What makes a good personal programming side project?

I love side projects. Just listen to my sponsor message where I’ve been saying many times now that you need to start programming. You absolutely need to form a simple plan, start working on it, and adapt as you make progress and learn.

But how do you get started? For many of us, a big stumbling block is the perceived need to come up with a good idea. How do you know ahead of time if your idea will be good and worthwhile? Let me give you a simple answer to this problem. You won’t know if your idea is good before you get started. Don’t worry about it. Get something working. It doesn’t have to look good and by working, I don’t even mean it has to be running software. It just needs to be far enough along that you can show it to other people and start getting feedback. This could be as simple as some sketches at first.

If you get nothing else out of this episode, remember to just get started.

The episode goes on to explain the following four specific suggestions for selecting a good personal programming side project:

  1. Your project should be interesting to you. You’ll be spending a lot of time with your project. So make it something you’ll enjoy.
  2. While something interesting will get you going, it’s not always enough to keep you going. To help with this, the second suggestion is to find something that you need.
  3. The next suggestion is to avoid conflicts with your work.
  4. And find a group you can join and work on a project together. The social interaction not only will help you learn better but will help keep you motivated.