Why I Failed to Have Side Projects

At the beginning of last few years, I wrote down a list of things I want to do through out the year. I finished some, gave up some, and some stays on the list. One of the longest staying item is – “start a side project”.

What takes me so long

It is easy to come up with something, but it is even easier to ban the idea. At first I thought maybe it is easier to start when I get more experience, learned more tools, but the truth is, the more you see, the harder you start.

For example, I come up with an idea of building an Android app that provide list of XXX and allow user to do YYY on it. Sometime I would not even start when I find that it is not easy to get the XXX list, or after I wrote some scripts to crawl the list, I get distracted in other idea and put down the started project, sometime you just get tired in work and decided to take a break in weekend.

Obviously I am not determined enough. But another problem I found for myself is, I start losing that kind of fire I had 5 years ago.


Two months ago, I helped in a workshop for my middle school about using AppInventer to build Android apps, targeting F1-F3 students (12-15yo). When I prepared the material, the first thing I found is that, not surprisingly, the tool has VERY limited features. I am not even sure what I can build using that, how do I give advise to those students?

During the workshop, before telling them what the tool can/cannot do, I let them students brainstorm the project topics, and told them not to worry if it is possible, we can “fake” it. Turned out they came up with some interesting idea, of course most are impossible to actually build it with their skill level (or even mine) and with that tool. But seeing their discussion reminded me a very important thing, the excitement.

Don’t think too much

People have different reasons to start side projects, for me, it is simple, just to keep myself motivated and do things that I may not have chance to do in work.

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