You can't wait to start. The first 10% is awesome. 10-40% is complex and the difficulty ramps up. 40-100%, all you can think about is starting over on something else. At around 80%, you just quit and actually do start over.
One of the reasons people do side projects is that they want to be free of other concerns that govern larger projects, like being able to make money, existing code, design or frameworks, or simply, existing paths of thought. But after the 80% point, the project has already created its own ways of thinking about certain problems, and that means you'll have to solve some problems suboptimally just to retain the existing body of problems being solved optimally.
Compromises. Boring-but-important bits, like designing, coding (HTML tables ahoy) and sending launch emails, which I did, the whole day yesterday.
I think as a society we fundamentally underestimate how much the average person yearns for freedom, all day, every day. Selling that freedom has its benefits, but it's not a free lunch.
I am now very excited to go back to the 9-5 grind.
Once you realise that, you also figure out that doing your own thing doesn't inherently buy you a seat in Valhalla by the virtue of being your own boss. You still have a boss, the fact that it is you helps with fewer things than one would think.
At least you got funded. I'm still bootstrapped, spending my own money for the privilege. :)
The best move my founder and I ever made, by leaps and bounds, was to not take any outside investment. If you can manage your cash flow and not get over excited about rocket trajectory growth, bootstrapping has its benefits; for founders especially.
Basically, a passion product, something I want to see exist. It has the chance to sustain me eventually, but I think I’ll run out of savings long before it comes there, unless, I don’t know, I make a business version and sell B2B...
Honestly, I think that explains a lot of the side/full time projects here.
OTOH, if you’re looking for a ‘Slack, but for async discussion’ app for your startup, hit me up for the B2B pilot. I have not much time left on my savings, but I’m working towards launching a B2B version of the same app.
I think to make money you need to focus on B2B, but it seems like a tough market right now. Anyways you'd have to focus your landing page on that.
Privacy? meh. Compliance stuff and no US servers or any 3rd party servers you'd need to make contracts with? Yay!
The 6 Month content limit feels off for B2B.
How does it differ from slack usablility wise?
For the B2B version the content limit can be set as a compliance thing, to however many months you want, or be disabled completely.
Compliance is even better: I can run it on premises, in any server you own, or in any AWS region you want, with no dependencies, no third party contracts, and I can guarantee I will see none of your data, you hold the content encryption keys.
Business version will have its own landing page, with its own benefits, etc. For example, that version isn’t P2P. It’s also not a Slack alternative, in that it doesn’t do chat, but longer form communication. In practice that means it takes place of email groups at your company.
I just misjudged time and maybe timezones made it the day before yesterday for me :). I meant your recent newsletter.
Worse yet, you now need to satisfy customers.
Not that that's inherently bad. In hindsight, though, it certainly lets you appreciate the times when you had a boss and life was simpler.
It certainly lends credence to the saying that having to earn earn for a living is incremental indentured servitude, instead of buying your freedom outright, you pay for it in micro transactions and pay interest for the privilege.
It doesn’t matter who your immediate counterparty is, whether be it your boss or the board or the stock exchange, the ultimate counterparty is the market itself. Having a business I think just makes the transaction a little simpler, a little more obvious.
I haven't started working on anything else or for anyone else - I just no longer believe this venture is going to work out and thus have planned to exit. My co-founders don't agree with my assessment.
FWIW you should probably be using something like MJML rather than hand-coding HTML tables. (There are a few alternatives, that just happens to be the one we use.)
This is how it turned out with Salted:
Not too bad for a first try, I think. If anyone needs help with Salted, happy to take a look.
The point is that it’s better to share a lot of imperfect creative works than to never release anything because it’s imperfect.
> Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
Even with all of that backup, they still can't produce more than solid one hit out of maybe thirty songs.
Either Civ or personal projects.
Although usually with Civ these days I try to win before I get bogged down with micromanagement.
You just have to hit minimum viable product and launch. Then you're adding features (or fixing bugs, doing maintenance) to that product.
This is such a massive problem across creative and programming fields. I have a huge number of projects that are nearly there, yet not quite.
Perhaps the person helping them is also at 80% on their own project, and the act of helping someone else motivates them to push through and finish their own incomplete projects!
Heck, you could even buy/sell "nearly there" projects that the creator doesn't have the energy to launch, or doesn't want to launch because of other commitments. Creators make some money (and see their projects live), buyers get nearly-done ideas for cheaper than live projects.
