The side project shuffle

Thanks for your Monday morning updates yesterday. It was great to hear about the varied work that interests and excites you.

After doing a whole bunch of not-so-exciting admin yesterday, I was inspired by your emails to work on a side project for a bit in the evening. But as is often the case, I succumbed to a bad case of yak-induced inertia.

For some reason, I find working alone on a project much harder than in the past. I’ve become used to working with other people to fix issues, choose appropriate ways forward and generally keep each other going. Unfortunately, my tolerance to hiccups is much less when working by myself.

This is all made much worse by the conundrum that is side project technology choice. It’s tricky enough to guide a team through appropriate technology and architecture choices, but often those choices are naturally constrained by circumstances.

When I’m working on my own stuff, you’d think I would enjoy being free of such constraints. Instead, the freedom can feel like a curse. I try much newer libraries and technologies, but the hype curve of these seems to have been reduced to about a day now. It’s become much easier to spot difficulties in documentation, community help and integration issues. Frustration ensues. It all seems so unnecessarily complex.

So then I start again and switch to a deliberately spartan, vanilla approach. I’ll just use HTML, CSS and JavaScript in their purest forms. I’ll add minimal extras only when I feel the pain of not having them. It’ll be lean and mean.

But this quickly starts to feel like treading old ground. It’s just not fun enough. It also gets frustrating pretty quickly. And so I wonder why I’m working on this side project at all if it isn’t for fun.

With far less time to be able to put into side projects now, this can be frustrating. It used to be something I did to keep myself fresh and interested when the day job was more repetitive.

Of course, I know what the answer is here: keep it simple and ship something. Anything. Fire a tracer bullet and see where it hits. I try to help teams ship things faster, so why not take my own advice? A classic case of the cobbler’s children going barefoot.

How do you get your side projects going? Hit reply and help me out, will ya?

All the best,

– Jim

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