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Image credit: Octavian Dan

Rethinking My Crazy Project

I started my crazy project earlier this summer, and it was yet another attempt at deliberatively setting aside time to learn new technologies and skills, and to work on projects that are fun and interesting. Yes, yet another pet/hobby project. Or rather, this was meant to be a set of somewhat related pet/hobby projects that could be (thematically) strung together into a semi-coherent up-skill project.

My goal was to get into the habit of spending X amount of time per week/month on continuous learning. Why? Well, there are several reasons (and topic for another post). However, for the sake of this post, one important reason is that I really enjoy tinkering with technology.

The keyword here is “enjoy,” and after a few months I was no longer “enjoying” the direction that the project had taken. First, I had a lot less time available than I had initially hoped. As so often happens, my day-job and travel took up ever more time. Second, I found that some of the technologies that I had started to tinker were just less exciting. And third, the approach I had taken made it challenging to break the project into smaller and more manageable components.

That last part was almost a “project killer” — I had very little time to spend on my projects, and those time segments were often short and spread across several days. It could be 30 minutes here or a few hours there, and it could be days (and even weeks) between opportunities.

That meant that each time I wanted to work on something, I first had to spend quite a bit of time ramping up and trying to remember where I had left off. This isn’t easy under normal circumstances and even more so when one is trying to learn completely new skills. In the end, it became difficult to make noticeable progress, which then turned an erstwhile fun project into a frustrating chore.

However, this was still a great learning experience. I had to learn to adapt to not just my spare time to my work life, but also change my work life so that it didn’t wholly consume my personal life. And I think that I have now come up with a few tweaks, some essential changes, and even outright novel — if I may say so myself 😉 — solutions to balance it all out and make this crazy project exciting and fun again.

One notable change is that I will travel a lot less in the new year, and I will also try to stick to a much more predictable and regular schedule. This will not only give me a bit more personal time but also larger chunks of time.

Another change is that I will dump a few technologies that I didn’t find as interesting or enjoyable as I had hoped. It doesn’t mean that the exercise was a waste of time or that the technologies are not worth learning. It simply means that of all the things I can and should and want to learn, I need to focus on things that I find interesting. After all, my available time is finite.

So, what did I decide to drop? Most notably, I decided to drop React and Gatsby. Instead, I will focus on VueJS and Grav CMS, both of which I already have experience with. But what about learning new things? There’s still tons more for me to learn just with VueJS, and I’d like to build a few Grav CMS plugins as well.

I also wanted to spend more time learning Python and work with my various Raspberry PIs. There are just some many fascinating things I want to do with those little devices — reading streaming data from sensors, AI, and much more. The great thing about working on those projects is that, in general, each project is relatively small and contained.

I have also built a small testbed with a few Raspberry PI devices that I can bring with me on some business trips. That allows me to bring my hobby with me at least on some trips, and frankly, that has been a very positive change.

So I’m still on this crazy journey, but I feel that I am making good progress, and it’s a lot more fun. And in the end, that is what really matters 😊