A tool to do side projects
First of, I do not like to waste your time.
So before you start reading, please answer the following questions:
- Do you like to be more productive when doing a side project?
- Do you feel like you want to do and finish more side projects in a shorter timeframe?
- Do you want to spend more time doing stuff that’s fun and productive?
If you only had NO’s in there, this framework is not for you. Close down this tab or go back to Facebook since this Blog and its content will not be for you.
If you had only One yes, that’s fine, just give it a peek, skim the content, do whatever you like and see if it’s something for you.
If you had Two yesses, AWESOME! This framework will be for you. Keep on reading and let me know what you think about it.
If you had Three Yesses, DAMN, then you are just like me before I started designed this framework.
Why a framework?
Every week I get lots of inspiration for fun projects and cool stuff to do (mostly business, startup and productivity related), but I never manage to finish my projects. Not finishing frustrated the shit out of me. I wanted to do my side projects quick and highly efficient so that I could do as much project as possible and learn the most while doing my projects. So I had many project ideas but needed a solution to complete them. And so the framework was born. It guides me while doing projects. It utilizes little tricks like social accountability to make me finish a project. Also, this might not work for everyone. But if it does, let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts about it!
REMEMBER, this framework should be seen as a living document for me to use whenever I start a new project. It might change in shape and form over time. I will be tweaking it always.
Some basic info you need to know before reading on:
What is a framework?
In general, a framework is a real or conceptual structure intended to serve as a support or guide for the building of something that expands the structure into something useful.
In computer systems, a framework is often a layered structure indicating what kind of programs can or should be built and how they would interrelate. Some computer system frameworks also include actual programs, specify programming interfaces, or offer programming tools for using the frameworks. A framework may be for a set of functions within a system and how they interrelate; the layers of an operating system; the layers of an application subsystem; how communication should be standardized at some level of a network; and so forth. A framework is generally more comprehensive than a protocol and more prescriptive than a structure. (Yes, this was copy pasted from the interwebz)
What is a checklist? (seriously??)
Checklists are an everyday item that many people use to ensure they’re on track with something. The beauty of the checklist is that you can literally check your progress and see those areas that you still need to work on.
The framework structure
(You can download a pdf of the framework below)
Every project consists of seven layers. Every layer contains a specific checklist that needs to be checked and done. By doing so, no project will be unbeatable.
- The introduction
- Epistemic basis
- Learn from the best
- The project specific
- Worker bee mode
- The climax
- ( ) Introduction: Every project, Big or small needs an introduction by giving a quick explanation of the project: Whats the is the project? How did I come up with the project? Why am I doing this project? And what will I learn from this project (I hope)?
- ( ) Beginning & End: I need to define a starting point and an endpoint. This parameter will serve as a goal I would like to reach. So two questions to answer here: Where do I stand on the project? And, What do I want to reach at the end of this project, what is my primary goal?
- ( ) Reward yourself: People are like animals. They perform better when they get rewarded. Set a reward for yourself when you reach your goal. It will get your motivations going! It works best when you think of a prize that involves other people like your partner, parents or roommates. Remember to tell them about your project. And tell them about the reward when you do finish your project. They will act as your social accountability.
- ( ) Timeframe: Every project needs a timeline. For instance, when I want to write an ebook on app development for non-developers, I would say: I will take one month of my time for this. So, how long do I think it will take me to complete the project?
- ( ) Time management: This rule will be necessary for time management. How many hours a day to I think I will need to work on this the reach my goal?
- ( ) Supplies and reachability:. What tools and amount of money will I need to reach my goals?
- Caveats 1: If my goal is too unrealistic, I will not start. If my timeframe and time management is unrealistic, I will not start. If I don’t possess the tools or the money to initiate the project it means it’s unrealistic and I will not start it.
Without doing your research, there is no epistemic basis to be successful in your projects!
- ( ) Do your homework: If you want to be efficient and want to avoid bumping into rookie mistakes, read about what others have done and tried. It’s a simple rule that makes your project so much more effective. Think of what sources and materials will serve you best when researching the topics surrounding your side project.
- ( ) Make a research list: What books, articles, blogs, whatever do I need to read before jumping into this project? Google will help you a long way, but don’t mind asking others around you.
- Caveat 2: If I suspect the researching part will take me more than a week, go back to Beginning & End and redefine your goal since it will take to much research time which is not productive in the sense that it will bore you out.
Research saves you time when doing your projects. It sounds boring, but the fun thing is, you are the one that defines the amount of investigation that needed. That means that if you are a lazy sh*t, you can just read one how-to post and be done with it. Trust me; this is not recommended since I have tried and failed many times by doing so.
Learn from the best
Like doing research to avoid mistakes, learning from others is also a very effective way of avoiding mistakes. Just try to learn from people that have tried before you. Better yet, try to find people that have failed miserably.
- ( ) Mentors: Make a list of people you think could save you time by giving you their knowledge and insights. See them as your project mentors. Who in my close environment has tried what I’m about to try?
- ( ) Approach mentors: This might sound like a scary step but is a lot of fun that includes many added benefits. Contact the ones that you know best first. Be polite and explain to them why you are contacting them. Be direct and don’t cut corners. Remember to follow up. And lastly, give them updates, show them the final result and give them credit. This process will help you expand your network, which is a good thing.
