An interesting take on the tonic for being overwhelmed at work. Their solution is to embrace the side project, arguing that the ideas generated will cross-fertilize your day job, and may transform to a career in and of itself.
For my part, these side projects can take many forms but can include, volunteering to give back to the organization that you work for in a way that isn’t specifically related to your job.
These might include volunteering to work on horizontal/Department-wide projects: a values and ethics working group, organizing an activity for “learn at work” week, working for the professional development network or the charitable campaign.
The benefits will include meeting people from other parts of the organization, picking up new skills and using existing skills in new ways. As well, you will have the reputation for being willing to do a bit extra to assist the organization.
And, depending on your environment, you can always float an idea for a completely new idea. For instance, for multiple years, I organized a volunteer day with colleagues at an organization in the community related to our Departmental mandate.
The last point I’d make is to remember the energy it can generate to be working on projects at different stages at the same time. Seth Godin has written a book about “The Dip.” Basically, as he says, every project starts out fun and exciting and gets much less so at a certain point. It is always hard to figure out whether to bail during the dip or whether to stay at it but to be sure, all projects have “dips”. What I have found useful is having projects at different stages to work on and with luck, they won’t all be at the bottom of dip so that energy is generated by moving in-between each.