The side project

Choosing side-projects

I always have that (creative?) itch to start things. I simply want to start things and dive deep into new ideas and new challenges. It’s like I wake up in the morning and I think: “What if something like that existed? What if I can solve that particular problem, in a more efficient way?”. The younger me would start working on it immidiately. Even mentally. Even with my thoughts only. And after a bit, I would either give up or keep going — to give up later on.

As I grow up, I simply have learnt to drive that passion and that energy, to the right (at least for me) direction. I still have new ideas and new stuff that pops into my head every now and then. I still have that itch to try new things and solve problems — even some problems that have already been solved. But with experience, you can learn to differentiate the ideas that are worth your time from those that are not.

Ideas that worth my time.

Now, this is what I call side-projects: Ideas that are worth your time, qualify as side-projects. And since I am confident that it’s worth my time, I start it right away. I get passionate about it and I find time to think about the high-level execution, details — everything.

Soon I realized that this mentality has a danger underneath it: I had an idea that was worth my time — but after that I had another one. And then, another one. And that number could only grow more and more. The result was overwhelming at times. So, I took a step back, and I thought of another barrier to filter out my ideas even more, before considering them as side projects.

Following the right direction.

Or at least follow the direction that I feel is right. Every side-project I feel the need to start, should be aligned with my high level goal — what I want to accomplish with my career. Now, this may not work for everyone, but it works for me. For example: if I, working as a designer, want to get into photography too, then it’s quite simple. I’ll be open and think about ideas that combine both design and photography. I’ll start learning about photography. I’ll start experimenting with photography and I’ll focus on it. This can be applied for pretty much everything. This might sound like no-brainer to you, I get it. But I believe focus is important. And, having said that, it’s easy to get lost in low-level everyday details and start doing something that leads you nowhere.

On top of that, I always take my time and think if the path/career I picked is the right for me. Because if I realise that I am not happy doing what I’m doing, or I don’t like the kind of projects I work on, I have to change.


Andrew is a designer currently pushing pixels at Avocarrot. Feel free to view his work on Behance, browse progress shots on Dribbble or share your thoughts on Twitter.