4 questions to ask yourself before starting a side project

4 questions to ask yourself before starting a side project

This November, I'm challenging myself to write every day. You can read them all under the "Shorts" category, where each post should be around 500–1k words. Think of them as "less polished" than my usual longer blog posts. This is Day 9.

Side projects don't always have to be entrepreneurial. You can also think of them as a new hobby, whether to challenge yourself or to improve your mental well-being. Aside from being a great way to learn and grow your skills, you can also improve your creativity and your career too by bringing in a fresh pair of eyes to the table. So, if you're looking for a sign to get started with your side project, this is it. This is the sign. Before you start your side project, here are four top questions you should ask yourself first.

What do you want to make?

The first question you should ask yourself is what do you want to create or build. From there, you can think of all the potential ideas. It doesn't matter what you build or create as long as there's something to learn from! Solve a problem
Many side projects emerge from a desire to solve a problem, especially if it's an itch that needs to be scratched. If you think you don't have any problems, think again. Alternatively, reach out to your family and friends to share their day to day activities. For me, I was looking for local artists. However I had to manually scour for them across different social media channels which wasted my time. I figured I could build a simple platform to showcase local artists for anyone else who was experiencing the same problem. Thus, Buttermilk was born. Passion
Passion projects are great because you have more interest and motivation to work on them. Maybe it's writing or drawing? Perhaps you love movies as well. You can combine both interests to write reviews about movies you watch. I wouldn't say I'm passionate about writing, but I do want to get better at it. Hence, I started this blog to share my reflections, creation, and personal development. Fun
It could also be just for fun! Maybe it's a website you want to build just for shit and giggles. Or perhaps a podcast to talk about the history of video games. I'm sure many of us will enjoy it. Neal does a great job here. Bad Unicorns too.
 

What's your goal?

Setting goals is essential so that there's something for you to work towards, no matter how small the project is. The typical way is to set a SMART goal. However, Ness Labs suggests making a PACT goal as a better way. PACT stands for purposeful, actionable, continuous, and trackable. What makes it different is it focuses on the long term and continuous growth rather than an end result.
Here's a good example from their article:
Let’s say your goal is to grow your newsletter. Here are two versions of the same goal: - SMART version of a goal: “Get 5,000 subscribers in 25 weeks.” - PACT version of a goal: “Publish 25 newsletters over the next 25 weeks.”
Better yet, make one goal in each of them. Most importantly, I believe you should start small, be consistent, and don't worry about perfection. If you want to make writing as your side project, you could start by writing at least 100 words per day to keep the momentum. That way you are less likely to burnout.
 

How much time do you have?

Do you have a full-time job? What about a family? Those are important considerations to take in, because they determine how much you can do during your free time. If you only have one hour, that's more than enough to start with. If it helps, use a project management tool (or write it down on paper) to help you better plan your time and energy. Just don't overburden yourself to the point of exhaustion. It won't be worth it, so make sure you have enough time to rest. It's okay to take a day or a few days off to recuperate if that's what you need. And it's okay to start again the next day.
 

Do you need accountability?

Having someone to hold you accountable is always a good backup. You can get a friend (or even friends) involved, so that you all can give support to one another. Alternatively, you can join a community. You will not only have a feedback and support group, but you get to meet new friends too! If not, it's perfectly fine to go solo! However, know that it's okay to reach out anytime for help. There will always be friends or communities who would be more than happy to welcome you in.
 
If you feel you've done enough or the side project isn't for you, it's okay to take a break or even quit. Come back to it anytime you want, because it will be there for you when you're ready again. As long as you keep a positive attitude, there will always be something out there for you to try and learn from.

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