How to actually ship your side projects
Finding dead ends #
After working on your idea for days/weeks or months you may find a block that seems imposible to overcome.
Maybe you feel that your skill is not enough for the problem you are tackling, or there's another difficulty like:
- Loss of motivation
- Feeling that the state of the project is a mess
- Doubting if it's valuable
- Need tools that cost more money than you have
What to do?
When I found myself in any of the previous situations I felt frustrated and my mindstate changed. Sometimes you know you only need more work and even if you are tired doing a little more work will be needed.
Other times you just run out of mental fuel and things will look imposible even if they are not.
Having other sources of intellectual satisfaction is very useful. Physical excercise is also very effective to reset your frustration and more than once, going out for a walk or doing a 20 min workout at home has unblocked me.
Ideas worth pursuing #
What's your criteria to pursue an idea and take action on it?
- It's cool
- I have a burning desire to materialize it
- It will be useful to me
- It's challenging, I want to test myself
- It will be valuable to others
I won't tell you which criteria is better than others, however you have to take a look at the incentives and what will happen when you find a task that may be tedious or boring. Depending on your motivation you will continue or procastinate.
For example "being valuable to others" may be a good incentive to a group of peole if they have skin in the game, for example someone wants to help people with a health condition because they have a relative that has it and they know of the struggles.
For others, intelectual challenges are a serious thing and they'll persist until finished. I personally like the idea of creating something that I want and could not find elsewhere (or current alternatives are not ok). I can be specific with my needs instead of trying to think about hypothetical needs of an audience. This worked well with diagram.codes, inevitably
someone else will have a very similar need and will appreciate the work.
Some failures may be prerequisite for a future success. #
Some materialized ideas may not be what you expect (specially on early stages)
and will look simplistic, nonsense, etc. However (and it's difficult to know at the time) they may have planted the seeds for a future idea.
I'm amazed at the power of our brains to connect dots from everywhere. That's why observing without judging is a good skill to cultivate, eventually disconnected observations, results and ideas can result in something that would have been very difficult to think about without all the previous experience (it may be something very different).