But you have stopped working on it when you were 80% done? :)
I will spend extra time learning new-to-me technology by either doing a low priority side project at work or spend 50% more time doing a project than it would have taken me to do it if I knew the technology.
There is a certain forcing function knowing that others will look at your work and use it. It’s like a commitment device.
I can't remember the last time the game wasn't over (for me or my opponent) quickly when we both do composite bowman/crossbow rushes.
Anyway, play Vox Populi people, it's much much better, also in OP's regard.
I personally write down all ideas and when I have time to implement them, choose what looks the most interesting (and feasible).
With this strategy, in the last couple months, I was able to implement:
https://2018.bloomca.me/en – just a website showing how bloated web is
https://real-local-food.com/ – project about local food
https://nameless-hamlet-12227.herokuapp.com/ – check your allergies application, built for a hackathon.
Now, you can notice they are not perfect, and by no means are finished, but before I was not able to produce that much.
In week 1, I'm annoyed by my vacation. I don't care about sitting on a beach, I'm bored, I want to get back to solving problems.
In week two, I'm aghast at the mundane routines I've fallen into, bullshit hangouts, errands, and reddit.
Something weird happens in week 3 where all the books you read, all the ideas you have, start to take on this new lightness and optimism and interestingness. Hang out in that vacation mode for as long as you can afford to.
I wish I had more insight into that last state, but it's a very rare day that I take more than a month off work.
For me at least, vacations under 3 weeks are somewhat useless from a "recover your health" standpoint, and I'm much better off spreading a week or two of vacation around in a way that makes many 3 day weeks, giving room to run errands and make non-work life more relaxed across the board, rather than oscillating between tire fires and mandatory relaxation.
Can confirm. I haven't had more than two weeks off in one block in the last ~20 years, and the results have been exactly what you'd predict.
This Onion article from 2013 is depressingly accurate:
At first it's irritating that I have nothing to do; then the irritation goes away and is replaced by enthusiasm toward the meta-work of fixing my life/habits (so I can be ready to be more productive later.) It takes quite a while of being in that "mode" before my mind is willing to switch gears into enthusiastic pursuit of a hobby.
I'm guessing that, for some people (people who are always a little bit hypomanic), this might be every vacation day for them.
For me, though, all I have to do is to not take those meds... and I'm instantly in a comfortable+complacent "vacation mindset", where my hobbies/passions seem like the only thing I could ever get excited about.
As such, a proposal for anyone having this problem: if you take any stimulants (e.g. caffeine), try laying off them the instant you go on vacation. Maybe you'll relax sooner!
> Hang out in that vacation mode for as long as you can afford to.
Negative. After about 4-6 months without outside pressure, stimulation or feedback, my creative drive goes away. It comes back after I start working again, and then goes away as I realize that I'm burning myself out if I continue doing this in addition to work.
I’m very similar with this regard. I strongly suspect that the „creative thoughts” while at work are just my brain trying to escape the pain of the job, by convincing me I should quit and pursue this interesting thing instead. However, when I quit, I’m overcome with doubt about financial viability of the path I had in mind, I pursue it only half-heartedly for only a couple months, and ultimately I end up finding myself another job. Once I’m there, the sneaky creative thougts come back and I inevitably end up quitting again some 9-18 months later...
This cycle goes on for 7 years now, and my conclusion is that I’m just super-conservative when it comes to money and I will only be free from my worries when I FIRE. My other conclusion is that it’s possible that I really don’t want to do those projects, and they are 100% fantasy I conjure up when sitting in a boring job. I’ll find out if that’s the case when I finally retire.
I'm on a sabbatical now and in the past month I feel like I've gotten more done on the capstone than in the past 3 years.
In September I was so burned out that when my client abruptly ended our contract (meh, it happens) I didn't look for a new one. I've been coasting on my cash cushion for two months now. It was a little scary at first but in my downtime I sold a bunch of short-term high paying gigs that begin in the new year.
I'm SO. GLAD. I. DID. THIS.
Here's my 20/20 hindsight. Fuck working in your spare time and getting little to nothing done on your side projects and taking time away from your family and your health. Figure out how to make as much money as possible and spend as little as possible so that you can take a few months off at some point. Maybe you can game your employers leave policy, maybe do some contracting on the side, maybe don't buy that new car or house and instead put that money into a sabbatical fund. I don't know what will work for you. We all have very different lives and options.
I wish I could have back most of that "spare time" I wasted getting little to nothing done.
