They say you need to launch at least 10 products to be able to find some success. So here I am again, after a couple of failed attempts, starting a new side-project (details to follow soon).

Starting a side-project at this time in my life is a bit crazy. Besides working on a full-time project at the moment with tight deadlines, I also have family life which demands a lot of care and attention and our never-ending off-grid to-do list with plenty of things to fix and improve. On top of that I also provide free IT help as volunteer for 2 organizations.

Still, this project was something I was really excited to try. I have a list of many ideas for software and games, but this one was not one of them! It just popped up some weeks ago, I let it marinate for a while, but it kept growing and growing and I felt I just needed to start something!

My major productivity tips are always the same: break things down in small, doable (and, if possible, easy) tasks. That way, it’s possible to keep the pieces moving forward even with little time.

Of course that, for a software project, you won’t be able to reach far if you don’t find some good chunks of continuous time to focus your mind and write code. But I found out that if I manage to take care of everything else, whenever those opportunities to code appear, I am much more willing and productive, as a result of having a more clear direction and motivation. It’s like an overall preparedness.

I’ve been using Trello for pretty much everything in the past few years (one board to manage my life in general, and then one board per major-project). My first steps were then to prepare a Trello board for this new project. My project lists tend to be somewhat the same all the time:

  • Inbox (new things I remember, but not sure what do to with them yet – just a place to unload without worries)
  • Research (things I need to think, search online, find answers or ways to solve)
  • Dev/Tasks (clear tasks of things to be done)
  • Bugs
  • Later (all the cool stuff I want to do, but need to keep out for now to avoid creeping too many features. Having a clear idea of what your MVP looks like is important)
  • Milestones (one card per milestone, and in each card a checklist of all the important things I need to achieve). I interpret “milestone” differently according to each project. Is just a loose way for me to keep track of where I am and I love that sense of progression.

This weekend, despite being full of household chores, I still managed to put in some solid 3 hours of work into this, 2 of them with code and the other one doing all those small tasks that are important and help keep me motivated. Simple things like:

  • registering the domain
  • setting up email
  • signing up for a few services that I’ll use during development (github, mailtrap)
  • initializing the git repository
  • reading some more laravel docs to better understand how I’ll use it to achieve what I need

So being able to send and receive email with my new product name already feels like something is becoming a reality! Never underestimate the small tasks, the mental motivation they can give is really valuable 🙂