I ran a poll in several programming-focused Linkedin groups, asking “Do you wish you could find some time for a hobby project?”:
(You can still vote in the Five-Hour Projects group until May 2015)
The poll was received with enthusiasm, collecting many votes, likes and comments (see further down). The results are not really surprising but impressive nevertheless:
- Total votes: 152
- Yes: 136 (90%)
- No, I don’t want that: 2 (1%)
- I have enough time: 14 (9%)
So, roughly 90% of the programmers who responded wish they could find the time. I hope that the Five-Hour Projects community can be helpful for them.
Also, I’m really glad for the 9% of the programmers who already find enough time.
Of course, this poll is far from being statistically valid, but still I believe it gives a good idea of what people think, especially when you also look at the comments.
Here are some select comments from the poll discussions:
Ankush Chadda: I do have a hobby project. I try to look at it whenever I get time.
But really, for me, I think it’s best to keep priority to office work, and keep some free time for that because hobby projects are experiments, not to be taken as anything productive.
Greg Knapp: Any developer who is not a 9-5er normally has hobby projects. Good devs are genuinely interested and curious about the technology and enjoy the creative process of building something.
Tuukka Turto: After working with .Net code all day, I really like to relax with some Python in the evenings and just go tinkering with something. I have found that having a hobby project gives me a playground where I can experiment with different things and maybe learn something useful to use at work. Some of that code even ended in my master’s thesis.
Mike Meyer: A change of focus like a hobby project is good for you. It gives the conscious mind a break, and hopefully some relaxation. It gives the subconscious time to spin on “work” without any pressure. Google recognized this with their “twenty percent” projects. These days, I go from distributed Python systems at work to embedded Arduino projects. The Arduino projects do tend to tie to my hobby of remote control craft.
Dennis Harvey: One of the tips in the Pragmatic Programmer book is to learn a new programming language every year. Hobby projects are a great way to accomplish this goal. I know that I need a real project to learn a new programming language or platform effectively.
Eric Graeb: Of course who doesn’t wish they had more time. Any developer that loves development either has a hobby project on the go, is short of a problem to solve, or doesn’t have the time. That’s the advantage of doing what you love, you want to do it all the time.
Willy Tchi-Yuan Ha: I’ve met people like another commenter here who have other [types of] hobbies and yet are extremely focused and competent at work. I respect that. It’s their choice and it’s their way of “clearing their head” which enables them to come back at work with a fresh mind.
I’m of the other type. I come back at home and my mind keeps working. I have trouble letting go. I get totally obsessed by problems. I absolutely need/must find a solution. If I’m not thinking about work problems then I’m thinking about ideas. For me, programming is a crafting tool and I feel like I can craft anything by just putting my mind to it. It gives me an indescribable satisfaction and proudness to create things. Ever since I’ve felt that, I’ve been looking for ways to feel that even more. I feel like it’s more than just a hobby. It’s how I am and I respect people who aren’t like me. They live life in a different way. I think that it’s really healthy to take things moderately. However, in my case, I can’t stop. It’s beyond fun. It’s an addiction. It’s an obsession.
By the way, I’m a proud father of a 7months old baby boy and happily married to my wife who I’ve been with for the past 14 years.
Sven Kautlenbach: My motivation has been all the time to find a job which is like a hobby project at the same time too. But my problem is that I have too many hobbies and interests so I think it is good to have a hobby project beside the contract you fulfill at the work – brainwash yourself with some other ideas and a good change too, which would increase the productivity of you main job duties. For example right now my hobby project is my master thesis (sensor networking, TI, CC) and my day job is adaptive streaming solutions in C++. After that I think I will start to “upgrade” my 94 Passat, with some remote controllable stuff + (probably) Android based multimedia and controlling system.
Konrad Jaśkowiec: My answer is ‘Yes, I wish I could find more time for hobby projects” (I already do find a little bit )
In my opinion having some hobby projects is as healthy and important as having a life besides work. I believe that for most it is impossible to have a work that requires every skill, trait or technology they like, because the domain of those three is either too broad or too specific for one work position to require.
The positive in having hobby projects is not just that you can get something different to work on to ‘brainwash’ you. It often gives you new perspectives of thinking and solving problems, refreshes your way of analyzing, lets you explore new technologies and paradigms.
A hobby project is the additional food for your brain, a skill expander, a way to have fun, a topic to share and exchange knowledge with your coleagues, and in long term, it can be a pass to your new work or maybe even your own company.
Kevan Thurstans: I’m also a coder who tries to squeeze in a little time for hobby projects. I code professionally writing client code for trading software. My hobby projects tend to be at the other end of the spectrum putting together remakes & ports of old 8 bit games. Of course this comes down to about an hour a night, barely enough time to warm up each time. Some weekends I might find a few hours which allows me to get a head os steam up and really getting things done. My web page is full of un finishes projects, as the ideas keep coming but the free time doesn’t. Like Sven I have a small ambition of doing something similar to hobby projects for money, but who wants retro remakes made, especially for money.
If you look up Monty Mole on SourceForge, you can see my oldest unfinished retro project from 2000.
What about you?
Can you find the time for a hobby project? Do you want to have one? Do you think this is important? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
This post was written by Valentyn Danylchuk, the editor of Five-Hour Projects. You can also publish guest posts here, suggest projects to write about, or get interviewed – contact email@example.com