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The Most Important Side Project You Can Work On

There are a few unhealthy discussions going around the tech world. The requirement to have a side project is among my favourites. If you don’t have a side project, the industry deems you’re not passionate enough. You must have a podcast, make clothes with your name on them, or code away at night during weekends, trying to put something together that will show just how involved you are. Kind of like staying late in the office to show your commitment, but not doing any real work.

Don’t get me wrong; side projects are alright. It’s this talk about having to have a side project that bothers me.

It’s easy to feel guilty about not having a side project. It’s just like feeling guilty for leaving the office on time, when others stay to work late. But it’s all bullshit. It’s okay not to have a side project, as long as you work on the most important project of them all: yourself.

I spend time each day listening to podcasts, reading, writing, meditating, improving as a person, volunteering for a non-profit, learning new skills, and generally sucking knowledge in different industries like a sponge. No side project can bring you all that.

A side project can make you better at whatever it is you’re doing. But there’s always going to be someone better than you. The fact of the matter is the best people don’t always get the gig. I like to spread out and learn as much as possible from other industries, as well as develop as a human being — improving the total package, as I like to call it. That’s what will make the difference in the end.

This goes to show the effect of learning a little bit every day

This goes to show the effect of learning a little bit every day

Don’t worry if you struggle coming up with an idea for a side project. It will come when it will come. In the meantime, make sure you work on yourself. It’s alright to learn something new, even if you don’t do it through a side project. It’s also alright to learn stuff that’s not relevant to your industry. Everything you learn can be relevant to your job sooner or later. And it’s also alright to go home after work and binge-watch a series on Netflix, without having to think about design.

Don’t give into the side projects mania. The most important is to learn something every day. Learn like it’s your only way to becoming who you want to be, get the job you want, or marry the partner you’ve always dreamed of. Because it is.