I’m Working on a Personal Project!

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Part of my goal for teaNotes.dev is to document my progress with my personal projects. Admittedly, I’m often much more optimistic about what I believe I can do. This year has held a lot of lessons for me on what can I fully achieve. I want my cake and I want to eat it too! But time is finite, and I can’t do all the things I want (even as I strive to for high productivity with my time).

My Original Vision

At the beginning of 2019, I had the goal of making a mobile app using React Native. I was pretty sure I would have it published in the Google Play app store by September. Well, it’s December now, and I haven’t made much progress (in terms of having a demonstrable app), and it has created a big backlog of other projects I want to pursue.

The Roadblocks

Along the way this year, I’ve uncovered more roadblocks to getting me started than I had initially anticipated. The original progress I had expected was:

  1. learn React Native
  2. build the app
  3. ?????
  4. profit!

I have been a bit too impatient to “learn React Native”, as in, taking tutorials and follow along. Part of my year has included a long hiatus while I start/stop/start/stop tutorials finding so many of them lacking engagement to keep my interest. I bought books and several tutorials for React Native. And very little has held my interest in what I want to create.

Eventually, I threw my hands in the air and decided to set off on just doing the thing. Just build this app and stop shopping around for tutorials or resources on learning React Native. Surely, if I know React, I can pick this up and figure it out?

However, my first hurdle with a blank screen on my IDE was the question of, “What do I want this app to look like?” I made some rough mockups, drew up some ideas for screens, and looked at some pre-made templates to find inspiration.

So… shout out to the UX/UI designers of the world! While I’m a software engineer, I am aware I have a lot to learn about design and I make a better effort to not take this component for granted!

What Has Given Me Progress

I ended up reaching out to a recent bootcamp graduate in my community for help. Her name is Prenise Whittington and she’s a UX designer. I met Prenise a while back at a meetup event before her bootcamp and we connected on LinkedIn. During my design struggles, I saw her LinkedIn post about graduating from bootcamp and she’s looking for work. We met up and set some terms for how we will work together, and she agreed to make designs for my app.

She quickly came up with version 1.0 of the designs, and I enthusiastically loved them. All of my fuzzy ideas and inspirations that I clumsily articulated had been captured into a cohesive design. Prenise had future goals of what to do next which included tasks like doing user research and testing out different designs with folks. She also helped me come up with an app name, which I had yet to conceive thoughtfully.

What does 2020 look like for my project?

At this moment, the app is still a big work in progress, but I have all the pieces I need to make it happen. I just need to focus more time on it and knock it out!

I’ve found the most success with my project by focusing on the weekends. I’m too tired and burnt out from programming for 7-9 hours on weekdays to do my personal projects after work! And I really like to keep my mornings set to reading and screen-free activities. So my progress is a lot slower with one or two days a week of focused effort. How my life is structured, I have to accept that and find the best fit.

I can’t say for sure when I’ll finish this project, but gosh I really want it to happen. Along with my enthusiasm and optimism, I’m a classic Sagittarius where I hop around projects leaving a trail of unfinished attempts. I’ve held an interest in building a mobile app for many years now, and being successful with this will add a notch in my engineer belt for what I’m capable of creating.

While I don’t have much code to show with this personal project, I’ve got a full year of stories in my successes and failures. I hope my experience lends to you all in going out and pursuing your own personal project for 2020!

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