Making time for side projects

Josh Sherman
5 min read

I’m absolutely sick and tired of hearing people complain about not having any time for their side projects. Even worse is when I get asked the seemingly presumptive “how do you find for side projects when you have a family?” Rarely does that question get asked without a tone that implies that I’m neglecting something by having side projects. Believe it or not, I find ways to work on my side projects without interfering with my job or my home life. My family isn’t an excuse for not working on side projects, they are what fuels me to do so. Fueled to build things that could potentially impact a community or even become revenue generating side businesses both of which would benefit our tribe.

Where do I find the time? Well right out of the gate, after working all day and spending time with the family, I get on my second shift grind. After the kiddo goes to bed one of two things could happen. First, I could sit on the couch with the wife and watch TV while winding down before bed. Sure, I could work on my laptop but I don’t find “couch coding” to be as productive as working in my office.

The other thing that could, and usually does, happen is that I knock out 2 or 3 hours of work in the evening. Does my wife mind that I am not sitting on the couch, holding hands and acting like some co-dependent weirdo with her? Absolutely not, in fact I’m pretty sure she prefers it because we don’t generally watch the same television shows. She gets her TV time to watch her trite reality shows that I despise and I get my work time. Couple of nights a week, usually on the weekends, we’ll watch movies or whatever and we get our time out periodically for date nights. I try not to “work play”, I pick one or the other and focus on it exclusively.

Time with the wife is covered, what about spending time with the kiddo? During the week she’s got school and her extracurriculars so for the most part, her day is pretty packed. As a family we make sure that we sit down and eat dinner together every single night we can, which is most nights. After dinner we usually play Uno or video games and hang until she goes to bed. That’s about as much time as you’d have without a side project occupying your time. We also try to get out for breakfast one day during the weekend just her and I and as of late, we’ve been going out one day a week of “daddy daughter” lunch. Weekends for the most part are spent relaxing and doing family stuff during the day.

That cover’s the main objections of not having time due to having a family. People often say that they are just “done” by the end of the day after work. Being burned out by your day job is a whole other topic that as I would say, “just isn’t a problem that I have”. Simply put, I fucking love to code and sure, some days I’m exhausted, but never to the point that I wouldn’t be able to invest some time into working on some of my other projects.

I always say that if my day job were to leave me so uninspired at the end of the day that it’s probably time to switch careers. Thus far that hasn’t been an issue, in fact, I’m not entirely sure when I’m more motivated, when I’m engaging in compelling work all day or when I’m not. If your job doesn’t inspire you, you may want to consider finding something new to do.

How much time do I actually work on my side projects? That was actually a question I couldn’t answer until recently. As an experiment to see how much of my day is spent working on various things, I started to use Toggl to track my time.

Interested in Toggl? Check out this great review!

I don’t get granular on what specific tasks I’m working on, just projects in general. Work,, and working on my blogs are what I am focusing on right now. I’ll save how I prioritize what side projects I work on for next week’s post.

Depending on the week, I end up logging around 50 to 55 hours a week and am trying to get that up to the 60 to 65 hour range. The past few weeks have allowed the wife and I a few additional date nights and coming into my birthday week, I’ve been taking some more time to chill. I’m considering starting to log all of my activities for a few weeks just to see actually how much time I truly spend in front of the idiot box, with the family and fishing on top of productive work time.

The bulk of my logged time is my job, which ends up giving me about 10 or so hours allocated to side projects. Blogging generally takes 1 to 2 hours a week and has been less than an hour a week to manage pull requests and such. The rest of the time has been allocated to and my social networking platform. That’s the area I want to improve upon and get up to 18-20 hours a week.

Without tracking my time, I wouldn’t have had any insight to how I’m allocating my free time. I know I work a lot but it’s good to have a clear picture of where your time is going, especially when you want to make sure your projects aren’t stagnating. Next time you utter the words “I don’t have the time” take a moment to think about all of the stupid shit you do all week. Going out, watching TV, boozin’, playin’ video games. It adds up and you probably do have the time if you’re willing to find it.

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About Josh

Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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