Building Software Every Day For a Year

John Braat

Jonathan Braat / October 18, 2022 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 🚀

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 ≈100 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 🙂

With that, happy hacking!

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