Prioritising those side-projects you started

Prolific project starter? Yeah, me too. Lots started, hardly any finished. How do you prioritise which side-projects to work on?

Here are some options for picking from unfinished projects.

By potential

Pick the project that has the greatest chance of success.

If you started a project from a random idea but didn’t give any thought to who the audience is, what problem it might solve or opportunity it might create, or how to maintain the project, then it might not have a high chance of success. But if you have a project that has the potential to be successful, perhaps because its similar to other projects you’ve done or because it follows a proven approach, then pick that one to work on.

By need and impact

Pick the project that solves a problem for you or someone else.

Comparing projects by which is going to have the most impact and/or the least effort might help you pick which projects to prioritise. Projects that might help other people, teach them useful things, help them connect with others, etc., could be prioritised over more whimsical projects that are just fun things to do.

By excitement

Pick the project that interests you the most.

If an idea excites you it’s probably have more motivation to work on it (and maybe even finish it). Follow your heart.

By random selection

Pick a project by rolling a dice

Avoid choosing by letting random selection do the work. If all or your projects are equal to you and it doesn’t really matter which you work on, you might as well just pick any.

By divination

Pick the project that you’ve seen a sign for.

Did someone mention something on Twitter that relates to a project you started? Maybe it’s a sign that you should get back to work on that project (some people call this market validation).

By most finished

Pick the project that is closest to being finished.

Work on the project that is closest to being finished, even if it isn’t the most exciting or has the most potential, because finishing might teach you something and feel good.

Let them go

You don’t have to finish any of them.

It is completely ok to start something because you’re interested in it, and not finish it. Leave all those unfinished projects and move onto something else.

But if you just keep starting more projects, it doesn’t matter how you prioritise them, you’ll never finish them all. So, maybe you need to think about why you start and not finish?

More ideas than time

If you have more ideas than you have time to work on projects, accept it and share those ideas with others so they can either pick up the project or rework the idea (there’s another idea for a project).

No end in sight

Maybe part of the problem is that you don’t see an end point for the project. Thinking of starting a newsletter? Do you really want to have to write something of high enough quality to send to your subscribers every week? Want to build a website? Do you really want to be maintaining it and adding content for the next ten years. Perhaps not wanting to maintain it stops you from shipping it.

Starting is fun

Maybe it’s the starting of projects that is the fun bit. The creative exploration and discovery of starting something new is what you enjoy. If that’s the case, then the measure of success for you isn’t finishing.