5 Tips for Staying Productive in Open Source Projects

5 Tips for Staying Productive in Open Source Projects


5 min read

Congratulations! ๐ŸŽŠ You have made it through steep digital mountains to find an open-source project and cut through webs and webs of project files to pick your contributions. But before you can bring out the confetti, there is another opponent you will fightโ€ฆ.procrastination. As fun as open-source contributions are, they can be pretty tricky to do as most open-source projects have tight deadlines, which tempts you to get lazy, especially when you also have other commitments like school and social life, and doing other things the average human does like eating. But fear not procrastinators, I will be sharing 5 tips and tricks for staying productive while making open source contributions. From setting realistic expectations to taking regular breaks, these tips will help you stay focused and get things done. So stop scrolling through Instagram(or whatever social media you use) and let's get started! ๐Ÿ˜Š

1. Set Realistic Expectations

As much as we'd like to think we can accomplish everything in one day, the truth is that open source contributions can take a lot of time. Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself can lead to disappointment and burnout. So, before diving into a new project or task, make sure you have a clear understanding of what you can realistically accomplish and in what time frame. For me, I find it helpful to write a checklist on Google Docs or Trello and break down each aspect of my chosen contribution into steps. This keeps me focused and organized. Give it a try. Trust me, this method will save you from chugging coffee (or any caffeinated drink) all night trying to fix a bug.

An anthropomorphic green onion and apple stare at their computer from night to day.

2. Prioritize self-care

I know you want to be an open sourcer and make awesome contributions, but that doesn't mean you should neglect your physical and mental health in the process. For me, I find it helpful to do some exercises before doing some open source contributions. They help me think clearly. Here are some links of exercise videos that I recommend you try:

Remember, healthy coder = happy coder, so don't be afraid to take a break, even if it's just for a quick cat nap.

Garfield, an orange cat with black stripes falls asleep

3. Eliminate distractions

Letโ€™s be honest, sometimes we sit down to work on an open source project and end up watching cat videos on YouTube. To avoid getting sidetracked, eliminate as many distractions as possible. Turn off notifications, close unnecessary tabs, and put your phone in another room. And if all else fails, invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. My personal favorite are the AirPods (disclaimer: Iโ€™m not an Apple affiliate). Remember, keep your eye on the merge.

Phone being turned off

4. Set time limits

We all know that time goes fast when we're engrossed in open source contributions, but that doesn't mean we should neglect our other responsibilities. To avoid burnout, set time limits for your work sessions. I like using Pomodoro videos because it reminds me to take a break. Check out this one:

Remember, just because you set a time limit doesn't mean you have to stop working. It just means you'll have a good excuse to take a break to get some snacks or catch up on the season finale of your favorite show. Trust me, your contributions will be much better if you're not constantly staring at the screen and your eyes don't feel like they're about to fall out.

5. Reassess

When working on open source contributions, It's so easy to get lost in it and lose sight of the big picture. To avoid this, take a step back and reassess your progress and goals. Make sure that you're still working towards the original goal and if not, readjust your strategy. Personally, I refer back to my checklist or the repositoryโ€™s guidelines to track my progress. Sometimes, the best way to move forward is to take a step back. And if you're still stuck, don't be afraid to ask for assistance from others. Remember, the open-source community thrives on collaboration and improvement rather than calling you names and making fun of your contributions.

Red checklist is being marked for completion


There you have it folks, 5 tips for staying productive while making open source contributions. Remember, open source contributions don't have to be a never-ending cycle of stress and burnout. With the right mindset and tools, you can make a difference in the world and still have a life. And if you have any tips of your own, don't be shy, share them in the comment section below. We're all in this together, procrastinators unite!

Dwight from The Office is prepped for action

Thanks for reading! If you want to stay in the loop, why not click on the envelope icon on top to subscribe to my blog and follow me on Hashnode? That way, youโ€™ll be the first to know when I post more tips to help you survive open source projects and other tech stuff. And if you want to connect with me, check out my socials on Linkfree. Iโ€™d love to be your coding buddy!


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