How to stay motivated when working on a big project

Last winter I started working on a dating app and continued working on it through the spring. But after getting my Covid vaccine and when things started opening back up during the summer, I took a break and stopped working on my app. A few weeks ago I picked it back up, but it was really hard to get back into it.

I've been working on this project for almost a year now and I've picked up some tricks on how to stay motivated on a long-term project and to see it through to completion. I guess I haven't actually finished yet, but I feel confident that I will. Anyway, here are some tricks that I use to stay motivated and to stick with a big project.

General tips

Software Engineering-specific tips


Footnotes

  1. If you read my post on sleeping, you'll know that I actually try to avoid caffeine because it makes it hard for me to sleep at night. So I try to consume the smallest amount of caffeine that I can (I drink a mini can of Coke). Does it make it harder to fall asleep sometimes? Yeah, but I think it's worth it.
  2. Trigger by Major Lazer & Khalid really puts me in the right head-space to get work done. It's from the Death Stranding video game and reminds me that working on something alone is hard and scary, but it can be fun too and it's worth it if you believe in what you're doing.
  3. This was a mistake I made early on in my project. A lot of startups skip writing tests because they feel pressure to ship features as fast as possible to keep their handful of customers happy. But since my app wasn't live yet, there was no external pressure forcing me to ship faster. And I know that writing tests is a good investment because it makes future development faster, so I thought I was being clever by writing tests now. But writing tests turned out to be way harder than I anticipated (@testing-library/react-native has some rough edges). Instead of writing tests, I was spending all of my time fighting with my testing libraries and trying to figure out how to test async code. Instead of moving onto something else, I told myself that I wouldn't write any new features until I finished writing tests for all of the features I had so far. This was a mistake because feeling like I needed to write tests just made me not want to work on my project. Having a well-tested but unfinished project is worthless. Having a buggy, but completed project is much better.

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