Also, read Deep Work by Cal Newport. If I can't change your mind on how to approach this, maybe he will. Maybe you'll understand why you're not getting anywhere with your side thing and realize it's not you, it's your situation. Once you understand that, you can know what to do to rectify the situation. Seriously, this has been a game changer for me.
Oh, and don't be surprised if for the first month of your sabbatical you get absolutely nothing done. That's because you're burned out and you didn't take care of yourself for all those years. That's the price you're going to have to pay before you can sprint again. Knowledge workers are like athletes. Rest and recovery is as important as exercise.
I just came back from a two week "stay-cation", and I found something similar. Sure, for the first couple days I wasting as much time as I possibly could - happily so - and then I started knocking out all the major house projects I had pending (insulating the crawlspace, fixing annoyances, etc).
Around the two-week mark, my mind was swirling with ideas that I've been wanting to implement in my free time. And then it was time to fire up my email and slack and get ready to get back to work. It works out well for me And my clients as I'm refreshed, excited to get to work, and my house is warmer, but I would have loved to dedicate that energy to something of my own for at least some stretch of time.
Two weeks wasn't enough. It was an excellent start and I highly recommend two consecutive weeks of non-travel time off. But it's not enough.
It's amazing how many people in this thread are echoing similar sentiments. It's clear that the 2-day weekend doesn't seem to proffer enough time off for people to get "in the zone" so to speak.
Or maybe we've become accustomed to the 2-day weekend such that we don't value it's time as much. It seems like these "mini sabbaticals" some of you mention (2-week staycations) are the way to go.
But I know I have a lot of little projects I want to work on or explore, but knowing I won't have enough time or I could do something else (the opportunity cost), I often likewise waste time on nights and weekends.
So cumulatively, these nights and weekends add up to a greater time-length, but because they aren't in a contiguous block like your staycation, I end up with worse results than with the mini-sabbatical model, despite having more time overall.
Not only are we accustomed to the two-day weekend, but there's also the rest of life to squeeze into a couple hours a day and then two days every week.
Due to strange sleeping habits, I have an extremely flexible schedule. I still put in an average of 40 hours a week, but sometimes it's nights, sometimes days, sometimes all within a couple days.
Even if I have four days left for a "weekend", I still have to account for all the things living in a modern society entail: paying bills, buying groceries, doing laundry, washing dishes, managing accounts, maintaining my house and car, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, buying toilet paper and paper towels, etc. Sure, I can automate some of these things by way of a dishwasher, laundry services, and grocery delivery, but there's still attention required†.
Of course, and more importantly, there are the things I _want_ to do, like spend time with my wife, see friends and family, make fancy bread, tweak my home automation, sleep, and so on.
Even without a commute, all of these things fill my entire week. I think this is the source of time going by so quickly with age. The responsibility of maintaining a happy and stable life takes a good deal of maintenance. Add to that, the fact that I now require 6-8 hours of sleep when 4-5 used to be plenty for me, and the fact that we want to start a family, and I don't think 2 days a week will _ever_ cut it.
> I often likewise waste time on nights and weekends
Although it wasn't clear in my wording, I don't actually feel this time is truly wasted. The brain and body require time off and I'm more than happy to oblige.
† I have a note on my Instacart account that says "please use your best judgement - never call me unless you can't get to my front door"
Working on projects "on the side" was damaging to my health. I sacrificed way too much of my "recharge" time after work sitting in front of a computer doing more work, rather than going to the gym, hiking, cooking and relaxing. Most of the time, it's just not worth it to sacrifice those things.
To humor you, I clicked the bloated web expecting to see how large the web had grown with unimportant projects and whatnot.
After clicking through to disable adblock, I thought to myself, "What the FUCK is this guy on about!?" and then realized the point of the website.
You almost got me at the notifications bit. I was about to close the tab but something told me to give it one more chance.
This is one of products of this lifestyle: https://theymadethat.com
Edit: For anyone wondering what differentiates my project from crunchbase and Wikipedia: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18545122
Working on weekends with a plan helps me getting things done.
I am from the 'third world'
I quit my job last month, and so far, it seems it was the right decision.
