Finding Appropriate Side Projects

Time is our one major limited resource and so it’s important how we decide to use it.  One of the biggest questions we ask ourselves as developers is often what kind of cool stuff could we do on evenings and weekends.

Here are my considerations for any side projects that I feel are worth saying ‘yes’ to.

  • It should align with your broader goals
  • It should ideally provide an incremental step towards those goals
  • It should be fun and interesting
  • It should have a number of quick wins
  • It should be something that you can’t or won’t get experience with during work hours

One thing to consider is conflicts with your job.  It would suck to be working on a passion project at night and find the need to hide it from co-workers and your boss or risk some sort of discipline. Co-workers can be great sounding boards and strong supporters of your success with these personal projects and it’s awesome to be able to take advantage of that.

The key to being one of those people who seems to get a lot of stuff done is to be continually walking in the same direction rather than running scattered from place to place.  It’s not as easy as it sounds.  There’s always a new hot idea to pursue or a reason to give up on the project you haven’t yet finished.  For that reason it is good to pick a project that hits as many checkboxes as possible for you and that you believe you can see through to the end.