Side Projects

Side Projects

We all have multiple passions and we all have new hobbies or activities we want to try, we normally take these extra things on whilst pursuing our main passion, or if you’re still in the discovery phase, you will be experimenting with different interests and activities so you wont have to worry about side projects as such, because you are still trying to find your main passion.

For those who have found their main passion but wish to experiment in other areas or interests, stating a few side projects to see if you enjoy that activity is the most common approach. We all have multiple side projects in various stages of completion. We bounce from one to the other. You can have side projects within your main passion, where you are trying out a new style, something totally new for you in that field, or it can be a side project of a completely different passion that you have to your main one.

When I say ‘main’ passion, I mean the one that you dedicate most of your time to, this is the thing that you default to doing, it’s your primary passion in life. It’s your ‘go-to’ thing. For me, that’s lettering. You will know what your main passion is. And if you don’t, then keep experimenting to find out.

But, for those of who have multiple side projects and struggling to complete them, here are some ways in which you can help alleviate the struggle:

Do one at a time; If you have a few side projects at a time, you effectively have none at all. You can’t juggle multiple projects at a time. How are you going to get them done if you’re only allocating 2 hours a week (if even) to something you want to complete? Focus on one, give it the best effort it deserves to see it through, finish it and then move on to the next.

Seeing as this is not even your main passion that you dedicate your time to, you will already be limited for time to spend on it. This is why it’s important to just focus on one. You can’t do everything at once.

Allocate dedicated time and set a deadline to do it; Schedule a time slot for it, on a weekly basis, make it so that you know when it’s coming up so you can plan for it, fit it into your timeframe, and work your main passion around it. Give it a generous amount of time so you can figure out how to do certain aspects. A side project should be something for the short-term. If it happens that you’re putting more time into your side project than your main passion, maybe you should assess which is your main passion and which is the side project.

Be accountable; Announce it publicly and tell people about it. People will come to expect it. This way your reputation is on the line and you need to follow through with it, if not, your brand perception and the weight of your word means less. It damages your track record and people’s trust in you will falter.

Announcing publicly is a ‘back-against-the-wall’ technique, that forces you into a situation where you must get this thing completed and launched because you made a commitment to people. This is what we are striving for, to get the side project completed in the first place, not to get as many done, but to finish it to its full extent and realise its full potential.

Get a private accountability partner. Someone who will help motivate you to get work done. I’ve talked about accountability partners in the past and their benefits. Its easier to let yourself down rather than someone else, this is why people have gym partners, and why friends join new groups together – To not go with the other person is to let them down, they are accountable to each other. You check in with each other on milestones together and help each other to completion.

Limit the project; it so it does spill over into something longer term. This way you will complete it and learn from it, which was probably the gaol in the first place. Constrain what the project is about or you could end up introducing newer things into the project when you think of it. Only use a certain style, or approach, use a certain tool. Anything to constrain it from becoming something that can potentially drag on to no benefit.

This being said, don’t strive for perfection. This will hamper your progress, thus prolonging the side project. Remember, it’s a side project, not your main passion. There is always something that will be better, always something you can add to it. Learn to let go, that’s how you can complete more. You can go back over it and iterate after its completed.

Would you rather put out 5 x 90% complete projects, or 20 x 50% projects? 

Focus on one thing in an allocated time, and set a deadline, keep it to its highest standard but don’t get bogged down in it, that way you will realise it in its best possible light, otherwise it may stick to the back of your mind that you didn’t put in as much effort and could have been much better, which will plant seeds of doubt in your mind.