Side project gardening

Thanks for all your responses to my cry for help on side projects yesterday. Here is some of the advice you provided.

Public accountability is always a useful lever that gives you some (hopefully) healthy social pressure:

Make them (or the work in progress) public and start telling people about them - even if it’s only family - that way there’s a peer pressure to keep them moving or admit they’re dead.

I think this reader means to admit that the project is dead, not your family…

One reader even wrote in to tell me about a family history side project. Telling a few people in the family would most definitely create some interest and delivery pressure.

It’s also useful to build up the habit of finishing, even if you’re hacking it:

if I’m getting really bogged down with side projects that are going nowhere then one of my things to do is a “finisher” project. I’ll pick something in a different discipline - so if it’s a code project I’ll do something with Lego, for example - and do something small and disposable but importantly set a finish line and do what it takes to get over it quickly.

At the same time, sometimes it’s fun to work on the details:

if I’m getting fed up with doing move fast and break things type work I’ll pick part of something and get down into polishing trivial details that are never going to be noticed.

Having said all this, it’s important to remember that it’s OK not to work on side projects. The GaryV notion of hustle makes me uncomfortable at the best of times, and side projects are meant to be enjoyable:

I just struggle to even think about having a side project.

Other hobbies and interests may be a better idea. After all, they provide their own lessons:

My garden is in a perpetual state of un-finishedness. I did make a compost bin that looks like a beehive though, quite chuffed with that.

Which reminds me: I need to give the garden some serious autumn attention.

All the best,

– Jim

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