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How Do You Balance Passion Projects & Professional Commitments?

Finding the time to make meaningful contributions (like making time for open-source contributions!) while juggling professional commitments can be a real challenge. How do you strike a balance between personal passion projects and the demands of your day jobs?

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Top comments (9)

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theaccordance profile image
Joe Mainwaring • Edited

One technique I will do when I'm trying to give the appropriate amount of time to a side project is to detail out what my weekly schedule looks like.

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I keep things fairly top-level with hour blocks of time and mark them by the most important activity during that time block (ex: feed cat). I can then evaluate which time blocks are necessary (ex: sleep, mandatory meetings, gym classes, chemo appointments, Warzone Squad Night 😎), which blocks are negotiable (mid-day nap, HBO, PBS NewsHour), and what blocks are currently free.

It's worth nothing - the goal isn't to have every moment in time completely accounted for, I purposely keep some blocks empty just to decompress, avoid burnout, and have a life outside of coding.

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danbailey profile image
Dan Bailey

This is similar to how I have to do things -- between professional demands, personal projects, training for cycling, parenting, it all adds up and quickly. I generally have a similar schedule to yours because it's the only way I'll ever get everything done (I combine it with Todoist, which has been a life-saver).

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ralphhightower profile image
Ralph Hightower

Time blocking is a great idea. I hope that you've kicked the cancer.

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rachelfazio profile image
Rachel Fazio

Wow so thorough! Love this.

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy πŸŽ–οΈ

Work during work hours, personal projects during personal hours. How else would you do it?

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j3ffjessie profile image
J3ffJessie

I struggle with this 100%. I have the want to work on side projects, but after work all I want to do is spend time with my family and take care of the house. Need to take some tips from @theaccordance and outline my week ahead of time to put some time on the calendar to work on things and stick to it.

It’s definitely difficult for some of us to manage work and side projects without burning out. Hoping I can commit to a plan soon and get some side projects going.

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mihneasim profile image
Mihnea Simian

In my job-hours I try to spot topics related to what I enjoy most in engineering and leadership. It's easier than you think, once you build the habit.

I'm at the point I can not afford to invest in a parallel delivery project. But that doesn't mean I do not find meaningful chunks of work for me, inside the canvas of my job.
Why?

Because overlap helps.

I take these topics outside of working hours, just like I would go out to walk my dog (I don't have a doggo :D though I wouldn't mind walking one). And I do find opportunities to read, learn, code, document, write. But yeah, they're small chunks, easy to deliver in 1-3 hours sprints, as a (weekly?) habit. I couldn't find room for a personal project that requires expensive maintenance, without troubling my other non-coding related activities - family, friends, working out, running, reading literature, playing videogames etc.

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ralphhightower profile image
Ralph Hightower

What's done at work is work. What I do outside of work is my time. I got inspiration from a Microsoft blog post announcing VSTO, Visual Studio Tools for Office, that provides the ability to read/write Office files and interact with the Office applications.
Hmmm... Read an Excel file that has events and create events in Outlook's calendar. Perfect! I'll create a Windows file that reads NASA Excel files that they published for the Space Shuttle's missions. I published the code on Microsoft's now decommissioned CodePlex website.

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webbureaucrat profile image
webbureaucrat

Managing the potential for burnout is important. I limit myself to one commit per day on personal projects because I know I need non-screen time if I want to be rested for work.