How do you finish your side projects?

David Tran
32 replies
As a developer, I have a lot of ideas for my side project. I eventually started some of them but sometimes I never really get it done. I think a lot of people have experienced the same with me. Can you share some tips to get your side projects done?


Greg Ludvickson
I don't finish them haha. Seriously though, I'm not a tech guy, so maybe this won't be useful to you. But I break my day down into a tight schedule. (e.g 6am wake up, have coffee; 6:30-7:30 Check emails/media to see whats going on for the day; 7:30-8:30 side projects, etc, etc). I do well with structure, but the pandemic has made certain things difficult. It's hard to switch off after work, for instance. But setting aside time where you're dedicated to other things is important -- to me at least. Even if that side project is just reading a book for fun. Hope this helps in some small way.
David Tran
@greg_ludvickson1 it is hard to follow a fixed schedule for me. Eg: I set time to read email from 7:00 to 7:30 but sometimes it takes more time to response to all emails.
Nathan Svirsky
Check out Deep Work by Cal Newport (good write up here it really shows how it important it is to go 'deep' to achieve your goals. What deep means is really up to you! Another quick fix, and something I've mentioned loads of times before is the Pomodoro technique ( to give yourself bite sized sprints that you can do on a consistent basis. You'll be amazed at how much you can achieve in 25minutes of solid work. Good luck mate!
John Smith
I don't finish them either...
Cica-Laure Mbappé
It's a struggle. Time management is crucial! I usually work on my side projects at night. I just finished one side project a few weeks ago and it took longer than I planned.
David Tran
@cica_laure_mbappe congrat on your project! I usually add more features into my side projects too, that's why they take more time then expected
Alex Dovhyi
@davidtranwd this is a great example of anyone in a creative field, I believe. I've been to these shoes myself - lot's of ideas, zero execution. What helped me was finding the person who actually did turn that side project into a profitable business. Lot's of similarity in our stories with that person gave me understanding that this can be possible for me, too. So I just made a commitment publicly (on my Instagram page) and finally delivered. It was a small product, but I was significant milestone for me.
Sharfunnisa Quadri
i will tell you if you promise to not question and just do it! do only the starter step. something like this - after i finish dinner - i will open github (or where ever you do your side project) .. and then celebrate!! you need that dopamine hit to tell your brain that it is a GOOD thing to login to github after finishing dinner. celebrate with a fistbump or whatever ... it is up to you that you dont code, and close git hub.. or stare at the blank screen or whatever... but do it every day. open github after finishing up dinner .. hope you get the point! let me know how it goes
Sharfunnisa Quadri
@dave_galbraith the big question is will you try it? may be you dont have a side project. but want to use it to build another habit. every morning as soon as i wake up i will put my jacket and running shoes on. and then celebrate. it is upto you. take off the shoes all you want ..dont go for run. but make sure you do the starter step. what else can you use this for?
David Tran
@sharfunnisa_quadri hey Sharfunnisa, thanks for your advice! I got your point. I usually work alone, how do I celebrate these little achivements?
Sharfunnisa Quadri
@davidtranwd awesome. self high 5. say I am the boss :). YESSSS!! my kids celebrate with a full-on fortnite dance routine - floss, orange justice and whatever they call it.. really the celebration is personal to you! how do you celebrate when your favorite team or player wins? - also not the wine and dessert celebration... i am talking about how you react the moment they win :) .. do just that ... and working alone with no one bothering you and calling out for - "can i tell you something?" every 45 seconds is such a great blessing some days.. haha
Glen Creaser
I recently hired a virtual assistant to do the tedious work - cheap and effective. Gives me motivation to keep pushing with it as well.
Max Mayoubi
As for me, I do only the "must have" things from the previously created list. At night, of course.. like everyone, I think)..
Azzen Abidi
Have you looked at the 4 tendencies by Gretchen Rubin( Each person reacts differently to both internal and external expectations. We all experience the side project syndrome with various degrees. My biggest learning has been that accountability is crucial to make progress. You need a process/workflow to stay on track. I know side projects are supposed to be fun but what makes makers in general standout is that they show up every day and do the work even if they don't feel like it. That's the beauty of having a strong sense of discipline. The latest product I was part of needed +300 hours (writing a toolkit for remote teams post pandemic) and believe me it was not always easy. I would also say distractions disrupts our flow. You might wanna check out our future of enterprise collaboration framework.
milan maheshwari
Usually during nights, weekends. Though it's hard to manage energy more than time. My side-projects always take longer to finish than I assume initially.
David Tran
@milan_maheshwari1 sure, we usually find more problems that need to solve when working on the projects
My side projects contain the components of the larger project. For example, came into existence to teach me how to launch a PWA. The lessons learned went applied directly to Now that I've found a way to publish PWAs to the App Store and Play Store, I'll apply the cycle once more.
Zack Sheppard
First side project I have ever finished I wrapped up last week ( I got through it by making it small enough that I could do it in a month. I think in the past my motivation has lasted about 3 weeks and then sputters out - if I could size projects to get to MVP in that time, then I could more of them out the door.
David Barneda
Do something you enjoy and make it part of your daily routine
Jonathan Amsili
If you're not willing to spend your evenings/weekends on the side project, then you're probably not passionate enough, and therefore it isn't worth it :)
Stefan Manku
An interesting challenge many relate to... a few questions for you: 1. Are you working on one side project at a time or multiple? 2. What's the end goal/aim of doing side projects? 3. Are you clear on what done looks like for your projects? Or is it a never ending developing loop?
Arsh Singh
I try to commit to 2 hours a weekend and 1 hour a weeknight. The weeknights I hit my goal are few and far between, but I usually hit the weekend goal, and I have seen the progress. The pandemic has taught me to go easier on myself and be realistic about my timelines. Start slow and tack on more time when you can. Every project is different, but so far, this has worked for me.
Caleb Skinner
It takes a tremendous amount of time and dedication to finish a 'side' project. I try and break everything down into task using JURI or something like that. I determine the number of hours and then double them. If I want to make that kind of commitment to the project I proceed. I really think that 'side' projects need to be viewed just like any other sort of project. If you want to finish them you have to set aside the time... I took a bunch of personal time to finish mine. Good luck!
Daniel Hall
Never, but I should haha
Andrew Isherwood
Build it with someone, but have your own areas you work on. Otherwise, I find you either clash or get hung up on trivial details. And start with the most minimal of MVPs