From Burnout to Breakthrough
Reflections on Balancing Side Projects and Mental Health
I started strong in the spring, working on my side project almost every night. It was a lot of fun, but at the same time, I was spending all of my free time on it. From a mental health perspective, there are healthier ways to do this long-term.
When I went on holiday this summer, I worked on the project in the evenings, at least for the first few days. But then, I finally allowed myself to take a break from it and just chill. What happened next was I kept chillin’ through the rest of my holiday and then for a good while after it ended.
After that, we started doing some home improvement and renovations 🪚. When you have a full-time job and a family, there just isn’t enough time in a day. So, I took a break from side projects through most of the fall. This break gave me time and clarity to think about why and how I’m doing this.
I enjoy building things in general, both in code and physically, so I intend to keep doing that. Though I’ve realized I approached this from the wrong angle. I started this hugely ambitious project that needed months and months of work. I should have begun creating something much smaller, shipped it, iterated on it, and shipped some more. Either by building upon it or by doing another small thing. This would have been even more fun if I had shared it more. I did share screenshots and the like, but I should have focused on getting to a point where other people could test it and give me feedback.
Anyway, I’m back now, a new and improved version of myself, complete with enhanced mental health and a hopefully higher IQ. And I will stick to my original plan. I’m still making a Git tool for merge conflicts, but as I wrote in my original post, I needed to build many smaller supporting components before tackling merge conflicts becomes possible.
At first, I'll use these components to build a simple Git client, and then I can take on improving the merge process.— Steffen (@starv) April 11, 2022
What I will do now is I will ship these smaller parts before continuing toward the original goal. I opened up the Gitonium project the other day and took an overview of what I actually have here. Looking at it with relatively fresh eyes, it’s a friendly little Git client. There are no fancy features yet, but it does do a couple of things well. What if I just clean this up as it is now and release it?
Ultimately, it comes down to learning to manage your time and spending it wisely. We don’t have infinite time, and I have very little time left over on a typical day, so I have to make sure what I spend it on gives me value. Shipping will give me value, so I will focus on doing that.
You’ll be hearing more from me again soon!