~ About 3 minutes read.

Part 2

Today I'm going to share a couple of tips on how to exploit every side project forcing it to bring new value to your development career. Here's part one of the series, in which I dig into motivation and how it influences your projects.

How

After you have committed to execute on a project, you can start having fun with it. While doing so, what I find to be extremely rewarding is to throw in new stuff every time I do something.

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Wouldn't you end up like this dude if you did that?

Well, kinda, let me explain.

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The thing is that if you used new frameworks, new libraries, new whatever on each and every one of your projects you are pretty doomed to become a jack of all trades, and definitely a master of none. That is because you won't have the physical time to explore and to experiment with a framework because you'll have to move to another one by the time you have finished your project.

Keep a couple of defaults, rotate the rest

This approach provides both the excitement of learning new things and the safety of relying upon consolidated elements. Currently I'm developing hybrid mobile apps in my free time, Ionic and AngularJS are my defaults, and over the years I've added first Sass and Jade(now Pug), then Gulp, Browsersync, Angular Material and so on.
This will eventually give you time to explore every part of your project and to slowly master your framework(s) of choice, and everything else around it.

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That's all well and good, but wouldn't it be better to specialize on something?

Maybe, or maybe not. It depends.

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Rachel Smith said that better on this awesome pen of hers.
There are pros and cons to both, if you specialize you have the competence necessary to take on bigger projects, with everything that comes with it, but you ONLY act on a specific subset of all the projects available. Whereas if you diversify your skill set, you have way more opportunities available, but you may not be a suitable candidate for them, since you don't have the same expertise of a specialist in the field. Now, there are a couple more things to consider.
If you are a developer, and you love it, chances are learning is not your problem, so you might as well start expanding what you study. You may also be attached to your habits, on the other hand, and changing isn't easy, whether you decided to lose a ton of weight or you decided to switch your laptop mouse with a new one. By changing only a couple of things you get the benefits of learning new stuff, while also master your defaults. This has worked wonders for me personally.

Take calculated risks

The best part about side projects is that you can afford to risk something and drop in new things. Not only I suggest bringing in new tools, I do also urge you to try implementing something you've never tried to do. This is the perfect chance, and you may end up developing something actually useful, so there's nothing to lose.

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What if I get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I have to do?

This could open a discussion of its own, but let me give you a couple of suggestions.

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First things first, our brain is not quite good in handling massive tasks like a whole project. What it is great at doing is focusing on small tasks, frequently repeated and built into habits. This is why you may have heard to divide your goals in actionable chunks, which your brain can tackle and act upon. This is especially useful when you "don't feel like it". You might be able to stay focused on the bigger picture when you are in the mood, but on those days in which nothing seems to go right it really helps to have taken the time to had developed a plan for the day, or a to-do list. Trello and Todoist are a couple of the best task managers. They both are very customizable, and both can be used to tackle personal projects or just remind you to call your mom on her birthday.
I prefer to sketch everything on a piece of paper actually, as there's more freedom to draw and write, but that's basically up to you.

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Hey boss, can you lend me 10 euros?

Maybe, or maybe not. It depends.

DUDE!

Is that why you have not been annoying today?

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