It’s been a year since I am working on one of my product idea and finally was able to open a waitlist for that. The idea isn’t that complicated which took me to reach this point, but it was the struggle of managing a full-time job, daily routine and this side project. This one year was full of roller coasters where many times I felt like giving up on this side project.
There are some tips which I wish if I had known before a year, it would be a different journey. Also, I could have saved so much of time. But nevertheless, these things might be helpful for you and can save your efforts to deliver efficiently.
So, let’ dive in -
1. Create strict time boundaries for your office hours and side project hours.
This is the MOST important part of working on a side project. Since the pandemic, all our work has shifted to home and it has a big disadvantage of not having time boundaries. I realised this after 5-6 months of working from home and then started setting the office hours strictly.
If I start from 10 in the morning, I make sure I should not do office work after 7 in evening. With that, I can always spare at least an hour daily for side projects. Obviously your office time and schedule will be different, but the point is, have boundaries clearly defined for both of them! It will keep you pretty much sorted, trust me on that 😁
2. Set small targets for every week
It is always said, 1% progress is still a progress. Follow that rule constantly. I always feel that we are able to accomplish our office tasks because of the targets we get, it may be the piled up JIRA tickets, daily sync-ups or status reports. But because we keep targets and keep track of them, it becomes easier to do that much work. Just apply the same strategy for your side project. Considering how busy or free your week is, you can set a task list or a small (achievable) target for your side project. Chasing that target will be fun and you will end up winding up something every week.
3. Don’t rush for perfection, it is overrated!
This is for everyone, working on anything!! Feedback loop will end up in nothing. Always remember, you will have enough time to improve it later than making it perfect now! I used to feel proud of being obsessive about perfections and now I realise how dumb I was 🙈. I don’t want to offend any perfectionist out there, but that is something which has never worked for me.
Let me explain! Suppose you are working on a simple web page, where you have spent a week on just making a perfect navbar, super fun animated, responsive and very good looking navbar! But after a week, there is a high possibility that you will lose interest in finishing the rest of the webpage. This will never give you anything in your kitty to feel proud about. But if you finish the average looking webpage first and then work on improving it, you will always have something to show! Perfection is subjective! Every working product is perfect in its concerns, never forget that!
4. Even 15 minutes of effort counts.
Sometimes it's a busy week, sometimes some family responsibilities or sometimes you just don’t feel like doing anything and this is all okay! Take your own time. What matters is taking consistent efforts. There are many times when I am too occupied with my office work that I feel tired. On such days, I make sure to do something related to my side project that will not burden me too much. It might be planning the next tasks, writing down remaining features, creating a tweet to post later or anything small and lighter. But I make sure to work on something relatable. This will give you satisfaction of keeping it going even in difficulties! Small but consistent efforts are definitely going to pay you. It may take some time, but it guarantees that it will happen!
5. Do small releases!
I learnt this lately, but this is super beneficial! Celebrating small wins is such an underrated term that we forget to apply it for our own. We work in a team of 3 people, and everyone has different responsibilities. But we still make sure to have small demos and internal releases every week. Doesn't matter if it is just a verbose change, what matters is the delivery! Your one demo, one small release, will make you feel like an achievement and give you the motivation and energy to keep going, which is very important!
During the past one year, so many times I started and stopped working on this side project. But after applying these tips, I am able to work on it consistently since the past 4 months.
While working on something other than your office work, you break the monotony, be creative, take challenges and learn a lot! This will obviously make your life more busy and you will have to sacrifice some of your me time, family time, but trust me, in the end, it's worth the effort.
In case you are wondering what I am working on, it’s all about creating your single work profile! We have opened our waitlist and would really appreciate it if you can take a look at our website, join us and give us some feedback.
You can share your comments/feedback here and I would love to know about your passion projects too! You can also connect with me on Twitter or buy me a coffee if you like my articles.
Do share and keep learning! 🙌
Cover image illustration by icons8
Top comments (42)
I heard once "Don't worry about reaching perfection, you'll never get there anyway," and really liked that quote.
Great post about having realistic expectations of ourselves and our time, and I love the idea behind Peerlist! Cheers! 🍻
I had a manager once tell me “perfect is the enemy of done”, and that helped me out a lot. Whichever saying makes you realise that perfection isn’t your immediate goal will help you focus on what actually matters.
Perfect quote on "Perfection".
I learnt this the hard way. Thank God for growth.
Well quoted on perfection. I every time used see myself falling for that perfection loop until I made conscious efforts on that. And thank you for checking out Peerlist. It means a lot when you are working hard on something!!
Additionally, whatever project it is you are building on the side, be sure you do enough research on what it is that will be needed for the app (Front end interface framework, back end framework and language, performance requirements, server deployment, database, etc.) so that you can map out how the app will be built and which tools will be needed, saving you time and reducing risk of having to make huge changes mid-project.
Cannot agree more! Selecting the correct technology and tools reduces the odds of failing later. So better to make early wise decisions.
Good point to add in the list 🙌
Unless you're just starting out as a developer, then no, you should not spend time upfront on research because "enough research" is not quantifiable. You might never know when you did enough research. No matter the project, you always have multiple options for the tech stack and the architecture. This can easily lead to feeling overwhelmed and unsure about which to choose and become a blocker that leas to procrastination. Of course, you can do reasearch here and there as you're building the product, but that should never be done as a big effort before you've written a single line of code.
