side projects are awesome. they’re creative, fun, and can be practically anything you want. their downside, however, is the possibility that they’ll burn you out. for me, I normally get overly excited about a new project, dive into it head first, and do a huge portion of the work up front. then, seemingly out of the blue, I hit a wall. it always strikes me as odd that I hit a wall in the first place, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. we only have so much energy to burn, and once we’ve burned through it, we’ll need to recharge before continuing on. but what about when you need to keep going even after you’ve burned out?
take your side project and divide it up into a zillion little pieces. this might seem impossible at first glance, but everything is much better once it’s broken up into many pieces. breaking your side project apart into manageable and digestible pieces will help you complete your side project bit by bit without feeling like the great burnout. choose a maximum amount of time that you’re willing to spend on the side project each day, and then sit yourself down to break the project into chunks that are approximately the same amount of time you think you can give to it on a daily basis. this can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 60, but I’d be careful not to do more than 60 minutes per day if you’re already feeling the burnout.
the two things I do to track and manage my work is through a spreadsheet and a calendar. I prefer Google Drive (sheets and calendar) over other services, but do whatever feels comfortable to you. create the spreadsheet first, focusing on the big goal, a few large milestones, and then the breakdown of where your time will be spent based on what you need to get done.
once you’ve charted everything out in your spreadsheet, log it in your calendar. for larger items like milestones, I like to schedule at the top of a day or week instead of at a specific time of day. for smaller items, I consider when I do my best work and when I have some free time in order to find a time slot to complete my work.
finding a side project is, in my opinion, crucial to growing beyond your current career. but you should also take care not to burn yourself out. if you’ve already done that or if you think you’re in danger of burning out, break the side project into as many small pieces as possible before proceeding. this will make all the difference!
and for those looking to start a side project, here’s how.