Shutting Down Side Projects

For as long as I can remember, I've had a couple of side projects going. Often, they're software projects that help me exercise my coding brain and get to know new technologies; other times they're more content-oriented, sometimes they're explorations of a potential business ideas. Sometimes they're a little bit of all of these things. In the past, I've been relatively content to let these things peter along on their own schedules, and not particularly stressing about whether or not they come to full fruition. But I've got some new demands on my attention that are forcing me to be a little more strict with my time (new house, new job, new puppy, new baby - just a few). The bottom line - it's time to shut some shit down, at least for now.

I'm not quite done with this process, but the first thing I did was make a list of the projects in flight - I counted 8 of them:

  • Personal Blog (this blog)
  • Periodic Table of Marketing Metrics (content resource for beginning digital marketers)
  • DIYM (online digital marketing course)
  • Quantopian Algos (trading algorithms)
  • Stockdash (stock management web app)
  • Zeke (homeowner conceirce app)
  • Stock Picking (daily/weekly technical analysis routine)
  • Ember Fire (physical product idea)

These are all in various stages of maturity, have different "MVP" requirements, different levels of effort required, and varying prospects for any kind of remuneration, financial or otherwise. But one thing is for certain - spreading my energy across this many avenues is formula for inaction. There is simply no way I have enough time to make all of these a reality.

This alone was a crucial reality check for me - while I could easily have named all the projects that took up some of my attention, writing them all down helped to put it in perspective. I'd be lucky make one or two of these come to life. So how to prioritize them?

I had to get a handle on my time. Turns out this, too, was less than I would have guessed. Without changing anything major in the other parts of my life, I have about 8 hours a week of time I can count on to dedicate to these projects, and of those only about 2 are consecutive blocks where a large chunk of work could be knocked off. A full 4 occur during my commute in 30 minute intervals with limited connectivity. So we're really talking somewhere in the neighbor of 3-4 hours of "all-systems-go" working time. Whoah. Big reality check number two.

So far, the only decision I've made is that this blog is a worthy investment for some of that time - namely the 30 minute morning commute blocks. It produces a work output that has both personal and professional benefits, fits neatly in the avaialble time block, and hopefully begins to force a little more discipline and habit into my side project approach.

As for the rest of the projects, I've yet to determine which ones live, die, or take a different shape. But I can guarantee some of them will need to die.