Fueled by the constant push for new ideas and better experiences by our clients and employers; web development has to be one of, if not the, fastest evolving industry today. It’s our job as developers to at least keep up with the curve; unfortunately because of this constant push we often end up over specializing, leaving us ill prepared come the time to move onto the next big thing. We try to remedy this complacency by reading what others are working on and dabbling here and there on side projects, but quite often we can’t dedicate enough of our personal time to keep ahead of that curve.
Some employers, seeing this issue time and time again, have implemented dedicated personal project time in which you take a section of your typical work week to work on a project of your choosing that’s outside of the scope of your daily project. This forces you to break out of your typical mindset and keep innovating.These employers do this because they understand that projects don’t last forever and when those projects end they want you to be prepared for the next thing without having to lose a couple weeks or more getting back up to speed.
These personal projects also have other positive side effects for your employer. Not only will they have developers who don’t feel burnt out, but are also constantly innovating and trying new things which may turn into new products or product enhancements that they never otherwise would have had. A number of very popular products came out of these programs such as the public transit section of Google Maps.
But of course in the real world not all companies are able to offer this perk, so what can you do if your boss turns your personal project time request down?
You can start off by reading at least one blog post per day on something that interests you, try to also pick a couple every week which aren’t in your little corner of the web to get an understanding of the industry as a whole - who knows you may find something you really like that you otherwise wouldn’t have known about.
Participate in local dev meet ups - talking to other developers from other companies, on other projects, in other industries is very refreshing when you have just spent the last 4 months hammering on the same feature.
If you find you are getting burnt out on your current task there is no shame in asking your project lead if you can switch to something else to recharge for a couple days.
And last but certainly not least. Dream up your own after hours personal project that challenges you, makes you learn something new, and maybe even uses some of the cool new technologies thst you have been reading about in those blog posts. But most importantly - schedule time to work on it. We all lead very busy lives and without that schedule it will be pushed aside forever.
My goal is that you can take at least a couple ideas from this post to avoid the oh-so-common burn-out and to try and always be prepared for the next big thing. Thanks for reading, and as always let me know what you think below or mention me on Twitter @fromanegg.