7 Helpful Tips for Reach the Finish Line on Your No Code Side Project
Working on a personal side project is one of the more exciting parts of being in tech. Not only is this an opportunity to learn new skills or sharpen old skills, it also gives you the opportunity to satisfy your inner desire to solve problems you deem important.
The thrill that comes from imagining what could be brought into material existence upon completion of the project is simply unmatched. It creates a burst of energy in you that gets you to start that next project. But it can sometimes fizzle out, with the project going into the shelf unfinished.
Developing an app in your spare time is simple with the right no code learning resources, but being simple does not mean it's necessarily easy. For starters, spare time is scarce and what’s available seems ideal for leisure or social activities.
Whether you’re creating an app for fun, to help you develop new skills to increase your income earning potential or as a side hustle/new business, finishing your side project comes with a lot of benefits. Nothing matches the delight and fulfillment of seeing a project you started come to its successful conclusion. Plus, you also feel happier showing it off to the world!
So, how can you ensure your next side project doesn’t go in the list of “projects I started but never finished”? Consider these 7 tips I’ve found helpful.
1. Define your goal
This may seem very obvious but it’s something we often miss. What do you want to achieve with this project? What are you building? What would you consider a success?
Define your goal before you begin the project. Think in terms of side-benefits that even if the project didn't reach x point, are there smaller wins you can count as successes? For example, Tim Ferriss started his popular podcast with the smaller goals of learning to ask higher quality questions and improving verbal speech ticks. Add these types of smaller goals in lieu of throwing on a bunch of features and functionality once you’ve started the project. One type of is helpful and provides a tailwind in your sails, the other can take it out.
2. Plan and prepare
Once you’ve defined your goal, it’s time to plan out the project. If you’re going to be too busy at this time, keep the project for later so you don’t abandon it for lack of time. Examine your upcoming events and deadlines, and plan your project around these. Work with a generous deadline in mind.
Next, you want to break down the project into little tasks. This is the stage where you study your project and determine what features or functionalities you’d be working with and create tasks around them. Make sure each task is as small as possible, and organize them according to their order of importance.
Now, when you’re ready to work on your project, all you’ve got to do is pick the next task on the list.
3. Release early and iterate
I know, I know… Your app has to be perfect so the world doesn’t laugh at you. But the truth is, no one really cares that much. Besides, releasing doesn’t have to be public. Instead, it gives you a chance to measure your progress.
Waiting until the app is perfect before release is the hill that kills many projects. Instead, release your project after the base functionality has been added. Then, release again each time a new feature is added.
Releasing regularly provides you with a tangible output that energizes you to keep going. It also helps you get over the fear of sharing your work with others. Since it isn’t perfect during the first release, every update is an improvement.
4. Go for function over style
This point carries over from the last. When working on a project, always pursue function over style. What this means is, you want your new project to serve the purpose for which you’re building it. Keep the shiny bells and whistles for later.
So, identify your app’s core functionality. Work on this functionality in the simplest way possible. Only when this is complete should you begin embellishing the app with styles and features that make it appear better. This approach makes it easier for you to finish your project without getting bogged down by things that don’t directly improve its function.
5. Avoid too many new concepts
There’s just so much to learn in the world of development but so little time to learn them. While new projects make for a great opportunity to learn new concepts, you want to keep this to a minimum. Learning too many things for a project will easily get tiring and frustrating.
Instead, build on what you know. Try to avoid learning more than 2 or 3 unknown techniques for a single project. This would mean less time spent trying to learn and more time spent building.
6. Track your time
If you could only implement one tip from this article, it would be this one. One of the best ways to keep your focus is time tracking. Define how much time you want to spend each week towards your goal of finishing your project’s next step. Then, track the time you spend during every session and measure it against your goal. Adjust accordingly.
This can help motivate you towards task completion when you have a spare 30-60 here or there. It will also help you notice when you’re spending too much time on a task without any progress. Realizing a problem exists allows you to seek out alternative solutions to get you moving forward.
7. Watch out for burnout
No, you don’t have to be busy all the time. Between work, study and/or family, there’s so much to be done anyway. Although deadlines are important for staying focused, life happens, and your deadline may no longer be tenable. That’s okay!
Be sure to take a break whenever you need one. If you need to clear your head, feel free to stop and meditate, get a snack, watch some TV, practice some breathwork or go for a walk. And if life’s just too hard at the moment, there’s no crime keeping the project on hold for a moment ‘til things settle.
Bonus Point: Stay inspired
Staying inspired can be difficult with all of the challenges life throws at you. It’s important, therefore, that you find ways to ensure you’re always inspired and that you’re in the right headspace for the task(s) at hand.
There are certainly many ways to go about achieving this, but I generally prefer listening to daily inspirational podcasts at the start of each day. Two of the best I’ve found out there are Brian Cain’s ‘Mental Performance Daily’ podcast and Dr. Rob Gilbert’s ‘Success Hotline’.
There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to dealing with side projects. No matter what it is, challenges are bound to pop up along the way. Your best bet will be to keep refining your process with feedback until you learn what works for you.
For instance, some may find that telling a friend about the project they’re working on motivates them to complete it now that they’re accountable to another person. Others find that it brings unnecessary pressure that chokes the joy out of their work. So, take your time to learn what’s best for you.
Ultimately, even projects that do not end up how you intend make for great learning opportunities. You see, “sometimes you just feel tired, feel weak; and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up. But you gotta search within you and try to find that inner strength.” (“‘Till I Collapse”, Eminem)
Always remember, there’s no failure in life, only feedback. Your side projects don’t have to be about winning or losing, just about learning. Having the right mindset and constantly incorporating feedback will eventually get you to achieve your every goal.