How Web Developers Should Manage Personal Projects?

Posted on July 1, 2013 by

It’s basic human urge to live life successfully both publicly and privately. Regardless of our profession, we want financial abundance, esteemed social status, high level of social contentment, peace of mind and better health. Like other people, web developers also struggle implicitly and explicitly to actualize these ideals.

Many of them consider that a proper approach towards daily life activities is to improve their productivity to the highest level. The ultimate goal is to achieve maximum return during a specific duration of time. One common way is to perform personal projects beyond their main jobs.

Nevertheless, it’s still important to have a good balance between life and work. Web developers always find it problematic to juggle work, life and side projects. Unfortunately, there are just not enough usable hours in the day. So, is it possible for developers to hold down a primary job and work on side projects, but still have a life beyond their computer screen? They should begin asking themselves what kind of life beyond work that they want to have. What role side project play in this balance? Generally speaking web developers are excited with their job, to the extent that their job is also a hobby. They love nothing more than trying out new technologies and experimenting with them. Even when they are not working, it is quite likely that web developers spend their time online.

Many young web developers happily work long hours and often pull all-nighters. That’s fun for them and they enjoy these activities. Unfortunately, they tend to set the habit in their working life, which continuous far longer than necessary. But, this can go badly that they become entirely unproductive. The high intensity work style is common in web development industry. Working at an accelerated pace becomes the norm. No longer are they working many hours because they want to, but instead because there’s an expectation they should. This kind of working pattern only ends one way, a complete burnout. It can be damaging personally and it’s in their best interest to always look after their health. Spending time too long in front of the screen isn’t healthy. They need to have activities beyond their desk, preferably those that involve some kind of exercise.

So, should developers take side jobs? In some cases, side projects can broaden our experience. When managed properly, side projects can benefit not only our personal career, but also employers. This provides an opportunity for experimentation and learning new techniques that wouldn’t be possible during normal work hours. Maybe in their day job, some people work as web designers, but their side projects may offer a good opportunity to learn some web programming languages. Side projects are also less affected by common professional constraints. This is one thing that many professionals crave and it is freeing to be able to set a flexible schedule. However, side projects could also pose some challenges. For one, web developers need to learn in how to deliver as there’s no one staring over their shoulder pushing them to work harder.

Knowledge and experience gathered from personal projects can have transformative effects that can change their career. This will increase their chance of applying for better job and show prospective employers how valuable they can be. Many developers believe that they need to work harder to succeed on both primary day job and personal projects, but this may not be a workable long term solution. Developers can have bursts of hard works, but this can not continue indefinitely.

People need downtime, to give their brain an opportunity to recuperate. Tired minds may have reduced efficiency. A good approach is not to “work and play harder”, but to “work and play smarter”. Web developers who work smartly usually know about themselves and have structured daily life.

One good goal is to have fun when doing side projects, while broadening horizon with positive external activities. Web developers must be vigilant when trying to keep balance, while making sure that all competing priorities won’t be draining for them. People should avoid spending too much time on things that they are not suited to. By understanding weaknesses and external challenges, web developers can seek solutions or simply avoid them. If a web designer is no good at PHP, he shouldn’t waste hours trying to write complex code. People who try to do something they are weak at may take forever to accomplish something, preventing them from doing things that are important.

A good solution is to delegate, by hiring people who could do your tasks much faster at higher quality standards. Learning new things is useful, but it can stop being fun if the task is not suited for you. Pushing yourself too hard can be tiring and demoralizing. That’s the reason web developers shouldn’t jump directly to personal projects after getting home from day job. It’s important to allocate some time to unwind and let our brain to recover. Also don’t work on side projects moments before going to bed as this can play havoc on our sleep patterns, which will undermine our productivity.

Some solid structure is needed if you want to get a balance between life, work and personal projects. It can be surprising to know that limiting work hours won’t affect productivity as much as we think. Web developers can get a lot of things done in less time by taking a few necessary steps. For example, they should stop fluttering between tasks, such as checking emails every 5 minutes. Resist it!
The Podomoro technique is a popular, simple technique to get ourselves focused. It breaks our work days into multiple 30-minute chunks. Each is consisted of 25 non-stop works and 5 breaks. A good way to do this is to group similar tasks together, such as checking email and communicating through instant messaging. Nothing will focus our mind better than working for 25 minutes until the alarm goes off. After one month, Podomoro technique can set up our habit and improve productivity, which is quite motivating for developers.

Finally, web developers need to ensure that main job, recreation and side projects; all have equal priority in their mind. There is a number of task manager software that can keep all their tasks organized. Many professionals use tasks list only for their works, but not for other parts of their life. Consequently, main job tends to become more prioritized than other activities. Web developers should look commonality between main job, side projects and daily life. It is possible to achieve so many things to get positive impacts from these areas.

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