What are you working on—on the side?
I have a few side projects.
First, I try to spend some time volunteering my time for Ladies/Girls Learning Code, a Canadian non-profit organization teaching women digital skills. Some folks might not think of volunteering as a side project, but if you’re consistently giving your time to an organization or a cause, I’d say that totally qualifies as a side project.
I started out as a workshop mentor about a year and a half ago, then went on to leading/teaching workshops last winter. It’s really an amazing experience to see women and girls go from feeling unsure and intimidated to coding their own websites within a span of a single day.
Second, I try to give a few talks per year to share my experiences about topics that I'm passionate about. Last year, I spoke about UX design and using WordPress as a flexible storytelling tool. This year, I’m hoping to take a “WordPress for good” talk on the road to a few WordCamps in Canada and Stateside, maybe even overseas.
Another big side project for me this year is organizing a hackathon that will bring together the local WordPress and nonprofit communities in Montreal. Since the focus of my work is creating WordPress websites for nonprofits, this was a no-brainer side project to take on. Follow #DoActionMtl if you want to learn more.
Finally, I also make art on the side. It’s a way to unwind and have fun. I have a little Society6 store and regularly donate 30% of proceeds from sales to organizations doing good, most recently the ACLU.
How do you manage to work
on your side project(s)?
Ha! Well, I'm obsessively organized which helps to keep me on task and also gives me a bird’s eye view of everything that’s on my plate.
I also have no problem saying “No” to projects that would be too much of a commitment or simply aren’t particularly interesting or engaging.
Lastly, I completely go along with the mindset that there’s the same number of hours in the day. It's all about your priorities and making time for what’s important to you.
So, in pragmatic terms: if I have time during work hours—great, but most of this stuff gets done in the evenings and over weekends.
Why have a side project?
Because I've only got one life to live and there’s lots of things to do! When I'm an old lady, I want to look back and feel like I've accomplished something that will live on past my own life.
Also, I have many interests outside of work, and side projects allow me to explore these interests in an organized way.
Really, once you start giving your time to a cause you believe in, start sharing your knowledge and experiences, start giving back in one way or another, it’s hard to stop. These projects give me a purpose, they feel meaningful and satisfying, they’re also extremely enriching. I’ve met many like-minded folks and built great relationships which is why I ultimately keep participating in them.
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Diptych courtesy of Sasha Endoh.
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Read more about the joy of side projects.
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