How to manage working on passion projects while keeping a regular job
Passion projects are those activities that one indulges in his/her spare time (usually as a side project along with a steady job). It is mostly out of curiosity and a desire to create, build and learn. These hobbies could range from writing a book, blogging, collect antiques to even potential enterprises like starting food truck, building a marketing tool, etc.
The founder of Khan Academy (a renowned online tutoring website), Salman Khan had no idea that training his distant cousins in Louisiana would lead to his next big venture. Same goes for Stewart Butterfield who co-founded photo sharing app Flickr and then went on to build messaging service Slack.
These success stories reiterate how fulfilling and rewarding it is for people to nurture a passion project. Apart from boosting a person’s creativity and mental well-being, side gigs also enhance an employee’s productivity and learning capabilities.
Labour of love
For most people, the driving factor to indulge in a side project is an undying passion or curiosity to create something novel. Hence, the primary motivator is one’s personal interest.
So, it is highly essential for people to determine how important or close to heart a particular activity is to them before indulging in it. Often employees run out of steam to sustain the side project without adequate desire and appetite to learn.
Once they identify their passion and decide to source it well, employees need to then decide what they wish to invest and derive from the project. This involves evaluating the skills required for the passion project and planning to acquire new ones accordingly.
Workers need to also strategise whether they aspire to monetise the project in future or not. Sometimes, employees also indulge in side projects to gain valuable learning experience.
Pushing the boundaries
Charting out priorities is then followed by reworking your daily routine to allocate sufficient time for the project. Ensure you customise your timetable to suit your preferences (e.g., if you are a morning person or not) better. Try capitalising on the time of the day where your creativity levels are at the peak.
Accordingly, assign a non-negotiable time period (ranging from 30 minutes to three hours a day) to execute project related tasks either before or after your stipulated work hours. You could earmark lengthier hours during weekends. For e.g., the whole of Saturday noon or an entire Sunday morning, etc.
Whether it is writing half a chapter of your upcoming book every morning or learning new recipes for your weekend catering business, stay dedicated to keep the habit going.
Many successful people usually dedicate their early morning hours for their passion projects. This gives employees a better head-start of having invested time in something they genuinely enjoy doing. It then allows workers to engage in their regular jobs with renewed zeal and inspiration.
Multiple advantages of pursuing passion projects
Allotting dedicated work hours gives passion projects the much needed structure and helps employees manage their everyday schedules better. In this process, one can also identify and eliminate the worthless habits (social media, binge watching etc.) and channelize their energies more efficiently.
Next up, it is important for employees to record the progress of their passion projects. It can be reflecting on the skills upgraded in the process or even monitoring finances. One needs to be diligent in tracking measurable targets on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.
Employees also can introspect on their learning curve in a personally gratifying journey. Moreover, indulging in hobbies and passion projects can also lead to positive performance-related outcomes (such as job creativity) for employees.
Research published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology points to the same. Their findings suggested that organisations could benefit from encouraging their workers to engage in creative off-work activities.
Several employees also risk pursuing their passion projects in an extremely secretive manner. Unless and until a side project violates a workers job contract or employee engagement terms, hiding it is needless. In fact announcing your side project ideas to colleagues and supervisors comes with many gains. Employees can benefit from hearing new perspectives and constructive feedback.
Managing time and energy in the middle of doing a 9-5 job is indeed daunting for many workers. However, that should be no reason to stop oneself from trying. Even if passion projects fail, they end up teaching life-changing lessons to employees who brave to put in considerable efforts.
These days it is increasingly common to hear about journalists attempting to author books or mid-career IT professionals trying to build new products and then breaking off to be entrepreneurs.
The thing that drives such endeavours is the rewarding experiences that passion projects often promise to provide. Hence, if you are passionate about a side project, it’s probably worth giving it a try!