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Side Projects

It's Saturday morning. Early morning. Coffee. Thinking. More coffee. Some browsing. And some more coffee with a side of more thinking about what to do today.

Reading. Browsing some more. Oh ... here's is an interesting blog post about uploading data from an IoT device to the cloud. More coffee.

It's now two hours later and I'm sketching out some ideas on how I could build a simple cloud app that would collect data from a few Raspberry PIs, aggregate and process this data, and then display it in some nice charts. Hm ... sounds like work. Like actual "work" work. But it isn't. This is what I do for fun. 

It's a fun side project. Sure, I could be riding my mountain bike, or weed the yard (not fun!). How about tending to my garden vegetables which are mostly dead now (because no green thumbs!). That's another side project anyway. But it's 90+ degrees outside and humid, and besides, I can't let go of this IoT project.

Sure, this would be yet another (probably never-to-be-finished) side project. But it'll be so much fun! And that's the main purpose of a side project for me: have fun! And if I can learn some new skills in the process, even better!

I need side projects to keep me sane. The very thought of not having anything to do is foreign to me. Now, this does not mean that I never feel the urge of just doing nothing.

In fact, that happens quite often. The end result is then often a nice afternoon nap, or a few hours of binge-watching Netflix. Or I may end up browsing the interwebs, or head out to some coffee shop, or do everything at the same time. 

Then the vicious cycle starts again -- I come across some interesting blog post and start thinking about how I can apply that new piece of knowledge to an ongoing or new side project. And we're off to the races!

As a side note, I have benefitted quite a bit from working on all these side projects in my day-job. Yes, even from the ones that never went anywhere. I've been able to learn new skills. I've tried things and learned what works or doesn't, and so on.

Many of my side project involve programming, which happens to be one of my favorite pastimes (who would have thunk it?). And while my day-job is all about technology, it (sadly) does not require that I write code anymore.

Instead I get my kicks from all these side projects. And, a side effect of all this playing around, I'm able to stay up-to-date with current technology trends. This, of course, comes in handy when we need to make strategic decisions about technology in my day-job.

I see so many posts -- often in the form of silly click-baity listicles -- about how to be more effective, more successful, more productive, and more everything. These posts usually suggest that one wake up no later 5am (better yet at 4am!), run a marathon (or two), have at the most glass of warm water with lemon for breakfast, write a whole novel, and read "War and Peace".

And, of course, all this should be done before heading off to the office for a 16+ hour workday. Because only slackers sleep more than 2 hours per night and work less than 168 hours per week (see what I did there?).

This whole "be the mostest bestest and awesomest ever" is a topic for another post. But for now, let's agree that side projects should not be "work" work. Why? Because then it's just more work! Instead side projects should be fun and interesting and enjoyable.

Photo by rawpixel