Side Project

The Importance of Side Projects and How to Start Your Journey

Numerous renowned products and companies, such as Slack, Twitter, Craigslist, Gmail, and Trello, originated as side projects. These endeavors, typically initiated outside regular work hours, take various forms and are often fueled by the desire to explore entrepreneurship, delve into new interests, or combat boredom.

If you’ve found yourself contemplating statements like:

  • “My job lacks the challenge it once had.”
  • “Everyone loves my idea, but I can’t quit my job to pursue it.”
  • “I wish to enhance this skill, but it’s not part of my job.”
  • “I aspire to shift into product design [or another role], but there are no opportunities at work.”

Know that seeking a new challenge, expanding your skill set, or pursuing an idea doesn’t necessitate abandoning your full-time job. Before delving into actionable tips on starting a side project, let’s briefly explore why dedicating time to develop one can be the most significant thing you do this year.

Side projects can enhance your well-being:

  • Opportunity for Learning: Lower-risk exploration of new skills.
  • Mental Health Boost: A creative escape from regular work.
  • Work Performance: Amplifies creativity and productivity.

Research published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology supports the positive impact of creative hobbies, aligning with the benefits derived from side projects.

Side projects expedite skill acquisition:

  • Diversification of Skills: Beyond daily job constraints.
  • Showcasing Capability: A platform to exhibit your capabilities to potential employers.

In a world where day jobs focus on immediate tasks, side projects provide a space for skill expansion and exhibit your capabilities beyond conventional work.

Side projects combat burnout and inspire:

  • Achievement Sense: Countering monotony and routine with a sense of accomplishment.
  • Productivity Impact: Beneficial for overall business productivity.

Acknowledging the perils of burnout, businesses recognize the value of providing time for personal projects. Google’s famed “20% time” initiative birthed significant products. While some companies may lack such policies, carving out personal time remains crucial.

Success Stories:

Numerous iconic products emerged from side projects, such as Slack, Khan Academy, and Oculus VR, attesting to the potential impact of dedicated personal endeavors.

How to initiate a side project:

  • Start Small:
    • Begin with a manageable project that doesn’t overshadow your day job.
    • Consider a minimum viable project, breaking down your initial idea into a simpler form.
  • Define Your Goals:
    • Clarify personal objectives, aligning with enjoyable tasks and marketable skill development.
  • Maintain Fun and Relaxed Atmosphere:
    • Ensure side projects remain enjoyable, preventing undue pressure.
    • Balance seriousness with a light-hearted approach to keep engagement high.

In essence, side projects thrive on passion, creativity, and the joy of the journey. While financial gains or portfolio enhancements are potential byproducts, the primary goal is to find fulfillment and enjoyment in the pursuit.

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