What really pushed me over the edge was just realizing how bored I was at work, and it wasn't just a slow period - it was systemic. The projects I'd fantasize about spaced out commuting home genuinely excited me, but then I'd snap out of it as soon as I got home and realized I had 4 hours to eat, bathe, and maintain relationships with friends and significant others. I was scared to think about losing my paycheck, especially because I'm not pursuing these projects as potential revenue streams - really just for the sake of exploring and learning new things. I'm fortunate enough to be in a position where my only financial obligation is rent, and as a software engineer, a few hours of freelance work per comfortably covers that.
I'm not advocating everyone go quit your jobs, because I realize everyone's situation is different. But life is too short to be bored as shit.
Not sure quitting my job is in the cards at the moment, but my son's preschool is closing down for the summer in June, before he starts kindergarten in the fall. I've considered taking the summer off to stay home with him for a few months and just do creative projects.
The problem is that music isn't something you can just pick up and create, especially if you're past the point of "just write a song" and want to actually produce something. The latter requires too much immersion to do in the 30-60 minutes of free time I get each day.
The book The E-Myth makes the point that people fall into this trap: I've been doing a technical skill as an employee (coding). I could just quit my job and do that skill myself! Problem is once you go out on your own, you have to become the CEO, manager, and coder of your little enterprise.
In short, you have to learn business skills. Specifically, marketing, positioning, negotiation, people skills, etc. The more you know about these the easier freelancing is. Coding chops are absolutely necessary, but not sufficient.
Don't compete on Upwork, build your own pipeline. This will require selecting a target market, going out and actually speaking to them, and finding out what their business problems are. Nobody needs a "Wordpress site". But lots of people need a site to sell their product, market their service, etc.
I'm relatively convinced that any person who can combine competence in programming with competence in sales can do anything they want.
One of my favorite really accessible introductions to this idea of selling something that isn't a commodity is Sean D'Souza's The Brain Audit. Read it in one sitting and then change all the copy on your website to be targeted to solving the client's problems instead of what technologies you know.
Happy to chat with more about this - my email's in my profile. Cheers!
I haven't had any troubles with it so far. I paid about $350 a month for a silver plan and this year am upgrading to a gold plan that is about $500 a month. I don't know if this is a lot but it seems reasonable for just me (a single 31 year old non-smoker male).
I have pretty much resigned myself to not doing any personal projects until they are older. If only I realized how much time I had in the before-time....
1) kids get good habit going to sleep at the right time
2) you get a proper sleep
3) at least my morning mind is much more fresh after some exercise
4) your creative wandering is time limited by how early you wake up - that is most difficult especially in the winter, but it is just a matter of habit and doesn't sacrifice health so much.
5) I am unlikely to procrastinate in the morning if I wake up with a planed task in mind
Say, 30 minutes for dinner (if you're not the one cooking), 15 minutes for shower/grooming, 30 minutes for exercise plus whatever time it takes to get ready and cool down...so...an hour? If you're rolling solo, that probably rounds out your daily commitments. With kid(s) and a partner, you're down to 3 hours in which to help/bond with kids, spend time with your partner, plus whatever travel/wind up/wind down time those things take. Maybe 30 minutes a day you could really commit to these things?
I dunno, there are a lot of variables, but I find that prescriptive articles like these essentially dump the demands for your <insert here> project upon the shoulders of your family. If you want to make it really uncomfortable, consider the demographics of people here and in the software industry at a whole. Now it's just more of men offloading the work of family, house and home, etc. on the women in order for them to get their own projects done.
Sounds great, but don't expect much.
I'd always end up dozing off if I tried to get anything done after the kids went to bed. Now it's asleep by 8:30PM and up at 4:30-5AM for a few hours of personal work time.
Seems you must have an amenable partner?
Funnily enough, I feel like I get more done with kids. Before I had them I was a huge procrastinator. Now I have the focus and time management skills (because I HAVE to) to actually get stuff done on my personal projects.
But, yeah, if I had all that free time, with my current focus, would have been nice.
> young children
young children = personal projects
My previous employer told me part time w/ benefits was impossible. When I found a new job that offered part time w/ benefits, my previous employer made me a counter-offer: part time w/ benefits.
It was the right choice.
It does sting a little bit to be saving so much less for retirement. On the other hand I wouldn't mind working part-time forever. I just hope age discrimination in tech isn't as widespread as some people say...
But it's not impossible. I managed to do it; that's how I can afford to be a musician and play paying gigs.
I had to negotiate a position at a very small firm, but I get a salary based on a 30h week and I've been doing that for several years now.
I am looking to do this, but I'm ~1 year in. How viable is this?
