model where issues need to be tagged with the backport label to indicate that the fix for it is critical and we need to make an out of schedule patch release to address it so triaging becomes especially important. And it's just something productive to do to pass away the time :D

Re: context switching, I'm a bit torn about how I feel. On one hand, going back and forth between things seems to make me bad at both. On the other hand, I agree with your observation that switching provides you an oppurtunity to reset and break out of your current mindset so you can return to the problem with a fresh approach that hopefully let's you resolve it quickly.

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

an oppurtunity to reset and break out of your current mindset so you can return to the problem with a fresh approach that hopefully let's you resolve it quickly.

It does help.

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Rose

When I have a moment and feel the urge. I definitely treat it as a passion thing: if I feel the passion I jump in and work as hard as I can for a few days in every spare second I have. If not then I play video games or scroll through Twitter or doodle in my journal. I never force myself to work on side projects. I don't need any more "you must" responsibility in my life, I have enough already!

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

That's interesting. I often try to reduce the number of projects I work on. And I can't imagine how many ideas I've had for different projects.

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Stephanie Morillo

I set up time boxes for everything related to side projects and generally spread them out in the weekday evenings and on one weekend day. I like saving Saturdays for doing absolutely nothing as a way of recharging my batteries.

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Melanie Phillips

Love this idea!

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elasticrash profile image
Stefanos Kouroupis

Always at night 23.00 to 01.00 ....family and work does not leave much time.

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

I sometimes do the same thing but start early.

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krishna kakade

Nowadays i am giving full time to projects and learning but before lockdown I go to college regularly morning 8PM to 5PM and then i came to home about 6:30PM(regularly i have to walk for 10KM because college to bus stand walks but that is good for health becz i didn't exercise means no gym) then after doing all things i hardly give my 1 to 2 hours but nowadays i can work whole day. and i always do things which i like that is cool. and i am good.

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

I envy your walk.

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muhimen123 profile image
Muhimen

As a hobbyist, all my projects are side projects. So, simple answer ALWAYS.

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

Lol

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Vikram Chaudhary • Edited

I don't work specifically on any side projects. But I try to keep my self updated and write articles for my blog. With two small kids in the house I don't find any time in the whole day. I get up early and dedicate one hour to my learning and writing.

As I have to keep writing interesting and useful stuff for my blog, I cannot skip learning and updating myself.

Morning is the best time when everyone is asleep and the motivation level is generally high in comparison to any other time of the day.

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Reaper

The normal plan is always to do it on weekends but at times I see a bug while using whatever I build and I'll instantly move onto it if I've got the time and fix it.
I started using the Github web editor so much because of this habit of mine.