How to find time for side projects

Original author: David Elbe
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Quitting a stable job or business for the sake of an exciting startup idea is still a risk. But combining one with the other is real and not so painful.

We translated the article about this with special love in Alconost . After all, Alconost itself was once a parallel project of its creator-programmer. And then, when the translation agency became the main thing, new side projects began to grow out of it: the online translator Nitro selling Alconost Video videos, and now - the online generator of fast and affordable Macs videos. Parallel projects are stressful, difficult, but feasible, especially if you follow the tips below.

I am a web entrepreneur with a lot of ideas and a lack of time. And sometimes it’s very annoying. I know that I can create many great things, but usually I just can’t make time for this. After all, there are so many other important things to do.

Recognized yourself? I understand you very well. I have a little daughter, and I work 40-50 hours a week. And my head is full of excellent ideas that I know I can realize. Parallel projects can be promising if you put everything in place. Craigslist started as a side project, the same story with Basecamp. And there are a lot of such examples.

Over the years, I have come up with a set of principles that work in my case.

1. Make it a habit

Get one or two habits that will help develop your parallel project. Say you decide to devote 30 minutes to programming every day. Find the right time for yourself. For some it is an early morning while they are still sleeping, for others it is a lunch break, for others it is a late night. I tried almost everything. Some options suited me, some did not. But, as soon as I found my time, I did not stop. There were days when I worked only for half an hour, on other days I continued to work for hours, but this little habit supports my work on the project.

The development of your parallel project should become a habit, like gym classes or night sleep. No need to think about whether to work on a parallel project today: just create a habit and stick to it.

2. Simple goals

At the end of each day, I write a list of small goals for tomorrow. At the end of each week - a larger list of goals for the next week. At the end of each year - a list of ambitious goals for next year. This helps maintain a focused mind and focus on what you are going to do.

3. Save time on other things

There are matters less important than working on your parallel project:
  • View the latest episodes of 10 different television series. Maybe you should limit yourself to one?
  • Track Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Constantly checking Google Analytics (my eternal problem!).
  • Golf and other activities that require a lot of time.
  • Work (maybe you should work 4 days a week if you seriously undertook to develop your parallel project).

Maybe one of the above is more important for you than a parallel project. This is normal, and I do not intend to challenge your priorities. But do not complain about the lack of time if you consciously choose other activities.

4. Know what matters to you

I love spending time with my family. Much more than programming. Therefore, my priority is to be with them. This limits my time on weekends and evenings, but leaves early morning (when they sleep) and late night (when they sleep) free. So I plan my work on a parallel project for these periods that are convenient for me.

Remember: you have as many hours in a day as Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison had. You just need to prioritize correctly.

5. Say no

A year ago, I began to answer “no” to all requests that do not belong to one of the following categories:
a) classes that I really like;
b) things that bring me closer to achieving my goals.

This is difficult, and sometimes I notice that I still say “yes”, just to please someone, but it rarely makes anyone happy. Just remember that not all of your goals should be related to your business.

6. One parallel project at a time

When nothing works out for me, this is due to the fact that I was not focused solely on one project. I try to do many things at the same time. You will never be effective enough in trying to do two things at the same time.

Complete what you started. Finish the project or pause it before starting the next one. Think of your parallel project as a romantic relationship: you should never start new ones if the current ones have not been stopped yet.

7. No podcasts

Do you listen to podcasts while working on your product? Stop it. You are harming your own effectiveness. Some music or even the sounds of nature will work better if you sit down to program or write. Podcasts are good for walking, jogging, driving, or waiting in line, but not for your valuable work time.

8. What suits me personally

  • Arrive at work an hour earlier and update your blog early in the morning.
  • Wake up early on the weekend and thus get a couple of extra hours.
  • Engage in a late night parallel project several times a week.
  • Focus on big tasks when I am in the most productive state, and on small simple ones - on bad days.
  • Each time listening to the same music tracks. A bit boring, perhaps, but my mind switches to working state as soon as my playlist starts playing.

Thoughts from Alconost

And there is an unobvious difficulty in working on a side project: you need to catch the moment when the project ceases to be satisfied with the second roles and make a decision in time what to do with it.

If everything happens in a timely manner, then the project successively passes through the larval stage, hatches, takes most of the founder’s time (here you need to decide how to deal with the main project, which also takes time), eventually it goes into the category of main projects, lives and thrives. Be prepared for the fact that a parallel project will sooner or later become the main one and push out your current main project from your life.

If you miss this moment, or deliberately do not transfer the side project to the main category (for example, if the founder is not sure of its success), then such a project slowly withers away, does not realize its full development potential, and, as a rule, eventually fades out completely.

And of course, if the side project does not bring returns, you must be able to cover it in time. It is important to understand here that the amount of time, effort and money already invested should not affect the decision to stop the project. In other words, to decide whether to continue working on a project, do not look back, look forward.

What does your experience say? Share your decisions in the comments!

About the translator

Translation of the article was done in Alconost.

Alconost localizes applications, games and sitesinto 60 languages. Native-language translators, linguistic testing, cloud platform with API, continuous localization, project managers 24/7, any format of string resources.

We also make advertising and training videos - for sites that sell, image, advertising, training, teasers, expliner, trailers for Google Play and the App Store.

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