You constantly read and hear about the importance, especially as a developer, of running your own side-projects. And, by all means, do it — it’s healthy and you constantly evolve as a developer, because of them!
But here’s the true story, about how side-projects can really get you down.
I love having multiple projects running at once, it’s what keeps me going, but at the start of this year, I realized something, something I should have realized ages ago!
I was never shipping.
I had multitudes of projects, but they were all, at most, half done.
Now you might think to yourself — “How can he not know this?” Simple.
When I start a new side-project, I give it all my energy, I nourish and treasure it for days, weeks, even months. Then, before I even realise it, I’ve moved on to the next side-project, abandoning the old, but not dismissing it.
This has been happening for years.
I have lost count of how many unfinished projects I have on different external hard drives, in Dropbox and on old servers. And I bet I’m not the only one! This can’t be healthy.
I have an old Google Sheet, with calculations and a lot of data about specific systems that any SaaS-company can make use of. The plan was to make it into a small web-service, but I never got around to it. The Sheet is over 2 years old now, all the data is outdated and I should start over if I wanted to make the service.
I own different novelty domains, which at the least could make a few people laugh. If I actually finished what I started, when I bought them.
I have a tumblr, devoted to the fun little stories on the App Store. It has one story, sad.
I’ve run multiple Instagram account, possibly 5 at once, now there’s only 1 left besides my personal, and I’m not giving up on it just yet!
And I could go on, and on, but I’ll save it for another time.
Alright, sad face, why should I care?
You should care, because it has made me depressed, stressed and with far too many things around my head, to focus my effort and time — And it affected my private and professional life.
Just a few weeks ago I realized this evil cycle I was in and I decided to put an end to it. I abandoned most of the projects, cancelled the domains, deleted folders and set my mind free. Free to focus on fewer projects, and do it better.
And it was the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time.
I love, truly love, having a bunch of stuff to do, but my ultimate goal is to ship side-projects, not accumulate them!
Now I only have so many projects, that I can count them on my hands, it’s still a lot, but it’s better than 10s of them. I hope to lower the number to 1 hand, before 2017, having shipped the rest!
My name is Matias, and I’m an alc… side-project-accumulating-developer. This is my story, and I hope it will help you reflect on your own habits.
Do you have any tips that you want to share with me and others having this problem? Hit me up on Twitter @matiasvad