Now that a lot of people are publishing their year in review posts, I decided to write my first one, too, this time. And if only to be able to look back later on what I did and thought about in 2019.
Writing a full “decade in review” post seemed a bit too excessive to me, though. So much has happened in the last ten years! Here is the TL;DR: I obtained my university degree in design, married the love of my life, our two children were born, I worked the whole 10 years as a freelance designer, finding my way as a professional and making lots of good friends along the way.
Overall, 2019 was a good year for my family and me. After the birth of our daughter in 2017, 2018 had intentionally been a bit slower work-wise but that changed again in 2019, with a lot of interesting work – in fact, maybe even a bit too much work at times. This is also the reason why I finally decided to set up a personal task management system. It’s a stripped-down version of Getting Things Done that I manage in Things, the ingenious to do app by Cultured Code. I am still improving the details and working on making it a habit but getting my to dos out of my head into a system has helped me a lot already, especially in the more work-intense weeks of the year.
As in the past years, the main focus of my work was designing and coding projects for the Web. In 2019, this again included a lot of freelance work for agencies, where I worked on anything from small landing pages to large corporate websites, but I also worked on projects for own clients. Overall, the year was a bit more split up into smaller projects than 2018, where I had worked in two large projects for several months straight. But I am fine with both, as long as the work is challenging. And given that, depending on the client, I do UX strategy, design, and front-end development work these days, I always had interesting problems to solve.
2019 was the second year I ran workshops for Adobe Systems on designing and prototyping with Adobe XD. Running workshops is a lot of fun and in the past year, I started feeling even more comfortable in teaching groups of various sizes, professions, and levels of experience. In total, I ran 18 workshops in cities like:
This naturally included a lot of travel but was also a welcome change to the “usual” design work. A huge thank you to everyone at Adobe for this opportunity, in particular, Andre Jay Meissner, to the other designers in the XDI team, and everyone who came to my workshops.
A personal highlight of 2019 was that I also ran my very first own workshop. It was a two-day workshop on Responsive Web Design and the modern web design process in general. In 2020, I want to run more of my own workshops. I have two workshops ready: The one on RWD and another one all about prototyping for the Web. If this sounds interesting, get in touch. You can find more information about my workshops here.
2019 was the seventh year that I had the opportunity to teach Interface Prototyping at the Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design, Kiel. It is a great pleasure to work with the students each year and I’m already looking forward to the next semester.
My little free monthly newsletter on prototyping and the ideas and processes related to adopting a prototyping mindset has been around for the second year now. The audience of the newsletter is rather small but excellent and I still very much enjoy curating and writing the newsletter. I feel flattered by the feedback I received throughout the year from people taking the time to write to me. Thank you all very much! On the other hand, the project still consumes more time than I initially thought. So in the new year, I will look at how to improve the process a bit so I can keep on writing this newsletter.
My personal site
One of the best decisions of my professional and personal life has been to start writing on this website back in 2015. In 2019, this became ever more clear to me. I wrote and published a total of 23 posts and my article on the future of personal websites and why you should get one was by far my most successful piece yet. Writing such longer posts is always a joy but at the same time, it takes a lot of time to write and edit them. So just like last year, I only managed to write one long read in 2019. I still want to get better and faster at this and publish longer posts more regularly. Let’s see which topic catches my attention next.
Currently, I am writing a series of Thoughts on Writing. In part to share what I learned about writing from various articles, podcasts, and books. But also to clarify my thoughts on writing and the strategies around it. Let me know what you think.
Mostly thanks to the wonderful invention of audiobooks, I started reading – and listening – a lot more again in 2019. Some of the books I very much enjoyed include:
- This is Marketing, by Seth Godin
- Inclusive Components, by Heydon Pickering
- Form Design Patterns, by Adam Silver
- Future Ethics, by Cennydd Bowles
- The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield
- The Culture Code, by Daniel Coyle
- The Art of Possibility, by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
- Demystifying Public Speaking, by Lara Hogan
- Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferriss
- On Writing, by Stephen King
- Design Systems, by Alla Kholmatova
- The Uninhabitable Earth, by David Wallace-Wells
- The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough
- Getting Things Done, by David Allen
- Creative Calling, by Chase Jarvis
- Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahnemann
- Atomic Habits, by James Clear
- Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott
- Sense & Respond, by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden
- Feck Perfuction, by James Victore
If you look closely, you might notice that there isn’t a single novel on the list. The reason: I did not touch a single novel in 2019. I will change that in 2020.
Towards autumn of 2019, I realized that although I had always thought of myself as still being in reasonably good shape, I was constantly feeling a bit worn out and I had not been doing any kind of sport for several years. You are what you do, so they say, and how sporty can you possibly be if you don’t actually do any sports? So, also being triggered by my wife who started running again in summer, I decided to try running, too. I had just read Atomic Habits by James Clear and knew that if I wanted to start doing any kind of sport again, it had to be easy and rewarding. Only then, it could become a habit and thus a regular part of my life again. I started running in early November. I set myself two goals: Go for a run of at least 15 minutes. Do it daily and if I ever had to skip a day: Never skip twice. It worked out astonishingly well, although I still missed a few days. In November and December, I ran 35 times in total. I extended my route twice and am now running about 3.5 kilometers in 18 minutes, feeling confident that I will soon be running for half an hour at a comfortable pace. Not overdoing it and starting cautiously was the key, I guess. Going for a short run never felt like a burden but always like a doable exercise.
Regarding health and self-care, I have one huge goal for 2020: To sleep more, ideally for at least 7 hours a night.
Here’s to 2020
I don’t like new year resolutions that much but I keep a list of things that would be nice to accomplish in the near future. I won’t tell you what’s on that list (😉) but rather write about it in my next year in review post.
There is one huge topic, though, that already dominated 2019 for me and, to be honest, often also darkened my thoughts: Climate change. Climate change is not a hoax, not an opinion, and most certainly not hysteria. It is a scientific fact and the most pressing issue of our lifetimes. I am sure that it will be dominating 2020 and the next decade like no other issue. We are desperately in need of solutions, both on the personal as well as the political and societal levels and it can sometimes be hard to stay hopeful. Yet in the end, there is simply no other option than to act and change. Change how humanity produces and consumes energy and goods. Change our way of life and how we travel. But most importantly, we need to find ways to cope with the impacts that are already locked into the system. At the end of the decade that has just started, my son will be 18 years old and my daughter will be 12. What happens in this decade will determine if they will be able to look into the future with confidence and hope. If we all can. Let’s get to work.
I am sure that, despite the huge challenges ahead, we will make 2020 one of the best years yet. I wish you all a healthy, successful, and happy 2020 and hope to meet and talk with as many of you as possible – online and in real life.