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Building a Side-Project Without Burning Out

Published on January, 2022
Kevin J. Hanna
Building Stacked | Hummus & Tech host

Side-projects are fun. They sharpen your skills and open new opportunities.

But without strong constraints they become extra work, more stress on your plate.

Smart barriers make you narrow your focus, and keep you healthy.

For the last 10 years I’ve been building side-projects. These are the top 3 constraints I had to learn the hard way:

# 1 Focus on what you really want to be doing

Avoid unnecessary steps in your process.

Get real with yourself. If you want to start writing, then start writing. Don’t start by building your perfect blogging platform.

Use as many shortcuts as you find to start working on the actual thing you wanted to work on.

For example, if you want to build an app but learning a new tech stack is not your focus, then use a no-code approach.

# 2 Upkeep is hell

Steer away from processes that demand constant upkeep.

When your project involves human work, delegate. Either find a paid freelancer, or ask a friend to join you. Automation might be the worst choice here (read item #1 again).

When your side-project involves code:

When working with content, go for evergreen content. E.g: Episodes on my podcast Hummus and Tech were relevant for our audience 3 years ago, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Thus, projects can go a long time before they need any tech update.

# 3 Set priorities and time boundaries

Side-projects are side projects. Understand they are not a priority. Don’t let them interfere with your life, your sleep or your job.

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