Focus should always be on the solution you're building not the means (tools, tech stack) of achieving it. Any investor and successful startup founder would tell you that you should not fall in love with your MVP and should use whatever tech stack you're comfortable with to finish as fast as you can. Once you finished the first version and start getting users and feedback, then you can start improving and even make "huge" changes. No matter which stack you choose, there will always be huge changes if your product is successful. Talk to any company you want that has built successful products. Some had to build the product multiple times from scratch to achieve a successful version 1 and that is fine.
2, 3, and 4 are the ones I relate to the most. Great reminder that, as I read somewhere, as much as we wan't to treat our brains as machines they are meat and water that have specific needs. Keep it up!
Number 3 is so important. There is no perfect state for any app, game, or website. There will always be varying opinions and stuff to improve based on them. 😉
Yes, as I said perfection is subjective. What seems perfect to me may be mediocre for you. So better to find early balance and improve continuously.
Nowadays that most of us are working from home the "Create strict time boundaries for your office hours and side project hours." I think this is the most important thing.
Lately I findvery difficult to separate both worlds because at the end of the day you are sitting in the same place with the same hardware and even doing similar things. It used to be easier to grab the laptop and go outside to have a real difference doing your side projects, now it's more of a mental decision than a physical one.
As for "Don’t rush for perfection, it is overrated!" I think all developers have this "problem" for me it was useful to pursue 80% of the quality I aim to achieve with the product, it helps you to be able to move projects forward and get things done.
Very good article and very cool idea of the Peerlist website.
It is really difficult to separate things sitting on the same desk in a same environment! But as you said, finding solution on that will make us better everyday!! I am glad that this article helped you in some way!
And also, thank you for checking Peerlist!
This website is same like. How to work on your side project while studying as 12-Class-Student. This is an amazing post I read this week. All the points were amazing but I would really be on the 2nd and 3rd. I have always struggled to make my project perfect but perfect is not always good.
Amazing post tho..
Perfection is good to achieve when you have something in your hand. But till that moment, just keep perfection on lowest priority. I have learnt it hard way and just wanted to help some people not to do same mistakes as mine!
Thank you for your kind words on the article! I am glad it helped :)
Hello Yogini Bende,
thank you for your article! I enjoyed reading it :)!
I have some opinions to share on some topics in your article.
"3. Don’t rush for perfection, it is overrated!"
I agree and want to add that clean coding or let's say a structured and consistent project at every level is well worth the time. This will help make it easy for every team member understanding and working on the project.
"5. Do small releases!"
I love this one, because I can relate :).
As someone who’ve been jumping from a job to pandemic unemployment to another full-time job and have inadvertently left my projects (my babies!) unmaintained for a full YEAR, I really appreciate posts like this.
Recently I’ve been trying to get back into the game, and for me it’s point #3 that was really dragging me down (as in, I’d think about how I should plan this “perfectly” and then and only then, would I go and implement stuff).
It’s really toxic, and combined with #4/5, I found that breaking things down into SUPER tiny, nested tasks helps - I can still satisfy my irrational need for things to be “perfect” the first time around, while still feeling like I don’t have to climb Mt. Everest every time I want to make a slight progress in my projects :)
Absolutely! Taking one day at a time, one step at a time!!
Do share your projects.. would love to see. All the best!!
Sometimes I feel like everybody at my job sees me like “crazy to go home” when my shift has ended. While they stay 15min passed the schedule without any rush, or even more. I’m the first leaving everyday when the clock hits 5:00pm. But let’s consider this: it takes me 45min to get back home, like an hour at least to do the things you have to do on a daily basis (walk the dog, dinner, etc), and then that leaves me with around 2h-3h of spare time if I get lucky. And by the time I’m ready for coding I really have to push forward because at that point I’m exhausted.
It’s a grind for such daily small progress.
We have to sacrifice something if we want to do some great thing!
I know this because when everyone enjoys a weekend we feel its a great time to work! But I guess this small progress and these smaller wins will lead us somewhere. Let's keep doing it.. more and more 🙌
Совершенство. Как много заложено в этом слове, Сколько людей столько мнений ,но знаю одно когда ты учишься водить машину ты это делаешь не спеша и при этом стараешся соблюдать правила. Проходит время и твои старания не проходят даром .
Thanks so much for the helpful article!
I mostly just use project management software and keep track of my tasks and deadlines, I never really thought about how I should do it.
I use Quire to manage my tasks and a timer to time myself.
I have found this post very very much helpful, inspirational, motivational and learning rich post.
I am also doing a side project, but I have issue chosing frontend theme for Angular.
Can you please provide some help how to chose best design UI and good designer?
I have shortlisted two: Material and Tailwind. One is free the other is paid but I am looking for the quality. I want to know your thoughts and would be very thankful if you please like to become my mentor...
Please answer and help me in this regard.
Thanks you so much...
I am a big fan of Tailwind. So would definitely suggest you to go with it.
Too much negativity for perfection in the comments made me write this. Yes, true, striving for perfection won't help you get it done. That is also the beauty of it. A work of art is never complete but it lives.
If I work on a side project, it would be to lose myself in it. True learning would also come when there is freedom to experiment without any limits. The product may not finish, but you continue to add to your knowledge every moment you spend on it.
To demonstrate my ability to meet deadlines, I have my daily job.
Thank you so much for this post/ Hope i can use these tips. I feel they are what i was waiting for for the last few years to manage my pet project.
Glad to help you in some way! 😇
That's it. There you wrote two important points.
I can really dig into what you have to say in this article. It was a good one.
And if you are wondering what consistency can bring you. Here you go:
The importance of writing a technical article consistently. ✍️
Vaibhav Khulbe ・ Dec 25 '20 ・ 6 min read
I have already read that article few days back and I completely understand what you said there. Consistent efforts in the key and there is no substitute for that!