How to Choose Your Side Projects

Jeronimo De Leon
DAYONE — A new perspective.
3 min readJan 5, 2017


Look through lenses when deciding how to spend your time.

There are many positive reasons on why you should have a side project such as, personal growth, increased creativity, financial opportunities, education and more.

My close friends know that I have side projects list that runs as long as my arm. I use an app called Clear to add, review and re-order them from time to time. The difficult part for me is deciding which ones I should spend time on first.

At a few places I have worked, we evaluated client projects through these three lenses: Fun, Fame, and Fortune.

  • Fun
    Will the team enjoy working on this?
  • Fame
    Will the project bring us industry recognition?
  • Fortune
    Will the project bring in significant revenue?

In a perfect world, you would find work projects at the intersection of these three lenses.

Most of the projects we took in were heavily weighted on the fortune side. However, our primary goal was to make sure that potential projects overlapped on at least two out of three lenses.

For example

  • The client may not have a large budget but we know the project will be a lot of fun and bring in industry recognition. This was the case when I worked on the Durex Fundawear project, a mobile app that connected to vibrators in your partner’s underwear. The client budget was small but we decided to over-invest. To date, it has been the most fun I have had working on a project. The project also made international press and won global industry awards. This in turn brought in more clients for us.
  • When the project is heavily weighted in financial gain, we need to ask: how could we inject some fun into it?

We found projects that crossed over two lenses had more successful outcomes than projects that only had one lense.

But enough about work, you get the picture.

The short amount of time we have outside of work is precious so what are the different types of lenses that we could use to filter, prioritize and help us become more focused on our goals? Here are some that come to mind:

  • Personal Growth
    Will this project help you grow in the areas you want to further develop and/or move you out of your comfort zone?
  • Education
    Is this a project that will teach you something new or help you gain new skills?
  • Passion
    Is this a project or topic that you care about?
  • Career
    Is this project something that you can place in your portfolio to help get you to your next job?
  • Fun
    Will you have fun while working on this project or will this just be unfulfilling busy work?
  • Profit
    Will the project generate an additional income for you?
  • Collaboration
    Will this project allow you to collaborate with new people or strengthen bonds with those you already know?
  • Service
    Will this project make an impact or help others in any way?

Let me know if you can think of any others.

So now my 2017 is looking something like this:

Side projects can be difficult to complete if not selected properly. It’s important to evaluate them through the right lenses. Similarly to the process for selecting projects at work, I believe a project that crosses over multiple lenses tends to have more success. Having multiple underlying reasons why you’re doing it in the first place will sustain motivation and help you progress.

Even better if it’s fun! If it’s something you enjoy there is a greater chance you’ll stick through with it. One of my favorite quotes is:

Time enjoyed is never time wasted.”

All the best with your 2017 side projects!



Jeronimo De Leon
DAYONE — A new perspective.

Founder of www.Welcome.AI — Helping companies learn and adopt artificial intelligence within their business.