Keeping Side-Projects Painless(ish)

Keeping Side-Projects Painless

A couple of weeks ago I talked about why you should consider starting a side project over the winter break. While side projects are a lot of fun, they can quickly take a turn for the worse if you don’t keep them in check. I want to address a few things that will make the experience enjoyable and keep it from driving you crazy. Stick by these, and your project should be relatively painless.

Keeping Side-Projects Painless


You are starting something that you’ll likely never be paid for and will be entirely self-motivated, why are you doing it? You need to have strong clear reason for starting a side project and how far you want it to go. It could be as simple as a curiosity or interest in your undertaking, just make sure you can justify to yourself why you’re doing it. Having goals will keep you moving forward and will give you progress markers along the way.


Be sure not to over commit yourself, this is after all a “side”-project. If you find you are spending way too much time on it then dial it down a little, don’t take so many opportunities, or perhaps cut certain aspects of it. Over committing yourself is dangerous as it can negatively impact your main practice.


Think long and hard before giving away control of the project. Remember, you started this because you wanted to pursue an idea with complete freedom. Bringing a new person in is great for sharing workload but be sure their vision lines up with your own. Otherwise you might find yourself down a road you never intended without an easy way of getting back on track.


Some projects will require more financial investment than others, but like committing time, it’s important that you don’t let your enthusiasm get ahead of your budget. Remember to always have a reserve for you main business and think long before making large investments that only benefit your side-project.


It’s important to know when to quit projects that have no definite end-date. If you find yourself dreading working on your project day after day, if it’s negatively impacting your other work, or if you’ve simply run out of steam, perhaps it’s time to put an end to it. If you still enjoy the idea but are feeling burnt out, take a break for a few weeks or a few months. If you miss working on your project then consider how to change aspects of it to keep your energy high. If you don’t miss it, end it for good.

Hopefully that helps you navigate the various obstacles side-projects constantly serve up. If you end up starting something new be sure to let us know about it!

Image by Loren Javier