Does your GitHub profile show a long streak of commits? Or do you find that, like most of us, you just have too much going on in your life to consistently dedicate time to working on open source?

With all you’ve got going on - family, work, hobbies, learning new skills, and everything else that you choose to do - making time to work on open source can seem impossible.

Still, you know that making time for open source can really pay off… you’ll develop your skills, make connections, and build up a solid code portfolio.

If, like the rest of us, you have trouble consistently making time to work on open source, try one of these three strategies:

1. Integrate open source work in to your learning

You already spend time learning to improve your programming skills, so why not use a part of that for open source? You can keep a code journal… just a few notes in a repository that you use to keep track of your learning that day.

Over time, you’ll build up a streak on GitHub… and that will motivate you to do even more.

By the time you decide to make the jump from taking notes to creating working software, you’ll have built up the habit of sharing code on GitHub and it won’t scare you anymore… or at least it will scare you a bit less :)

2. Work in an open source study group

Working in groups can give you a real boost - you have other people to share your ideas with and keep the energy going. Find or set up a group of like-minded learners who want to contribute to open source… and share your journals, or work on an open source project together - whether an existing one, or one you create yourselves.

3. Set a 5-minute timer and code away

Sometimes you just need a little bit of momentum to get you going… set a timer for 5 minutes, and only commit to working for that time. Jot down some notes, or a code idea, and then commit it to git and push to GitHub.

It might seem silly at first, but just five minutes per day can help you build a habit.

By the time the clock starts winding down to zero, you might feel yourself getting into a groove and wanting to extend the timer. Go for it! Take advantage of this burst of inspiration. Just make sure to stop when you still feel good… you want to end on a high note, so that you come back to your next session fresh and excited.

We all struggle to find the time to work on open source, but a few minutes per day can help you build a habit that will really push your programming career forward.

If you found these strategies useful, or you have different ideas for how to make time for open source, then comment on this article and let me know!