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:wave: Hey hey, I'm @michaelsoolee! I'm a dad and maker of digital and software products.

How I've managed to work on side projects during the pandemic

Written on May 17, 2020

It’s been hard to focus on side projects these days. For me, side projects have always been a way to learn new things, unwind and have fun. But during this time — with the pandemic — I’ve found that it’s hard for me to find motivation and focus to work on side projects.

Although I feel pretty good health-wise, I’ve noticed that there is a little bit of a mental load that lingers from day to day.

I’m still figuring out ways to stay motivated but I wanted to share some steps that I’ve found helpful in moving me forward with small side projects again.

When inspiration strikes, make way for it

I found this in my Instagram feed and I thought to myself, “Wow that looks so clean and nice but it’d look nicer in a different type”; like those found on Google Font.

So I put together some HTML and CSS, grabbed a few fonts from Google Fonts and played around with coming up with a calendar layout.

Inspiration may come from anywhere and at any time; when it does start with something small and simple. I could’ve started with a JavaScript project but instead I started with HTML and CSS working with a table element. A super basic setup so I can focus on the fun stuff like layout and font selection.

Start small with a reachable end

The end result I wanted was to able to see a single month calendar in the font I chose and be able to print it out from my browser. In defining a clear end goal, I could see that devoting a couple of hours over a few days and would lead to the results I was looking for.

In doing this I didn’t feel overwhelmed because of a crazy big project. I knew that I could reach the end of this little project within a few nights and I would have the results I was looking for.

Iterate

Once you’ve reached your end goal. Now you can choose to stop. Or you could keep going and iterate on the project towards a new goal.

Again choose another small reachable end. Limit yourself to just a week.

Share with your cheerleaders

Find a friend who also likes to work on side projects and share your ideas with them. It is a great way to motivate one another and you can be each others cheerleader.

If you’ve got an email list, share it with your readers. Give them exclusive access to the cool stuff you’re creating.

Share your side projects with me, I’d love to hear what you’re working on. If you’re on Twitter, shoot me at tweet @michaelsoolee.

It is ok

Even after reading these tips and didn’t find any of them helpful. It is ok. Nothing is normal right now. And that is reason enough to be ok. Be ok with not having motivation to work on anything. Be ok with finding what helps right now — be it watching TV, doing garden work, having time away from your side projects. Be ok with choosing to stay healthy and happy.

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