Many engineers hear about personal projects (side projects) as a way to accelerate career growth but are confused about how to allocate time for these projects. This video covers a few strategies to balance time between your day job and self-learning.
Avoid a Binary Approach: Don't view your day job and side projects as completely distinct: ideally, the work you do in one is good for the other. This can manifest not only in terms of the skills you're building, but also your enthusiasm for writing code or understanding a domain in more detail. Productivity and fulfillment are often maximized when one can excel at work and pursue personal projects simultaneously.
Learning Integration: Integrate your learning from both day job and personal projects. The knowledge gained in one domain can be applied to the other, so you become better at both!
Effective Self-Learning: Passive content consumption, such as watching videos or reading blog posts without active engagement, is ineffective for learning. Instead, explain concepts to others or build something to truly benefit from self-learning.
Company-Career Mismatch: In larger organizations, the company's objectives may not always align with individual career goals. The responsibility for your personal career growth is yours -- don't delegate this to the company! That's why you need to invest in self-learning and personal projects to build the skills and experiences necessary that are best for you.
Enjoyable Self-Learning: Instead of focusing on the balance between work and personal learning, find ways to make self-learning a fun and fulfilling experience. Common ways this manifests: hitting the publish button, seeing the download count on your app go up, or seeing comments on a blog post you wrote.
Like most things career-related, you should take a proactive approach to career development. Self-learning is no different!