Self Care January 11, 2021

When do you work on your projects? 🏋️‍♀️

Edvinas @SkepticalHippo

I try and work on my side projects as much as I can, but have found that often it's hard to find the right balance to maintain momentum, especially while having a day job.

I've tried working evenings and weekends. Ultimately that just leads to fast burnout where I need to take a break, often not touching any of my projects for weeks at a time.

I've also tried working weekends, but that results in not resting at all and feeling absolutely wiped come Monday.

It's difficult to find the capacity to sit down and do more work after clocking off the day job.

When do other people work on projects? Does anyone have any tips for striking a balance to stay productive and sane?

  1. 3

    I created https://pagemtr.com having a day job (still I have), 2 kids, dog, home, around home etc. :)))). What is working in my case is a routine. Day by day, step by step toward the goal. Of course I set small goals in between. The goals between help to measure the progress, and keep direction.

    What else? Long walk often. When I am walking for a 2h or 3h I get my minds ordered, I set new goals, thinking on solutions etc. Actually it doesn't matter whether it is a walk or something else - here the most important fact is getting time for thinking, and planning.

    And.. that's all :-)

    1. 1

      Thanks for contributing! Seems to be inline with what I've seen elsewhere - have rest and plan, then execute with laser focus to make the most of your time.

      1. 2

        have rest and plan, then execute with laser focus to make the most of your time

        Exactly! :-)

    1. 2

      Managed to do a stellar job on The Personality Reveal tho! Really like it! 😄

      1. 2

        Great to hear that! :) It was a project I worked on mostly in the evenings and on weekends. Took me around 3 months.

  2. 2

    Irocially the important thing I found is for me to not be so strict with myself and make sure that I am always enjoying what I am doing.

    As much as I've tried to manage a schedule it has to be a more spontantious thing for me. Some weeks I find that I do an hour in the morning before I start my 9-5, but then I might take a week off from the side project and when I return I find that I'm doing an hour later into the evening each day. There really is no set time that always works for me.

    I used to say to myself that I had to do stuff on the weekend in order to make any progress but realisticly it's not always possible so I might not do a weekend for three in a row but on the 4th I do a few hours on each day of the weekend.

    I keep my goals for each session very small as I found it much better to complete a lot of smaller tasks than it is to leave stuff half complete and if I know I have a larger task that I want to complete in one day I'll either take a few days off before or after to make sure I get the balance right.

  3. 2

    I work on mine when I don't have anxiety about it.

    Context: I have a 9-5 job. Indie-project on the side.

    My experience is that if I look forward to the process of building then I have less anxiety about it. This means I code "slower" and do things that I "shouldn't" (like write good tests). Enjoying and looking forward to the work has been the best motivator.

    A "hack" I use is I work in shorter sessions than I'm capable of, but do it often. I force a mindset of "a little progress every day". Even if I'm capable of hustling for longer I stop before I feel drained. How long depends on the day, so "shorter" can mean 20 minutes one day and 2 hours another day. Lean into days when you feel flow and stop early on days of struggle.

    Sometimes I free-write about the project instead of coding. Just start writing everything that comes to mind. It has helped me unblock myself, especially when I end one struggle session with free-writing and start my next session by reading what I wrote.

    Jazz can help, too. Smooth Jazz. (link)

  4. 2

    I think that it all boils down to building habits that remove the "burden" from the equation and turn it into automatisms. Having a (balanced) schedule helps, having clear goals too. Basically the idea is to get everything out of the way so that you don't have to make an effort to start; it's just one more thing that you just do, like eating & sleeping.

    The balance is important, because otherwise, as you've experienced, you quickly drain your energy out. Thus, a healthy body/mind help too :)

    This tweet of Julian shapiro hits the nail on the head about delayed gratification: https://twitter.com/Julian/status/1348723960414760960.

    I've got two kids, my day job that I reduced to half-time, a start-up project that I work on during the other half since way too long already (https://medium.com/swlh/20-months-in-2k-hours-spent-and-200k-lost-a-story-about-resilience-and-the-sunk-cost-fallacy-69fd4f61ef59 :p), and a book project that I've started at the end of last year.

    Personally, I work on Monday, Wednesday (1/2) & Friday on the start-up project (6-8h), the rest of the week for my day job. For the book, I dedicate ~10-12h per week (1h every other morning, 3h Tuesday evening, 3h Thursday evening and 1h each week-end day.

  5. 2

    I definitely feel you on this one. I never understood those people who work first 8-10h in their day job and then 8h for their side hustle 😄 I mean I respect them but I just cant do it.

    So what really just worked for me when I had a full time day job was early mornings dedicated 5-8 am for my side projects (give the best mental energy for your own stuff) and slow but steady progress. You'll need to go to bed early but I noticed Im not doing anything valuable with my evening hours anyway 🤷

    And then occasionally doing something on weekends, if I feel like it. But usually resting.

    1. 1

      Thanks for replying!

      I suppose you can still dedicate your evenings to doing what you were doing before, minus the work. In theory, you're still left with the same amount of time to do whatever you want to do 😄

  6. 2

    Probably won't be a popular answer, but you need a new day job.

    1. 1

      I actually really like my day job 😄

  7. 2

    I follow the rule everyday at least 30 minutes should be spent on a sideproject. Following this rule motivates you and keeps you moving forward . However sometimes it happens that I spend 18 hours in the front of a computer (Weekends or vacation).

    1. 1

      That's a good way to train discipline. You don't overcommit to a point that it feels overbearing and it keeps you moving. I like it! 👍

  8. 2

    I have a toddler who wakes up at 6:30am on a good day, so late nights would come at the cost of almost no sleep. Biggest progress bursts happen during PTO, otherwise I give up my "tv" time after the kid goes to sleep. On weekends I use the two hours he sleeps in the afternoon.

    1. 1

      How's that going for you so far? Do you managed to make decent progress with the time you have?

      1. 2

        Real progress only happens on weekends, weeknights are often only small tweaks and bug fixes. To be honest, my current focus is mostly on learning and decompressing (I love building ), I might feel different if I was planning to make a side project a meaningful income source.

  9. 2

    I wake up a little early, a few days a week. Then I work at lunch too - which is easy since I work at home for the day job.

    1. 1

      That might be a good way to go about it. Reclaiming some of the day by just waking up early. Easier said than done, but worth a shot.

      Thanks for the tip 👍

  10. 2

    Hi. In my case I try in my day job I do not have a fixed hour to do my tasks so when I have some time during the day I try to do something about my side projects.
    I compensate this doing some day job tasks at night.

    Side projects allow me to be productive even when I do not have many tasks to do in my day job, like in summer often happens.

    1. 2

      Thanks for replying! I think it definitely makes sense in jobs where you have a fair bit of downtime during the day. Unfortunately, my job tends to be fairly full on for the whole day so this would not work for me.

  11. 0

    No ways. If you need to build a starship, you need to work non-stop like Elon Musk :)
    Join My Starship's TestFlight https://www.indiehackers.com/post/launch-of-animation-cpu-creative-development-c36cfc93e7

  12. 0

    The business hours have been on my own small website for two months.
    https://www.jsonformatting.com/

  13. 0

    I am working on Tappy👈 Mostly late night... and It had been okay for a couple of months, and it became harder to keep it up. I have to find a sustainable way to keep up.

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