(Part 2/3): Start Your Side Project

Start your side project like slowly climbing up a mountain.
Image credits: Unsplash

(This is Part 2 of 3 in a series on building your side project. Click for Part 1 and Part 3)

Having figured out what to do, you might now be wondering how to start your side project. 

You do not have to be overwhelmed when thinking of starting and finishing something on your own. 

Nor do you have to cast everything aside to focus on this one thing (yes, you’ll still have a life). 

By creating a plan for your project, making the commitment, and incorporating a routine, you’ll know what to work on and when, keep motivated, and maintain balance.

Creating a plan for your project

Broadly speaking, a side project involves the stages of:

  • Ideation – coming up with the project hypothesis
  • Validation – testing if the project will get the desired end result
  • Execution – turning the project into reality
  • Growth – sharing your project

Half the battle is knowing what to do; therefore, creating an outline for your project based on these stages will provide you with the foresight and structure to execute. 

For example, here’s the outline of the After Hour Projects podcast in the above format:

  • Ideation – crafting the main message of the podcast of sharing stories of side projects and brainstorming initial list of guests
  • Validation – conducting initial conversations with others about side projects and getting feedback on pain points
  • Execution – creating a page on the Anchor podcast publishing platform, securing the first guest, recording and publishing the first episode
  • Growth – sharing new episodes on social media, publishing weekly issues of the newsletter, finding ways to partner with others

Add in a set start and end date, and you’ll know what to do and when to do it.

Making the commitment to your project

It’s easy to lose motivation for something when there are no deadlines. In order to avoid this, create ones for yourself! 

Share what you are working on with someone else or a group so that they can keep you accountable. 

Otherwise, share publicly by posting something on social media, announcing your project to everyone – imagine how it will feel weeks later when you’ve finished your project and can follow through with the results. 

While sometimes it does take going all-in to get the desired result, you can still create a sense of urgency on your own.

Incorporating routine into your project

Working on a project doesn’t have to feel like “extra” work nor get lost in everything going on when part of a routine.

Plus, it’s surprising how much we can get done by working consistently over a period of time.

The best way? Find a set time each day to work on your project – one hour each day is enough.

Don’t fret too much on finding the optimal time: it’s a process of trial-and-error. By simply starting and making the effort, you’ll be building momentum and learning what works best for you. 

As for me, I used the time in the morning before heading into work to focus on my job search, sending out emails and creating content to build my personal brand. This daily process only took around 45 minutes but greatly helped as I was the most refreshed, fueling my creativity and spurring me to action.

Due to the earlier start time of my current job, I switched my project time to the evenings after going to the gym and eating dinner, before I unwound for the next day. Knowing exactly what to do, I chip away at the task to get towards where I want.

Take a guess at what could work for you, do it, and adjust accordingly to create a routine.

There’s no secret to start your side project, but planning, commitment, and routine all come in handy. 

Once you create an outline, set your mind to it, and start, you’ll see that side projects aren’t as overwhelming as they may seem.

Now go forth and execute!

(This is Part 2 of 3 in a series on building your side project. Click for Part 1 and Part 3)

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