Importance of side projects

What ever you are currently working on for your job/career, do you have time for side projects?

Why bother?
Side projects can be something related to the skills related to your day to day work. Since I work with code every day and as programmers know the language you code today will not be the same code you

The language you code in today is not the same language you will code in tomorrow

The only person responsible for your career is you. Side projects can help you keep your skills up to date by trying out new features of a programming language.  You can also expand your creativity by showing what you can do with the skills you currently have. Blogging and mentoring can also help your learning process by teaching. Outside the world of coding, the skills that you have today will need to be improved for the future. Your skills have to be crafted and honed to be better for the future.

What to work on?
So you decided that you want to do something on the side, what should you work on?

Find something that you can improve and find a solution

Reading tutorials and books will teach you the basics but if you find a problem that’s when you learn a million times faster. You focus on what you need to know like a laser.

I tried to “learn” how to program again with the web and relearning HTML5 and Javascript and all of the things that has evolved since 2006. I spent a few months reading blogs and listening to podcasts about the latest in web development. I could talk the talk and knew what was the hottest topics in the space, but could I code? Could I make anything? No. Only once I started coding with some new Javascript frameworks that I realized that reality is more than just reading about programming or tutorials about programming. You learn so much more by applying that knowledge.

Trial by fire is the best teacher

How to work on it?
Like most people you work 40 hrs a week and maybe more hours other weeks. Where do you find the time?

24 hrs – 8 hrs sleep – 8 hrs work – 2hrs commute – 2hrs eat = 4 hrs

You have about 4 hours a day of time to work on things. If you worked on your side project every day after work you would be putting in 20 hrs of extra time. That’s pretty good if you want to burn yourself out. You should treat this as time going to the gym or hanging out with your friends. It’s all about balance. Plus you need time for the knowledge to sink in and register as knowledge in your brain. Having 2-3 days a week of 4hrs solid time would be best.

What will happen?
You could miss out on some nights out drinking. You could make something something rubbish. You could fail at saying “Hello World” in a new language. You could make something new and exciting. You could teach someone something new. The most important thing that will happen is that

…you could learn from yourself, learn to grow.

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One thought on “Importance of side projects

  1. Pingback: Portfolio | Designing Logic

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