I would LOVE this, but I can't get insurance or benefits this way (in the US).
Depending on where you live in the US, this can be more costly than it's worth (compared to group coverage).
It's probably the highest expected return, but the greatest exposure to downside risk (conversely, buying the near maximum coverage HMO plan is probably the lowest average return, but least exposure to downside risk.)
I appreciate the article, and I'd also caution anyone who opened it looking for magic tricks or simple solutions. There really aren't any. I work part-time and make substantially less money than I could working full time. I say no to friends who want to hang out. And sometimes I start to hate my creative work or get burnt out on it.
But I do it; I keep doing it.
I'm in a band, I make my own music, I built an art car for Burning Man this year, I write and design things. And it keeps me happy and keeps me going.
All I'm really trying to say is that it's like health. The trick to being in good health is that there is no trick. Eat well and exercise. The trick to having creative pursuits is to sacrifice the time to sit your ass down and get to work.
- I work fulltime
- I commute 30 minutes each day during the week
- I am a fulltime dad
- I exercise 5 times per week
- I walk my dog 2x daily
- ~10 hours/week on chores/yardwork/construction
- I still manage to have a side project.
It is indeed doable, as you say but not at all common. Either your job is very low stress (no on-call, no live services, etc..), you're on meth, you're half-assing most of that or have an exceptionally large spoon  but there's no way in hell a regular engineer would have the mental energy to deal with all of that and do a great job at them.
By "fulltime" I mean I spend about 40 hours/week in my day job, and about 40 hours per week taking care of my daughter. Breakdown: 1 hour per morning getting her to school, 2.5 hours after work. That is 17.5 hours during the weekdays. I spend probably at least 20-24 hours on the weekend with her on average. (Note that there are 112 waking hours in the week)
However (!) note that I can multitask many other things while taking care of her, particularly chores and yard work (she often plays outside with me while I am doing construction work or yard work). She is also often self-sufficient, and often entertains herself by drawing (we try to minimize the amount of TV she gets). Also (as mentioned in another comment) my wife simultaneously watches her during some of this time so its a bit easier (although as long as she is awake it is near impossible for me to work unless I am out of the house).
About doing a great job: you are absolutely correct. I do not excel at my day job (in terms of putting in overtime), but I am performant enough during my shift to keep them happy. And I do not excel at being a dad, but I consider myself a better dad than many I know, FWIW :)
That's great. Seriously, good for you. Finding this balance is not easy. To tell you the truth, I was a little envious and that was probably the cause of the acidity in my original comment.
Making them breakfast, seeing them off on the bus, picking them up from school, shuttling them off to activities, helping with homework, making dinner, cleaning up, helping them when they have nightmares ... &etc.
It's healthy to think of raising children as a creative, meaningful project on its own merits.
It’s good, your family sounds great!
But it’s definitely not being a full-time dad.
Lately I've been meeting many "hustlers" who are swearing up and down I only need 6 hours, or even less, which I thought would be obviously absurd, but this stupid meme keeps cropping up. The 80s sales gurus were teaching us this in highschool with their pep talks, and now the new-rich millenials are devouring it and sending it straight down the line on their instagrams.
First off, the effectiveness in diagnosed add / ADHD people vs people just using it doesn't seem to be 1:1. For example, it gets me focused on relevant tasks, whereas my non ADHD friends could easily get sucked into the infamous "clean the entire house" funnel. Or, it just makes them anxious.
I also suspect it dramatically reduces my emotional reaction to things, including art. I feel like it robotocizes me. Sure, I'm more effective, but time seems to just slide by without having any real impact on me. The weeks I don't take it seem to automatically be more "colorful" in my long term memory.
It's certainly made my life a hell of a lot easier as someone with ADHD, but I wouldn't sing its praises as a side-effect-less drug. If anything, the side effects are insidious in a dangerous (emotionally) and undetectable way.
Modafinil, sold under the brand name Provigil among others, is a medication to treat sleepiness due to narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In OSA continuous positive airway pressure is the preferred treatment. While it has seen off-label use as a purported cognitive enhancer, the research on its effectiveness for this use is not conclusive. It is taken by mouth.
You can buy it online, legally in the US anyways, probably in Aussieland too.
I wake up for work before the sun rises, and by the time I get back home this time of year, its been set for about 2 hours. Work in preparing dinner, errands or chores, and trying to get in 8 hours of sleep, I'm left with maybe 2-3 hours where I don't have to be doing something or going somewhere in a given weekday. Sure, I could have a side project or a hobby in that time, but then my day would be entirely occupied without any flexibility for if something comes up.
