I don’t know what to make!Every budding developer ever
These words have spurted out of your mouth when trying to come up with new programming side project ideas at some point, I’m sure. Probably accompanied by “I can’t come up with anything” and “I’m not an idea person”.
But let me tell you this – You are an idea person.
Everyone is an idea person, and every developer can come up with a whole boatload of programming side projects.
The problem is, there are two types of people; conscious idea people and unconscious idea people, and the majority of developers, especially budding and junior developers, fall under the latter.
But it’s OK! Becoming a conscious idea person – a conscious thinker is something that anyone can do.
How to come up with programming side project ideas
The five steps to coming up with projects:
- Decide that you are going to be a conscious idea person
This is the most important step. Start every new endeavour with a positive affirmation – “I will become a conscious idea person”.
- Train yourself to think consciously
Train to catch yourself mid-thought and realise that the noise going on in your head, isn’t actually noise, but a goldmine of budding ideas.
This is the hardest step and will probably take a bit of practice, but is well worth the effort.
While you are walking around, on the train or sitting on a park bench consciously take note of, and observe what you are thinking.
- Notice your budding ideas
Note how I say “notice budding ideas” and not “come up with ideas”. You are already coming up with them, you just aren’t noticing them.
They usually come in the form of “it would be nice if…”, “I wish…”, “if I had … then I could …”.
When phrases like these pop into your head, notice them! These are your potential programming side project ideas, your potential billion dollar ideas.
- Notice dissatisfaction
Whenever you are dissatisfied, displeased, discontent – something can be improved. And that something, could be an idea.
Consciously take note of these times and you will have more seedlings to play with.
- Write it down!
Once you have a seedling in your grasp, a budding idea or a dissatisfaction, write it down.
I use a page in Notion to dump all of my ideas into, even the bad ones, the boring ones, the silly ones.
Going analog works too. I really like the Muji dot grid notebook (Amazon link).
The more you write down, the more potential coding project ideas you have. Even the ones that you think are no-so-great might combine or morph into something amazing.
If you forget your ideas, they are of no use to you, so write them down!
Follow these five steps and I promise that you will never again struggle to come up with programming side project ideas. You might however have the opposite problem – So many ideas, that you just don’t have the time to pursue them all.
Can’t win them all – Sorry!
‘Ello, I’m Jamal – a Tokyo-based, indie-hacking, FinTech software developer with a dependence on data.
I’m friendly, so feel free to say hello!