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I am nearing the end of developing the major pieces of my website that I have been working on in my spare time for the last 3 months. My goal is to get it released by the end of next month and hopefully start making some money on it. Unfortunately the next step will be to write a lot of specific data handling and ui code that I can see becoming very tedious and boring.

When I was first started the project I was able to find time for working on it easily, it was interesting and writing the back-end was new. Once I got to the start of writing stuff that I know and do at work (ui), it seemed harder and harder to make myself work on the project, sometimes the last thing I want to do when I get home from work is code again.

Anyone in the same situation? Any tips on how to find time and effort for side projects without burning out? Any tips on staying on the right track?

EDIT-Update

Thanks for all the input, I really appreciate it. My and another friend are in on this website together, I'm doing all the coding he's doing the design, marketing etc. Obviously I don't have strict deadlines but our goal was to have it released by the end of July. I have no plans to lease the coding work to someone else. I am using a ui and back-end framework, the code is going to get tedious but the frameworks are both major time savers. My plan of action is to treat it like a job and really force myself to put hours in.

Hopefully in a couple of months I'll be able to edit this and promote my website :)

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Look for a collaborator ... sell the idea to him, if you don't want to do all the work. He/she can even be the UI person! –  Marcelo Jun 21 '11 at 23:33
    
Go read this: highscalability.com/plentyoffish-architecture –  Christopher Mahan Jun 21 '11 at 23:40
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+1 for a good question, I've done few person projects and UI is always the most tedious section. You could consider asking a UI (HTML) friend or work college to help you out? –  Nickz Jun 22 '11 at 2:11
    
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I've voted this as a duplicate - I realize that there are subtle differences in context, but the question that's actually being asked here focuses on the motivation aspect and not time management, just as the original does. –  Aaronaught Jun 23 '11 at 0:22
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5 Answers

up vote 21 down vote accepted

I will swim against the current here and tell you: "Get rest, have fun!"

I was in a similar situation although my application was nearer to completion I think. And it just bored the hell out of me. Especially the fact that you want to earn money with it puts some pressure onto you that is hard to bear in addition to a full time job.

I got very demotivated but forced myself to work on it every day which made me at least a little bit grumpy. At one point my wife "commanded" ;) me to stay the ** away from the computer for at least one week and play Playstation, go out, whatever I think is fun.

Well, I did. I think it took 2-3 weeks but suddenly I longed to work on it again and still do.

So, don't sacrifice your personal life even more if you don't have to and if it isn't fun at all anymore. You have a full time job after all, so you are not dependent on a quick release.

Of course there is the danger of losing all interest in the project but then you have to ask yourself it it really was worth it from the beginning.

So, to avoid burnout, stop burning yourself out. ;)

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+1 for "So, to avoid burnout, stop burning yourself out." - sounds stupid, but has so much truth in it. –  znq Jun 22 '11 at 15:27
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+1. I've flirted with burnout, and she is a cruel mistress. If you take a break, chances are that you'll eventually feel like working on it again, and actually enjoy it! –  Sodel Jun 22 '11 at 17:40
    
+1, this deadline is arbitrary. Step back and get rest and the 10 km view. –  user1249 Jun 22 '11 at 18:07
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For me, it turned out that the sweet spot for side projects is the time between 10pm and midnight. It's quiet, and I can get a lot of stuff done when I don't have to expect any interruptions. Working longer than two hours makes me tired the next day, so I rather avoid that. Don't put too much pressure on yourself, or you will burn out or lose interest in the project.

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I had a similar problem, my best advice (which neither of us are following) is then you get home from work, get in the habbit of putting in at least a couple of hours of work on your projects. During this time, remove any distractions (such as lurking stackexchange =p) and work like you would at your job. This way you don't end up avoiding a few boring, but ultimately trivial tasks and stall the project.

That's what it took for me, your mileage may vary!

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+1 for "which neither of us are following" –  pllee Jun 22 '11 at 0:34
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I find that revisiting the reasons for doing the extra project helps getting the focus back in line. For me, my personal projects are my attempts to gain long term benefits for my family.

So when I get home from my day job, my family time starts. I would spend as much time as I can with my kids and my wife. That is typically about 3-4 hours. After that, I would spend about 1 to 2 hours on the personal projects, if I am not too tired.

Sometimes, I don't really achieve much in that 1-2 hours but that's OK as it a slow process. Tortoise and the hare...

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"sometimes the last thing I want to do when I get home from work is code again."

This is perfectly natural, many many programmers encounter this. My advice is slowly putter through it on the weekend, ideally with a collaborator to help stay focused and on topic. Because you do it for a living, don't expect it to be fun, just try to get it done in a timeframe your comfortable with so that you can move on to the more exciting tasks.

Focus on those more exciting things to help get you through bouts of demotivation. If it's not something you need for the next stage, you might even consider leaving it on the backburner for a potential contributor to tackle for you (if it's FOSS, checkout openhatch for attracting contributors).

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