All through college I told myself 6 hours of sleep was fine, that I could catch up on the weekends, but now my sleep schedule seems to be wrecked so 8 hours is nonnegotiable until I stop feeling so exhausted all day.
- 7:00am or 7:30 am: wake up .
- 8:30am i've prepared breakfast, packed daughter for school, packed myself for work and working out, daughter is brought to school (school is conveniently 3 blocks away) .
- 9:00am I have commuted to work .
- 5:00pm leave work .
- 5:30pm-6:30pm workout .
- 7:00pm I have arrived back home .
- 7:30-9:30 dinner (if I am hungry), chores, get daughter to bed .
- 9:30 - freedom!
- 11:00 or 12:00 - go to bed .
Without caffeine I feel exhausted. I get almost exactly 300mg every day, and also try to time eating such that I don't get tired (food coma).
In addition being on-call (thus sacrificing even more freedom and your time) and required to manage operations is cool only if your company pays you extra for that extra time you're losing. Since this is a more contentious issue I'll elaborate - in the past, companies hired night-shift employees and split the work, not giving a ~10k bump in pay to the day employees and expecting them to keep laptops close to them while they were off-premises.
BTW, if you think you're underpaid as a tech employee, you're almost certainly wrong -- don't forget that the big tech firms colluded to keep wages low not too long ago.
Time is the one resource you never get back (well so far at least).
Anyway, nerds/engineers never think of this stuff, it's why CTOs are the least paid of C levels .
From what I can tell, despite the enormous amount devs are being paid, It seems like we're still on the underpaid side of the balance, especially depending on where you are.
I know we're way past piece work economies but the ratio has to be off.
That said, my "creative projects" are a pretty involved - two of them include FOIA lawsuits.
Does the 10 hours a week support you financially? Is that because your cost of living is low?
Tell us about the creative projects and the lawsuits!
He was on HN FP recently:
I am usually home at about six. I then cook, do dishes and hurry to get to sports training, am back at 22:00, hit the shower and go straight to bed.
I also have a buttload of stuff I want to learn, and so many projects I want to do that I never get to really work on anything.
Since getting funded, I work well beyond full time, I rarely walk through the door before 7:30pm, and then I cook dinner for my wife who gets home later than I do.
And yet...I do have in between hours that I need to decompress and explore.
My strategy is to employ radical focus and boundaries on one or two extracurricular activities at a time, and be absolutely ruthless with my expectations of how much time I have to give to them.
I've got two projects I'm doing now. 1) Build a website for my wife's brick and mortar retail business, and 2) Continually use new dApps.
For my wife's website, I've set a humble goal of having its main job be only to build her email list at first, and keep it minimal to set up and maintain. I'm using a Shopify template so I can easily transition to online commerce later, but for now I want it to grab emails, and I'm giving myself a MONTH to do it.
Tonight, my goal might be to simply choose the font for the main text on the site, allowing me a bit of time to google best practices and then implement. A few days from now I might simply download a collection of viable stock images to deploy later. An hour here, an hour there.
Bottom line is that a month from now, her business will have a website that will begin adding value to her business. Stage 2 will be allowing her to sell/checkout items from her Instagram page, and Stage 3 will be a full blown online storefront which will effectively be an entirely new business separate from her brick and mortar, but I'm nowhere near thinking about those now.
My other current project is to have a cursory familiarity with various crypto dApps. It's pretty easy, I've just got a list of applications that I'm signing up and trying, one by one. This Saturday, I'll work on my company, but later on in the afternoon or evening at some point, I'll sign onto Augur and place a bet, poke around a bit, and decide which dApp I'll look at next.
None of these projects will take meaningful time away from my main work, but I'll be filling the "in-between decompress" hours with productive fun snippets of learning and doing. These are things that I used to occupy more with reading or gaming back when I had more time. It doesn't seem like much, but it will add up. 1-2 years from now I'll be able to easily knock out and maintain online stores, and will be fluent (and have opinions on) a number of decentralized crypto applications. I think that's pretty awesome, and totally doable! Biggest caveat: I don't have kids, haha.
>I also have a buttload of stuff I want to learn, and so many projects I want to do that I never get to really work on anything.
