Why I Think Side Projects Make You a Better Developer

When you work on a side project, you get to test everything you know in real situations.

Do you think you could learn to swim without getting into the water? Of course not! So don't get trapped in a cycle of reading articles and watching videos and thinking you are making progress.

You'll see real progress when you jump head-first in and start solving problems.

With your own project, you'll run into challenges you've never seen before. Figuring out how to solve these problems helps you think better and become a more creative problem-solver.

With your day job, it's easy to become comfortable solving certain types of problems or having certain people you can go to when you get stuck.

Well, when you go off and try something by yourself, you get very creative and learn a lot more because you have to be your own safety net.

Work on What You Love

Often, I feel exhausted from working on the same things.

Side projects are great because you can pick something you're interested in. This means you're more likely to stick with it, even when it gets tough.

Loving the project keeps you motivated to learn and improve.

I usually get reenergised when I work on something for me and it can give me the spark and reminder of why I love this stuff.

Learning to Learn

While working on side projects, you often need to pick up new skills fast. This helps you get better at learning new things quickly, which is vital to stay ahead of tech trends.

Find Your Path

Trying different projects can help you figure out what you really like to do.

Maybe spend your days building apps, but discover you actually love Machine Learning or DevOps. Opening new doors can help you decide where to focus your learning or even your career.

Learn from Mistakes

With side projects, it's okay to mess up because there's less pressure. Making mistakes and then fixing them is one of the best ways to learn and get better.

Mistakes are the fastest way to become a better developer and it's not as easy to make them with the time to recover when working with a team.

Maybe Start a Business?

Many companies often start out as a hobby or a project for folks. Who knows where your project will take you? In the worst case, you learn; in the best case, you earn a living from it, too!

In short, side projects make you a better developer because they let you learn in a fun, hands-on way.

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Written by Niall Maher

Founder of Codú - The web developer community! I've worked in nearly every corner of technology businesses; Lead Developer, Software Architect, Product Manager, CTO and now happily a Founder.


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