Β 

Building Software Every Day For a Year

John Braat

Jonathan Braat / October 18, 2022 β‹… 6 min read

I have challenged myself to build software every day for a whole year straight. Here are the reasons behind it, how it's going and my learnings so far.

Github streak

2022 has been the year of challenges for me.

Next to a few other challenges, I have challenged myself in February to work on building software business or personal projects every single day for a whole year. Currently, I'm at day 253 out of 365.

Should you do this as well?

In this article I talk about my why behind it, what I have built and what I have learned.

Why build something every day?

Good question.

I mainly had three reasons for doing this:

  1. Build and strengthen the habit of building software
  2. A boost in building experience, but also for the "experience"
  3. Build a portfolio of profitable SaaS businesses

I was partly inspired by Pieter Levels' 12 startups in 12 months challenge, but have also done challenges like this in the past. One of them was not eating meat for a year.

Anyway, Levels' approach didn't seem right for me, as I'm working full time.

I shifted the idea from X startups in Y time to continuous progress. I wanted to test my limits in terms of discipline and consistency, building startups or side projects every day, while also working 40 hours for someone else.

I may start a more outcome oriented challenge once I finish this one.

What I have built

Github streak

First off my rules for the challenge. There is only one:

At least one meaningful commit per day

That's it. Simple. "Meaningful" is obviously up for interpretation, but since I'm challenging myself I wanted to make sure I couldn't cheat with menial tasks. Meaningful generally means one of the projects I'm working on made progress in some area.

Maybe a button here, a lambda function there, you get the gist.

Here is what I have built so far:

That's it πŸš€

How it went so far and my learnings

It was quite taxing at the beginning to program every single day. Not only do I program at work, but now I'm also building after work. I'm not going to lie... It took a lot of getting over myself on some days.

Because it was hard at first, I focused on one task per day. This usually equaled 1 commit.

What helped a lot was planning my upcoming task the evening before. That way, I always new where to start and could plan smaller things for fuller days and bigger things for less busy days.

I slowly ramped up to more commits. You can kind of see this in my Github commit history. It's amazing how much quicker I can make connection or spin up anything.

Learnings so far:

  • Programming every day makes you much quicker. I make connections way faster now, and it feels great to ride this wave of momentum
  • It requires a lot of discipline on some days to keep going. You can find my tips on discipline here
  • As I want to grow these products and businesses I also do some marketing tasks. This includes small product videos, Reddit posts, Reddit answers, Twitter outreach and forum posts. Marketing is a ton of work besides just the regular programming, which I definitely underestimated.
  • If you want to get stuff done and not just learn new tech use a familiar stack. You can find a write-up on the stack I use here.
  • It's amazing what you can do with momentum. Looking back on all the things I have built in just 254 days AFTER work is insane. I think keeping this momentum is vital.
  • Tech: I obviously learned a lot in terms of tech, but I'm not going to list this here. The list would be too long

Closing thoughts

Should you challenge yourself to program every day for a year?

I'm not sure. It's pretty intense.

So far, I would say it has been worth it, but we will see how the last β‰ˆ100 days will go. I still need to make it through the Christmas holidays.

I would probably recommend a challenge with one day off per week, if you wanted to go a little easier on yourself πŸ™‚

With that, happy hacking!

If you liked this article and know a friend who could benefit from it as well, please consider sharing it πŸ™ If you want to get news and updates from me, subscribe to the newsletter below πŸ‘‡ or follow me on Twitter.

Subscribe to my newsletter

Get notifications about new personal development and SaaS blog posts.

View all issues

Related Articles