Side Project: Dealing with lack of motivation

Side Project: Dealing with lack of motivation

It is not something that only developers do. Everyone does it. We start things and stop before completing them. Specially, for developers, it is not uncommon to have an idea and work on it for some time, and then forget gradually and leave it unfinished.

This time I will focus on programming side projects. A side project is a project besides your normal work at your job. Even though, I believe some ideas might also be applicable to the day job as well as to other purposes or hobbies.

The box of forgotten projects

I could count a lot of times that this has happened to me. Game ideas, a cool library or utility, an smartphone application, my twitter account, my personal blog, a diet. I can start with a lot of motivation, and then stop suddenly one day, or move to the newer cooler thing. Don’t get me wrong: sometimes moving to the newer cooler thing might be the right thing to do.

Motivation does not last forever. It might be months, weeks or days, but there is always a time when the spark disappears and we don’t feel like going on with our project anymore.

For example, this new blog. Right now I feel like I could write forever. But experience tells me that there will come a time when it won’t be like now. I will need something to keep it going on. How can we overcome that phase?

Think about the objective of your side project

We all have unfinished projects. I have lots of failures. I still do fail and will fail many times. But after many failures, I realized that the objective or motivation is the most important ingredient for success. Probably all the objectives are valid. But depending on each person, one might be more helpful than other in order of accomplishing the goal.

Think deep about the reasons you are doing the project. Is it to learn? Is it to help others? Is it to become rich? Is it for fun? If the reason does not seem to motivate you enough, try to focus towards another more rewarding objective.

When the moment where we lose the motivation comes, think again about it and try to motivate yourself again.

Creating habits

I realised that creating habits it’s the key to being able to continue. Well, creating the habits and then following them, of course. Try to set a day or time of the day you want to dedicate to your project. Try to adhere to it. If the time comes and you don’t feel like working on your side project, trust me and just force yourself to do it for ten minutes. Probably after ten minutes you will want to continue doing it.

Don’t give up. It is ok to change objectives, and to change things that are not working. But do not use that as an excuse for leaving a project. Creating habits and thinking about the objectives will help you accomplish your dreams.

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