As developers, we never stop learning. Be it a new library you have to integrate, an update to the framework you are using, or simply taking initiative to discover something new. Almost every day, I find something that I have never seen before, which honestly is one of the things that makes me so passionate about being a developer.
When I have free time during my off hours I try and learn something new. This can help me expand my knowledge base and also can help influence my daily work if I see something I can bring over in my routine.
There are some rules you should try and stick by when starting a side project.
- Try to make sure that the project you are starting is something that interests you. If you don't see yourself passionate about it, then why are you doing it?
- Make it a different obstacle than what you are doing in your daily work. This means it's either a new pattern, framework, or language that you can dig into. Burn out is something you should take very seriously and if you are doing the same thing day in and day out then eventually you are going to hit that point where it turns into a tedious task rather than being fun.
- Make it a cooperative process. Bringing in someone else to help you learn and grow can be just as exciting for your pair partner as it is for you. Getting stumped on something is also way easier to debug with someone there with you.
- It's not a race. You don't have to spend every free second you have on it. This goes with the burnout above. Loving what you do is what makes us all seek that new experience, but don't let it be something that distracts you from living your life.
Here are a few side projects that I have done in my spare time to help me learn things like Node, React, and Angular.