How this blog improved my productivity

Estimated 3 minute read · Friday, 13 May 2016

Having a pet project has some powerful benefits. Do you have one? What benefits have you observed?

I started this blog as a course. I decided to meticulously create the site from scratch keeping in mind page speed and user experience.

It took a lot more time and dedication from me. I had to create features from scratch instead of using a CMS and existing design template. As a back-end developer with a love for front-end, this approach was way more exciting for me. I could dive deep into a feature, understand its benefits and decide if it was really worth adding it.

Personal benefits

I have direction

I like writing code in my spare time. I often find myself writing code that goes nowhere. I tend to over think and over complicate it. This is usually because I don't have a clear direction to focus on. By creating something with direction, I have a goal and it is fulfilling to see the "product" materialize.

Exposure to iterative development

By having to create all the features from scratch, I need to take an iterative approach. It's like running my own little Agile project. This is very exciting as I need to put different types of hats on during development. I have to switch between a user, product owner, designer and developer.

I release iteratively at my own schedule. This exposes me to the problems business may face if an important feature is introduced. It's a fun exercise.

Autonomy feels good

By having full autonomy on my pet project I can do as I please. This is exciting as you are working on your own product and make your own decisions. It boosts creativity, allows you to experiment and helps find solutions to problems that you can apply at work.

Productivity benefits at work

Knowledge can be applied

It may not help my role directly but it can have a positive impact on the team. I can liaise with front-end developers, help with grunt tasks & SASS, improve page speed and work closer with designers.

Confidence is boosted

I started telling people about the site at work. This is something that is outside my comfort zone. I like making things, then keeping it to myself or chucking it because I am scared of the feedback.

All that went out of the window when I launched {{ site.title }}. I just started telling everyone I could. I linked it to my online profiles. I share my articles.

This may freak me out but it has boosted my confidence a lot.

Dabble in different tech

As a corporate developer you tend to get "boxed" into a role within a team. It's not always easy to be cross-functional even if it comes naturally to you. You need to build trust and what better way than create your own work of art that you can share and be proud of.

I started my journey with grunt and Jekyll. I was so ecstatic when the designers at work said the design was beautiful!

I was also able to get my hands dirty with node, ruby, analytics, optimization and different types of automation in the front-end space.

Check out the credits page that lists what went into making this site.

My final thoughts

Having a pet project can be beneficial to upskill, boost confidence and think outside your role. It also provides an opportunity for you to create something that you can be proud of which can showcase your skills.

By letting your creative juices flow outside of your work environment, you can positively influence your productivity at work - provided you don't let it burn you out.

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