It's December out there, and, as Pepsi cleverly put it on their ads, "All I want for Christmas is 2021". But before we hurry into a new year (supposedly different from 2020, surprising in every possible aspect) let's set some time aside to reflect on the predicaments and lessons learned over the past months. After all, such a challenging period of time ought to result in enlightening insights, right?
We asked our team at dops.digital to share what would they call their personal "Realization Of 2020". Anything – a practice that helped to adjust and become more productive in the new normal, a tool of the trade, or protips for a work-life balance.
That is not a traditional year in review, and we don't know what's coming next, so...
For each project, I take time to "feel it" – what character it has and how does it sound. Then I pick a similar playlist and keep listening to it until the design is finished. The audio environment gets me in the flow, synchs with the style and identity, makes it stand out from the rest.
Implicitly that helps to learn even after the work is done. Whenever I have a new task with a similar musical mood, in the back of my mind I remember the ideas I had on this subject before or methods that could deliver a better, concise digital experience. As opposed to starting from ground zero each time, this "feel the project" approach helped me level up my grid, coloring and typography game.
In 2020 I went on a sugar-free diet and started exercising purposefully. It boosted my productivity at work enormously. That's something I would definitely recommend to anyone. It works like a chain reaction in the loop: my new diet resulted in higher energy levels and a good mood, so I started doing sports, which affected my sleeping schedule. I go to bed and wake up earlier than I used to, and when I get to the office I feel better and calmer. I don't need coffee anymore, healthy lifestyle energizes me on a whole new level.
In the past several months I started working with Jira, Confluence, dev tools, and got basic knowledge on how to use Swagger (a set of rules for expressing RESTful APIs with JSON!) – for quality assurance engineer at a design studio that's heavily technical.
And you think 2020 was scary?
This year I sharpened my skills in React, Redux, and Next. They are essential for writing large applications.
I invested time into an in-depth exploration of Vue, Vuex, and Nuxt. It paid off, speeding up the development. Writing SPA/SSR applications is so much simpler now.
I studied REST API to make data transfer from Strapi CMS to the website in production seamless and organized. And it improved my Node and MySQL skills along the way. Now creating custom plug-ins is a piece of cake.
This 2020 lockdown taught me a difficult, yet extremely important skill of time management. We all know that a systematic time management is good for you, but I guess the benefits don't work as effective as the necessity.
Installing a system of using my time thoughtfully was extremely exhausting through the turbulence of the quarantine, but eventually it helped to bring back the balance into my work and personal life.
I strongly believe now that structuring the time "costs" is crucial for everyone.
A note to younger me: statically typed language is better than dynamic.
I used to have tons of bugs in JS, they were insanely difficult to reproduce. And then, in 2020 I joined dops.digital and started using TypeScript. That changed everything.
With TS you can easily understand functions and efficiently debug them, gaining so much clarity. Very much recommend it.
While the crisis seemed to get worse, I got an opportunity to become better.
2020 is the year when I tried out a dozen new plug-ins and techniques for creating 3D graphics, learned to adjust the media files to respond better to web limitations, and found out that permanently organizing work files makes the work itself so much easier and truly enjoyable.
Even though for almost half a year everyone had to struggle with the remote work, for me 2020 was the year that highlighted the importance of teamwork. Staying virtually together with my teammates helped me a lot when the work challenges demanded responsibility and patience.
Being back to the office is really energizing because I know that together we are an effective company.
My discovery of the year – Next.js, a React framework for web apps. Yes, it simplifies coding and brings quality to the end-product. But most of all, programming with Next.js just feels great. Since the beginning of my career, this is the best experience I have ever had with a framework.
Despite 2020 being a pretty stressful year, it opened new horizons for me. Here, at dops.digital I’ve met a bunch of amazingly creative people who showed me many fresh angles of observing the world. I’ve learned how to be more down-to-earth but realized how many beautiful things are happening in our day-to-day life.
The newest thing to me is that now I’m in touch with different people abroad who are looking for digital design support. Even though I used to stutter a bit during my first calls, I learned how to communicate with each potential client and help them find the best solution for their business.
I could tell a lot more things that I’ve learned during 2020, but this article is supposed to be not only about me, right? :)
Certainly, you have experienced "a-ha" moments during 2020. Maybe you discovered the right tool for the job, detected a bulletproof method for a good mood amidst crisis or figured out a perfect work-Netflix balance. Will you tell us?
Cheers to small realizations, that can make any year better!