A bit of background: I've got a small open source project that I've started on, a basic framework which provides an object oriented means of generating HTML code (since I don't really like HTML, and I do like PHP). It has some released source, and a few downloads, but primarily, the project is for me, with the Open Source portion just being a side benefit.

The original project which caused me to be able to develop on this project has mostly gone into hibernation for the time being, which means that all the development I get to sink into it at this point is personal time only. Unfortunately, I'm currently working toward my bachelor's degree, studying for certifications, and I have a three month old baby at home. In short, by the time I get around to "me time", I rarely feel like doing work, but rather usually feel like just chilling out.

So, if there's anyone else out there who feels like they're in a similar position, what strategies have you used to keep yourself motivated toward working on the project? I would really like to at least be able to work on this until I have 100% spec coverage, but I haven't committed source in months. Anyone out there who can help?

  • 1
    vote to close as too broad and does not feel well suited to our q&a format. Apr 19, 2015 at 14:05

8 Answers 8


If you are asking yourself how to find time working on your open source project, this may indicates that you are willing to work on too much things at the same time.

You may not be able to physically handle everything and the consequence is that you will be bad in most things you will work on because of the lack of time and focus.

Think about your baby! And your bachelor degree! It's already 2 FULL TIME projects believe me!

Unless your open source project is more important than your baby or your bachelor degree, abandon your open source project for now.

  • 1
    +1 for pointing out the stretch factor. I once tried doing 3-4 things at the same time and managed to complete none.
    – Jas
    Oct 22, 2010 at 18:25
  • You make a good point, as do others. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. :) Oct 26, 2010 at 12:57
  • The time with your kids is the most precious in the world, and it never comes back.
  • Your degree will feed your family.

Prioritize accordingly :)


Chilling out might not be such a bad idea. Young babies take a lot of energy, so you might consider saying to yourself "OK, 3 month break from non-essential programming".

Take the time to relax while you can, and either wait for inspiration to strike (rather than trying to squeeze it out), or write down (in prose or code) some rough ideas on where you'd like the project to be, or how you'd like the code to look.


Most people have a fair amount of downtime that they use watching television. (This doesn't normally apply to parents of three-month-olds.) It isn't generally a matter of finding time, but finding energy and motivation.

Are you usually able to sleep through the night? I wasn't when my kid was that old. If you're not getting enough sleep, you're going to have a hard enough time with your schoolwork, let alone an outside project.

So, spend time with your wife and kid. Don't worry about extra projects for now, there will be more time for that a few years from now.


I'd say that by far your most interesting project and top of the top priority at the moment is your baby - you should kick all the non-work related programming out and just enjoy the baby growing up, first smiles and giggles. Use your available time to watch a good movie/soccer game/ read a book, or whatever relaxes you.


I posted an answer to a similar question here.

The bottom line is that you make time.

I'll demonstrate with an anecdote.

My sister is a novelist that writes purely in her spare time. She's got a husband and a son and she's published 4 books and a few short stories. On Mondays her husband and son (though he's 7 now, but she's been writing for a long time) know that it's her time to write. So mondays between 7 and 9 she writes, and they leave her alone.

Wednesdays, my brother-in-law plays hockey in a men's league.

  • 2 hours a week and she's published 4 books! Wow!
    – ozz
    Jan 27, 2011 at 19:33
  • @james: www.jkcoi.com - there's 2 books listed there, but 3 books from a previous publisher (amazon.com/J.-K.-Coi/e/B0036LKAT6/…). Also, she's picked up her writing a fair bit since she was writing mondays from what I can recall. Jan 27, 2011 at 21:16

It depends upon how important the open-source project is in the grand cosmic scheme of things. If the project involves creating trivial screen-savers, you just work on it haphazardly now and then whenever you are too bored to do anything else. If it is a project like http://code.google.com/p/mindforth for creating true artificial intelligence that will bring on a Technological Singularity, then you need to organize your entire life and all available nanoseconds in service to your Grand Challenge Open-Source AI Project.


Since you don't want your opensource project to remain unfinished, I would suggest you to find someone who is willing to contribute to your project. So that at some point of time in the future, your project will get much more matured and you can always contribute it whenever you get time.

Family is much more important than any other things and any opensource project will get eventually succeed when multiple peoples started contributing to it.

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