April 27, 2019

Working from home as a developer while working on side projects

Robert Rosenberg @robdrosenberg

So I recently got my first web development job and it's remote 80% of the time. I'm struggling to find the energy to work on my side projects once I'm finished with work for the day.

Before I did customer support work. So when I got home it was easier to switch my brain into development mode. Now that I'm in dev mode most of the day it seems harder to switch to my personal projects and have the energy to stay focused.

Have any of you gone through similar issues? If so how have you overcome them?

  1. 9

    Try starting to work for your project first, specially very early in the morning, I launched 3 projects, monetized 2 working 3 hours a day or less while keeping my job.

  2. 9

    I have the same problem. I get up 2 hours before work to work on my side projects. For me, it's the only way to make progress. By time I get home from work I don't want to code anymore.

    1. 1

      this is the best idea

  3. 3

    This is so familiar! I still do contract development work for certain clients that I have worked with for years or who have occasional support requirements for projects I worked on in the past.

    It's really important to recognize that you only have a few hours of the day during which you can be in the flow and 100% productive. For me its 4-6 hours.

    Energy management is essential. What worked for me is:

    1. Geting up early and spending 1-2 hours working on my own project before 9am when client emails, skype messages and other distractions arrive. If you can keep this up then the momentum of steady progress helps to stay motivated.

    2. Have your to do list or feature list well organized so when you do sit down you can get straight to writing code without having to make decisions as to what task to work on next.

    3. Working a half day on saturday to make a big chunk of progress.

    4. Outsource development of small, well defined features to contract devs on Upwork or similar. By keeping the jobs small you can manage the costs. If you can build a good relationship with your contractors and they get to know your product then when things get busy with your clients, progress can still be made. This really helped me as otherwise I would get so frustrated that I "didn't have time" to work on my own software.

    5. Be really careful not to overwork. Working late nights and early mornings and loosing sleep leads to mistakes, bugs, health issues and is counter productive. Burnout is dangerous and working from home makes it much harder to switch off and give your mind a rest.

    Everyone is different but I think we can all find the right balance with a bit of experimentation.

  4. 3

    I use to have this problem too. After coding all day at work, it was hard to go home and code some more. My go-to solution was to focus on non-dev aspects of my side project during the week (i.e. writing blog posts, sending out newsletters) and then code during the weekends.

  5. 2

    Similar experience.

    Do you have a reliably co-working space nearby? If so, you can use it to create the mental and physical separation of "going to work" that will help you focus on your side projects once you're back at home. The commute is helpful for clearing your cache, so to speak.

    1. 1

      That’s an idea I’ve been thinking of! I meet my boss at a co working space a couple times a week.
      There’s a nice coffee shop down the street I’ve been considering dropping in after work.
      Thanks for the suggestion!

  6. 2

    I'm trying to keep my side gigs for weekends only. Or I'm working on something not related to coding. It helps to change from coding to something else. While working on my last project here https://best-vegas.com/best-hotels-in-las-vegas/ I was working at the local woodworking workshop. That was quite the experience.

  7. 1

    I had this problem too, and for me, I couldn't do It even trying to do things in the morning, etc.

    The only way I found to handle It was to quit my job and do freelancing work. With freelancing, I can make a reasonable amount of money to survive for a while and the focus on long-term projects.

  8. 1

    "So I recently got my first web development job and it's remote 80% of the time. I'm struggling to find the energy to work on my side projects once I'm finished with work for the day."

    I felt exactly the same, which is why I quit my job, dropped to part-time and heavily reduced my living expenses. Now I only need to work 2/3 hours/day.

    I honestly could not imagine building a business in my spare time.

    My suggestion would be to make the sacrifice if you have the ability (no dependants, can afford reduced salary, etc)

  9. 1

    better to focus on entire days working on your own projects, possibly taking a break from the "other" job. big stretches give bigger payoffs