Bitten by the 9 to 5 bug

One year ago I had just quit my first job as a programmer in an attempt to work on my own ideas and have more control over my life.

I could not have asked for more: in those 10 months, I learnt about indie hacking, became more integrated into the community, launched a free tool for developers that's been having 30k+ page views per month and, after all, I gained the confidence that I am on the right track.

But the time to look for a full-time job and a fixed monthly income arrived. I am now working with a team of talented devs building a tool for easier auth and user management.

This experience has been amazing: the constant impostor syndrome feeling tells me I landed an amazing opportunity to learn from them. It's going better than ever.

"So what's the problem?", you might be asking. Well, I don't seem to find the time or energy for my side projects anymore. This bothers me. And this feels like throwing in the bin what I spent countless hours working on while "on the loose".

I'm slowly putting in a few hours every now and then to keep them going, but it's just so little that I can't even see the progress.

Maybe you've been through the same. Maybe you know how I feel. Anyway, that's just an attempt to get back to talking to you all, and hopefully, finding again the motivation or the road back to indie hacking.

  1. 6

    I know the feeling. My case is slightly different: I get to work on my own stuff 50% of the time. The other 50% is contract work.

    I'm grateful that the contract work keeps the money flowing in and the lights on, but it is frustrating that progress on my own projects is slow. What I could do in 1 month full-time takes over 2 months.**

    A few suggestions:

    • Try to set aside fixed time every week, and stick to it
    • Cut tasks down into smaller chunks, so you can see the progress
    • Keep things as simple and minimalist as possible (e.g., what's the simplest way to implement a feature that does what is needed?)
    • Use (battle-tested) software libraries where possible to minimize the amount of development needed
    • If you have the money, consider out-sourcing tasks to others
    • Celebrate small wins

    ** It takes over 2 months even though it's 50% time, due to the split attention and context switching caused by splitting time between two totally different projects.

    1. 1

      Reserving some time also works best for me. E. g. I wake up early (4 am) to have some hours every morning to get something done before I start into my day job.

      Also very helpful is setting a clear goal and measure the time spend to achieve it.

      Maybe the book Deep Work might be an inspiration here.

    2. 1

      Those are great suggestions, thank you!

      I've been implementing some of those, like being minimalist when it comes to new implementations, or simply using tools I'm already comfortable with, and I'll try to set more time aside for such projects.

  2. 4

    I perfectly understand your position, @marcelcruz.

    I would say give it some time to get accustomed to the new job and it should get easier after a while.

  3. 4

    Something that has been helping me when working on inspectflow.io while working full-time as a software engineer is to make myself an actual "work schedule" for my side project instead of just working whenever I had some downtime in the afternoons/weekends. I set myself a goal of working a certain amount of hours a week on my side project and which days I will do so. This has really help me stay accountable and kept me motivated @marcelcruz

    1. 2

      Hmm I like the idea of logging a certain amount of hours per week. Currently, I mainly focus on what tasks I'll do on what days. However, spending X amount of time on my business is a good idea.

    2. 1

      Yes, that's a great approach, and it worked amazingly when I was indie hacking.

      I had scheduled hours for side projects, for learning areas and tools of interest, learning spoken languages (I live abroad), but with the full-time job, it seems that the few hours left are taken for house tasks and relaxing.

      But yeah, I'll try to stick to the plan again.

      Thanks for the insight!

  4. 2

    I am in the same situation as you. My idea is to take some time off from my project and let ideas marinate in my mind and make money so I can eventually take months off and focus on the project full time in a cheap location like Thailand from the income I earned from working.

    But of course the money from the job will exceed the web app income...but...maybe I'll sell my business for 3 million in 3 years?

    1. 1

      If you can do that, it sounds great!

      Take your time, and when you're ready go full-gas on it again.

      Best of luck!

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