I say you choose ONE, set a RADICALLY humble goal for what "Phase 1 success" of your project looks like, then imagine how much time you think it will take, multiply that time by FIVE, and just begin :)
I feel like the idea of a "side hustle" is selling false hope.
Maybe people call something a "side hustle" just so that they can brush of criticism with "it was just a side hustle".
I've convinced 3 people (2 friends, one person on hacker news) to quit their jobs to work on their ideas, pursue self-study and figure stuff out. They've all been very thankful and the progress on their respective journeys has been much faster.
You can't build something cool without devoting yourself entirely to it.
After a couple of years they both had grown to a point where I was able to comfortably quit my job to pursue them.
That said been doing renovations recently and there is definitely pent up energy for physical work after a day of coding.
Now they pay monthly and it’s been a good recurring source of income for me.
Another project was something I built for myself a few years ago (macvendors.com) and made available. After about 4-5 years traffic picked up and it started to grow. Now I receive about 350 million API request per month and growing. We recently introduced paid plans but the income from them is pretty much irrelevant, under $100/m. The site makes a little bit of ad revenue though which helps.
The tradeoff is you might be less enthusiastic at work, but I've not suffered from this yet (big yet, remains to be seen). Also, you need to be more of a lark to do something like this.
Other days you’ll get a lot of creativity done in your spare hours, and if your hobby is computer science, then you can certainly get a side project done. Because if you have a few hours to watch Netflix or browse hackernews, then you have a few hours to do other things, and once you get into the habit of having fun with your hobby, it will feel nothing like work.
Granted, that last bit isn’t as easy as it sounds, and it’s probably impossible if you don’t like your side project. Like if your side project is to build x because y will be good for you, then x may not be what you want, and it’s almost impossible to do that then.
Disclaimer, I’m Scandinavian. Our work week is 37 hours. My work week isn’t though, and I still had time to build a password cracker for DES encrypted passwords in c the other day, because it was fun.
Of course, if your goal is to start a business, then it’s perfectly possible that this won’t be fun, and I do agree that it’s often a good idea to give it a shot instead of trying to do it on your spare time. But creative side projects? That’s like going for a run or watching a movie.
Hour1: Eating / TV / Hanging out with wife
Hour2: Development, studying, cultivating
Hour4: Relax, mental health, maybe some more development
While I agree that my progress is significantly larger on the weekends, the five hours from the weekdays gives me a good amount. Keep in mind too, this is about side projects, creative ideas. Not about "starting a business" or some startup venture
After rereading my comment I would like to clarify that it was not intended as an insult but rather an observation that time for friends was not on your list. Several recent studies have linked maintaining friendships with long-term health and happiness.
I'm in New York, if you ever in my neck of the woods send me a message, I'll buy you a beer
Per weekend day, I normally find four~five hours of development time and the rest I typically spend with her.
It's also worth noting that this schedule isn't law, there are days were I don't develop or go to the gym to hang out with my wife more
Potentially, if you view "full time" as being 10+ hours/day, then yeah, it would be hard, but, if you can manage 8/day on work +2 per day for commute/errands and 1 for relaxing, you still have 13 hours left. I like to sleep 8 hours/day, so, 5 total that can be allocated to hobbies/side projects. even if you lose 2 more hours to inefficiencies/task switching losses, then you still can spend 3 hours on the project, and if you do that with dedication it works pretty well.
I'm not entirely sure why the person you replied to got down-voted so heavily. Yes, it's possible to do stuff on the side, but it is exhausting and hard, especially if you are juggling a full-time job and family life.
As a husband and dad to two, there is a lot less free time available on any given day to pursue side projects and hobbies. I prioritize time with my family, and I prioritize time to take care of my health (work out), and that leaves very little time to devote to hobbies. Even with an understanding spouse who is okay with me spending my nights after the kids go to bed on study/hobbies, I get 1-2 hours on weeknights at best. I still build things, learn things and tackle new things, but it is hard, and it can be very exhausting if you try to sustain it over long periods of time.
But I like my job, my co-workers, and I like where I am at life, so I have no complaints. If I wanted to switch careers or build something substantial on the side, I would definitely recommend doing what the OP suggested, even though it seems riskier and harder.
What is your commute like? I can bike to work in 15 mins but now its too cold and icy for that, and it takes 45 minutes to drive through rush hour and park (and I'm bent over with the parking pass situation near work). Lately, I've been using the bus, which is hundreds of dollars cheaper than maintaining the parking pass, but no faster. Somehow, I live only 1.5 miles away.
