Starting a side project can seem like a daunting task.
When we already have work, school, family, friends, hobbies, and relaxation vying for our attention, adding another “thing” to our plate – especially when that thing is optional – seems like a lot to ask of ourselves.
But it’s not as hard as you might initially think.
I started Bodeefit as a side project and didn’t leave my job to work on it full-time until we had several thousand users.
I wrote both of my books as side projects, squeezing in 500 words each morning and night.
I’m writing these daily essays as a side project by making the most of my lunch and break periods throughout the day.
And that’s on top of having a wife and 2 young kiddos at home!
If you’ve ever wanted to pursue a side project of any sort – a blog, writing a book, starting a business – I’m here to tell you it’s possible. But to do it, there’s a few key things that you have to do.
This is the single most important piece of advice when it comes to starting a side project. You have to start small. The more you complicate what you’re trying to do, the easier it will be to fail. The more you try to accomplish at once, the easier it will be to get overwhelmed and quit. The more you neglect the other parts of your life, the easier it will be to burn out.
Side projects should be like snowballs – start with a single snowflake and let them build.
That means if you want to write a book, start by thinking of the title, or the outline, or the general theme. Or start with a single chapter. Or start with the introduction. Whatever you start with, just start with something that lets you accomplish a small win and build from there.
Side projects and full fledged businesses alike all start the same – with small actions taken consistently over time.
When I used to coach people at Bodeefit, one of the first things I would have them do is schedule their workouts on their calendar each day. This calendar appointment was to be treated just like any other important meeting – a review with your boss, a meeting with a client, etc. – it’s something you don’t miss unless an emergency arises.
Side projects are no different. If you’re already a busy person, thinking that you’ll just “find time” at some point in your day to work on a side project is a false hope. Your other priorities will always expand to take up your time.
If you’re serious about starting a side project, you have to be serious enough to block out 30 minutes or an hour on your calendar each day to take action on it.
Most side projects die on the vine because of a lack of commitment. Similar to the point above about time blocking, side projects have to be committed to. Ideally that means you commit to make progress on it every day. But if that’s not realistic for you, then at least commit to take action each weekend day.
What you can’t do is leave the project up to the whims of fate, working on it here and there. Momentum is everything in a side project, and you can never build momentum if you’re attention to it is sporadic.
I love side projects. They’re one of the great joys of my life because they allow me to creatively express myself without having to depend on the work to pay my bills or feed my family. I hope you get the courage to try one as well if you feel the nudge to do so.
And if you do? Start small, put it on the calendar, and commit.