# Thoughts on side projectsOct 17, 2017 3 minute read
My first paid job was writing Windows Applications in C#. My work computer was a clunky HP -originally intended to be used as a server-. During my nights and weekends I started learning Cocoa on a Dell laptop with no battery or display, connected to a 15” CRT monitor, running a Hackintosh version of OS X. A few years passed by… I bought my first Mac, my first iPhone, and my company needed to develop some iOS apps. Guess what iOS developer with several years of experience was readily available?
Years later I was working almost exclusively writing WPF Windows applications. I got interested in rich client-side web apps because remotely updating my clients was suboptimal. I started learning a little bit of Knockout and Angular on my nights and weekends. Guess whom got hired to work exclusively writing Angular web applications?
I can share other similar examples but I don’t want to bore you.
Whatever technology you learn, whatever activity you engage with: blogging, giving presentations, etc, is actively benefiting your employer. People rarely unlearn things they learn on their free time. I’m going to take it even a step further, that lunch you ate at your desk so you could code on that Kotlin project… that is also good for your employer.
Learn new things, have personal projects, share your knowledge, go to meetups, contribute to open source projects. Well rounded professionals know many different technologies, even if they are not related to their day-to-day jobs.
Encourage your employees to learn for the sake of learning. You’ll reap the benefits. Encourage your employees to have side projects, this will create more mature employees that can schedule their time better.
Do you prefer to be this guy?
Or this guy
But what if?
My employees work on their personal projects all the time:
Is their work done?:
Yes. Great, maybe that employee needs bigger challenges. Give it to them before they go somewhere else.
No. Have an honest conversation and share this information with the employee. Take corrective actions if the problem persists.
My employees are preparing for their next interview:
Nobody can prevent an employee from wanting to go somewhere else. Figure out why would they want to leave and solve their problem.
This company have enough work for three lifetimes, they should be working for me 100% of their time:
- Are the things to do publicly and readily available?
- Are your employees aware that they can work 100% of their time?
- Are you willing to pay for somebody directly working for you 100% of their time?
- Do you need to hire more people?
- Do you need to work smarter rather than harder?
- Are you solving the right problems?
- I’ve had countless situations where a good night of sleep solved my problem better than an entire afternoon glued to a keyboard. Some context switching can be beneficial sometimes.
I want to know what everybody is doing all the time in a spreadsheet