Skill up by doing fun side projects

Skill up by doing fun side projects

It's easy to get caught up in the daily grind of getting on with either your career or your business life. I've always advocated that learning is a life long pursuit, and success comes from constantly being challenged to learn new skills and knowledge.

One way of doing this is to find fun side projects to do in your life that will ultimately teach you new skills and provide some fun in your life. If you approach these side projects with the same energy as you do in your life, then you should learn more about other things as well as yourself.

I'll give you a few examples, I've had a number of side projects I've done throughout my life and with each one I can clearly see what I've learnt and improved myself is some other way I hadn't imagined.

Floor-standing speakers

One of my first ever projects was recently refurbished and in both cases I learnt new skills and also tested my own resolve and determination. The first time round was at least 15 years ago and I must admit I was extremely into hi fidelity music back then and my passion got a little over the top at times.

Attempting to design and build my own large floor-standing speakers was one of these times, but I did learn things I never thought I would. I learnt about the physics of sound and enclosure design. I learnt about speaker displacement and air displacement, which in turn helped me to locate bass ports in the correct place on the enclosure. I also had to learn about the electronics of crossovers and how to wire up correctly.

I did some woodworking, carving with a jigsaw and initially I opted for varnish stain, so I had to paint the whole thing, making it look like old wood. Overall the speakers were sufficient, but I had always wanted to improve them.

So a few months ago I decided to refurbish them from the inside out and I realised something when I started to take apart my creation. I realised how amateur a job I had done in the past, even though I was extremely proud of my achievement. This time round I did things even more properly. I completely sanded down all the wood and smoothed off all the edges. I skimmed the surface with filler and re-sanded to hide all the wood join seams and then I went about painting.

I was painting them white to match the new lounge design. But it wasn't as easy as just a paint job, I wanted a piano gloss finish on the box to make it look like it was shop bought and when I researched how to achieve this, I saw how tricky it would be, but it didn't stop me.

It involved multiple layers of paint, with wet and dry sanding methods in-between coats, then it involved the same process with no less than 10 layers of clear lacquer. In the end I got the desired result and all it took was patience and a bit of internet research to find the right tools and techniques.

Why am I telling you this? It's because I'm trying to illustrate how skills learnt and methods learnt doing one thing could easily apply to the entrepreneurial tasks I was doing in business. Patience is one and learning that sometimes doing the same thing over again with variations each time might get you the result you need. That's a bit like tweaking SEO for webpages, which is a lot of doing the same thing over and over again with slight tweaks each time.

Other side projects I've done include building a funky bookshelf out of wooden apple crates, building a subwoofer enclosure to fit a Toyota Supra boot perfectly, developing my own home-made recipes for shaving oils and also home-made nut milks as an alternative to dairy.

Not only are they fun but you can learn a lot from developing other skills in your life.

Future projects

Some of my future projects are quite interesting and will take me into uncharted territory again.

I'm looking to craft my own Bo Staff at some point which is a martial arts weapon. There is a lot of intricate carving that will need to be done for decoration, but there's also wood working to learn about carving a staff from a single piece of wood.

I'm keen to build some alpine garden troughs out of cement, stone and sand. These will be made to look aged and then house some fun alpine plant arrangements. There used to be a lot of these types of troughs 100 years ago, but plastics took over and most people tend to go with modern planters.

I have another project to build a bee hotel out of old pallets, tin cans and other garden salvage. I'm doing my bit to promote a healthy been population in my garden as they are very beneficial to the ecology of a good looking garden.

I'm also looking to build a solar heater out of old aluminium soda cans at some point. This is based off some laws of thermodynamics and creates a heating system that's free to run and will raise the temperature of a room but 10 degrees at least.

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