I keep the time down with a combo of simple meals, batch prep, and Costco.
The best I can do is try to carve out a couple of hours late at night or early in the morning, when everyone else is asleep. But you end up robbing Peter (sleep, chores, exercise, cooking, time with loved ones) to pay Paul.
For me side projects are generally just too large and all consuming to run alongside my contracting. I've had the odd smaller project but that's the exception rather than the rule.
Maybe things are different for people working on different types of side projects or who don't have the three kids I do, but I can empathize with the feeling that it's impossible.
Speaking only personally here, but I think trying to just schedule in productive creative time doesn’t really work. There is no real enforced urgency and it’s too easy to think, “Well, I worked hard at my day job today, so I deserve to relax.” There is no “survival” mental state. But YMMV. I think it depends on whether you’re a “disciplined slow-but-steady worker” or if you thrive on being obsessed with what you’re working on.
You don't necessarily "got 6-12 months to make your company profitable or it either fails or you get into massive debt." A counter example could be that if your company's net begins to converge towards profitability, your burn rate would decrease and it's entirely possible that your 6-12 months becomes 18-24 months. Bail if you don't see that convergence and you'll still be able to re-enter the workforce without wiping out your savings. It's not an all or nothing game.
Alternatively, just get to profitability in 6-12 months :)
Stats on most startups would agree.
Change “I can’t” to “I don’t.” -- This section bugged me. At first, I thought it was great. Looking back, this is great advise for a smaller project, or someone just starting. However as your project gets bigger and larger you need to have time for mental health. By saying "I don't do anything Tuesday evenings" can isolate your friends or family. Sometimes after a hard day of work you just want to play a game or two with your friends, but it can be hard to make that push knowing you're actively "sabotaging" your progression. Having a routine is nice, and I find it the only way to progress myself, but sometimes it feels good for your friends and family to "bug" you. I personally believe breaking a routine for your mental health will be beneficial in the long run.
I do love the words about finding creative peak hours, building slowly and in general good habits. For what it is worth, I am using a "circle development cycle". You can imagine it as a circle progress wheel, making initial progress on several things and going back to improve them several times. The initial pass may be an uncolored landscape, where by the fourth pass there are natural mountains, cities and ect... This way I am cultivating new creative ideals while progressing on things as a whole. My "done" state will arrive sooner, but by delaying the "perfect" state's date.
Anyways, this is a great article and just wanted to share my smaller findings while I apply what the author suggested to myself
When I've done this in the past, I've really focused on maximizing and would generally work well over 8 hours a day. Usually 12, sometimes more. Exhaustion is its own creative juice. But not for a full month. :)
(sorry for offtopic)
I would go work in many menial jobs, but the problem is that this jobs pay very little and then you're worried and stressed and can't move on with side projects.
If you go to a nice corporate job (not as a career but just as a source of income) you're usually left grumpy as he describes.
All the comments like "dump everything and dive in head first for X months" sound like some weird cult of extreme heroism to me.
Everything is a process, not some abstract form that can magically be reified into existence by wanting/trying harder. We are animals and have to build up the habit and curiosity in tandem, else risk burnout.
I think it's hugely important to set aside relaxation time and, though it may seem counterintuitive, be active during that time about being relaxed. To me, that's usually a visit to the zoo, a walk by the ocean, or sitting in a coffee shop reading. Having the mindset of "I'm going to disappear for a bit" lets you focus on unwinding.
At the same time, rather than beating myself up or getting depressed when I'm not doing as much on the side as I would like, I've found a "healthier" approach is a more heated, angry frustration, similar to when you keep dying on the same level in a game. That kind of stimulus brings out something competitive in me and as a result I become more determined to overcome and "beat it". It's similar to the restlessness other commenters have described on the 3rd week of vacation, except it also continues to build while I work 40 hour weeks.
As humans, our curiosity arouses around novelty. The object will tend to lose its novelty over time, and we'll tend to progressively lose interest in it up to the point where we go back to 'set point'.
Hint: look for mechanisms in your side projects to add novelty to the system so that your interest doesn't plateau.
When we built https://sametab.com as an internal side project, we used to constantly brainstorm new ideas about how this could eventually become. The more ideas we were founding the more the project looked new and appealing at our eyes.
My next goal is to leave my job (it takes 11 hours per day including commute and lunch time) - it will free ~2.5 hours a day! So actually freelance is a side project which should help me to say goodbye to my full-time job.