- ( ) Ask the right questions: Ask them how they would approach your project. Ask them what you should focus on, and what your should avoid. It’s important that they give you the most basic overview of steps that need to be taken to reach your goal.
The project specific checklist
At this section of the checklist framework, we’ve reached the project specific part. What I mean by that, is that for every project this list will look different, which is obvious. Hopefully, before reaching this point you’ve done some research. This research is critical because you need to get a grasp of the scope of the project that matches your goals. Without some knowledge, you will forget things and work ineffectively.
- ( ) MCA: Minimum checks amount: Begin your specific checklist by looking at your goal and timeline. Think up the minimum amount of steps you need to complete to reach your goal. Write these down with pen and paper.
- ( ) Feedback loop: Once you’ve completed your MCA’s, show it to your mentors. Ask them for feedback. Ask them if you’re missing something. Ask them what they think the MCA’s should be. If you want to know if they care, leave a critical step out and see if they point it out. When they don’t, you’ll know if they are of much use in the future. But remember, you always stay polite.
- ( ) Finalize the specific checklist: Use your mentor’s feedback and construct your project specific checklist. From this point on you have defined the specific steps that need to be taken for you to reach your project goals.
- ( ) Timeframe: Set an amount of time needed for every box you will be checking.
- ( ) MCA calendar: Get your calendar out and plan in your worker bee time.
- ( ) Prepare to win: You are set to go into worker bee mode now, take a goods night rest and start checking off those boxes the next day. When working on your project, learn to get comfortable. Put yourself in the best possible position for you to be productive. So have a quick run, take a shower, get a cup of coffee and sit at a place where you feel best.
Worker bee time
Layer five is all about the hustle. It will be all about you owning the shit out of your checklist and feeling super happy and productive about yourself.
- ( ) Check those boxes: This is super important. Your brain gets a kick from doing so, don’t ask me why, but it just works. Once you’ve started, continue the process of checking and checking until you reach your goal.
- ( ) Getting stuck: When you get stuck, go through your research or ask for help from your project mentors. Try to take a step back and analyze the situation. Ask yourself these questions: Why am I getting stuck, what’s the source of it? Does it have to do with to little time, too little resources, too little knowledge? Try to psychoanalyze the actual reason why you’re getting stuck.
- ( ) Replenish yourself: When you feel like quitting, don’t just stop. Do something different, mix it up. Read a novel, watch some youtube video’s or go for a walk. Get your mind out of frustration modus and just go back at it the next day.
- ( ) Learn from quitting: When you do decide to quit, but want to learn from your mistakes and do better next time. Go straight to the Evaluation part. This part will help you to understand what went wrong. It will help you learn ways to be more successful while doing your next project.
When you reach this point, it means you have successfully finished your project, CONGRATZ! You have done it, and it’s successful (hopefully).
- ( ) Reward yourself: Now it’s time to reap the benefits. And this is important. Not only did you reach your goal at this point, you’re also able to cash in your reward. Go and have your reward, or do whatever you set out as your reward. Trust me, this will feel amazing because now you feel productive, you’ve reached a personal goal, you’ve learned something new and exciting.
- ( ) Rest: Take some time off, you deserved it!
Learn, execute, study and repeat.
- ( ) Improve your process: By answering the questions belong you’ll find critical information for you to improve on in future projects. See these questions as a basic guideline.
- Did I finish the project?
- Was my goal too ambitious? Why so?
- Did I manage to reach my timeframe? How so?
- Was I correct about my budget and the needed tools? Why so?
- Did I do enough research?
- Did my mentors help me? How come?
- Was my particular checklist practical? Why so?
- Did I feel good about checking my boxes?
- Was there any moment I wanted to quit? Why was that?
- Which meta-skills did I learn?
- Which hard skills did I learn?
- Which soft skills did I learn
- ( ) What now? Try to think of the next step. Are you going to take the project any further? And if so, how? I can think of a way, just do a new project out of developing your finished project into something bigger!
- ( ) Professionalize: I tend to do projects that could be transformed into a business. So the last steps after finishing your project are to think of this questions: Can you find this nugget inside your project that could be commercialized? Can I make this project into a profitable business? If that is not the case, no worries. I just tend to do it that way. It’s not for everyone and not for every project.
Answer these questions in great detail. Explain the why’s and the how’s. Only then will you improve and learn from your mistakes. (This list of question will grow and change over time)
Hopefully, you will have finished your project once you reach the end of this list
So you might have wondered while reading this: Is he writing this for himself or is this for others to follow?? Well, to be honest. I don’t know why I wrote it the way I did. It was just how it came to me. If you find any lessons in this, go ahead. The purpose for me was to set out a framework to use as a grip when doing my own projects.
I plan on writing about my projects on this blog. So in the process of starting new projects, you will be able to keep track of my progress. I like to experiment, and this means that my posts will be a mixture of text, sound, video and lots of other stuff.
And remember, I’m all about learning from the people around me. So if you have any advice, tips and tricks, stuff you find helpful when applying this framework, let me know.
I made this handy checklist framework . pdf template which is A4 sized and can be printed out. I fill it in and use it as a physical reference when doing a project.
Thanks for all your feedback and I will see you on the flipside!