3 hour hacks

Here’s my next big idea.

Here’s my next big idea.

Most products seem to be an idea that you can knock up a prototype for in three hours, if you know what you’re doing.

1 aAX TP pQloG9lQfL4xIOw 2x

Even if you don’t know what you’re doing you can learn an awful lot about a subject in that space of time.

My ‘big idea’ is to time-box my side projects into three-hour hacks. I’ll work on an idea for three hours, with a focus on producing something new and unique, and then stop; document, and evaluate progress and likelihood of eventual success.

Essentially it’s a bit of mental re-framing, a release from the pressure of creating a perfect product. I can always continue with a prototype if I like where it’s heading, or I can shelve it for some indeterminate point in the future.


I’m reminded of this comment from when Dropbox first came out;

“For a Linux user, you can already build such a system yourself quite trivially by getting an FTP account, mounting it locally with curlftpfs, and then using SVN or CVS on the mounted filesystem. From Windows or Mac, this FTP account could be accessed through built-in software.”

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? The key to success with a product is not whether it’s already achievable, its the other 99% – time and effort, dedication, marketing, infrastructure and a paying audience, to name a few.


My motivation with side projects is to create something that I want, and it would be a nice bonus to have others want it also. I enjoy learning as I go and I don’t have lots of time and money and effort to expend pushing these projects mainstream, and I’m okay with that. If I can crack the core of the tech in three hours that’s enough of a win for me.

3 Hour Hacks, here we come.