We, developers, love to build. It's in our DNA. Given free rein, we'll eagerly construct complex systems just to test our skills. But while technically stimulating, these "toy projects" done in a professional context can be detrimental.
On your own time, build whatever you want. But at work, restrain the urge to over-engineer, overbuild, or meander down rabbit holes. No matter how cool the tech is, if it doesn't align with business requirements, you're wasting precious time and resources.
The hard truth is most business leaders don't care about the elegance of your code or the complexity of your algorithms. They care about delivering business value. Fancy features or architectural flourishes that don't move the needle on product metrics are distractions.
So stay focused on building what matters to the product and customers. Refrain from overcomplicating things by adding unnecessary features. Refactor mercilessly to keep things lean. Align your work to iterative requirements, not theoretical use cases. Deliver pragmatically.
Great developers deliver the right capabilities at the right time. They don't churn out toys. Build what's needed today, not what might be interesting someday.
By maintaining deliberate focus, you will earn the respect of your managers and satisfy your customers.
What do you think? Have you seen toy project syndrome undermine delivery? What tips do you have for staying focused as a developer?
I'd love to hear your perspectives!