Our lives are busy enough as it is. Between demanding 9-to-5 careers, doctor appointments, long commutes, eating actual meals, and maybe squeezing in a workout or two, it seems like the only down time we have is for sleeping.
But while you’re binge-watching television before packing in for the night, consider this: why not spend time taking on a side project? I can sense incredulous eyes from my computer screen, but I mean what I say.
What is a Side Project?
Side project: Work, outside of your regular work? Not necessarily. Side projects, which can be anything from reading a new book each week to training for a marathon, have three common characteristics.
First: Side projects are not, and don’t have to be, a source of substantial income. So you can write that book, learn the principles of quantum physics, and build custom light fixtures without worrying whether failure will make the difference between paying rent or not.
Second: You have no supervisors. Your only supervisor is you and you dictate what direction the project should take. You want to spend your time creating an application that shows you where the closest cupcake shop is? There is literally no one standing over your shoulder asking if that’s really a good idea.
Third: There is motivation in enjoyment-based projects. You work on it because you want to work on it. At the moment, I’m working on a writing project where I detail all the wonderful things I ate during my Southeast Asia holiday. Writing is definitely a long, time-consuming activity, but because I genuinely love to write it never feels like a drudge.
But Why “Waste” My Time?
Before I came upon this revelation, there were about three ideas I had circulating in my brain for potential projects. But for some reason, I never followed up on them. Time was probably the biggest reason: where was I going to find even a second to do all these cool things?
Unfortunately, not everyone works for great companies, like Google and their 20% rule, that give us simple free time for exploration. And at the end of a long day, we’d rather plop on a chair and relax instead of devoting time for meaningful projects. All completely understandable—but think of it this way: some of the biggest companies out there—Facebook, Twitter—all started off as little side projects, with no intention of profit. And I bet if you asked Mark Zuckerberg if he imagined this kind of success when translating idea into action, he would shake his head no.
Even if your project doesn’t materialize into Facebook-size accomplishments, there are so many meaningful lessons to learn from failures and small victories. If you have an idea—just do it. Take one hour each week to work on something that makes you excited. That’s what I’m doing. Now I just have to see where it takes me.
About the Author
Kaitlyn Borysiewicz is the Communications Specialist at The Web Development Group, a full-service creative agency focusing on Drupal and WordPress development.