· 1013 words · 5 minute read

Year review 2021

Stepping into a new year

Another year, another yearly review. Vaccines didn’t kill Covid and we ended the year in a lockdown. Still, there was enough to be very happy for, and it feels like 2021 was a transitional year in a lot of respects for me. I have a good feeling about 2022.

This yearly review is becoming a January tradition for me (here’s last year, the year before that and two years back) and it’s motivating to see how much I can do in a year.

This I year I turned my attention from research, machine learning and experimentation, to writing and note-taking.

Personal stuff #

This was another year of mainly staying at home. We made our lockdown-weeks a lot less stressful by sacrificing vacation-days instead of playing “parent-teacher-employee” at the same time. Although it was better during lockdown, I noticed the lack of real free holidays broke me a bit in the long run. Turns out you need some time off every now and then.

My youngest son decided to switch from “sleeping the whole night through” to “waking up every night screaming” for the last 6 months. So we lost a lot of sleep. This is one of the thresholds I crossed in the last week of 2021: we are getting a sleeping coach for him. Fingers crossed for better nights 🤞

The books I really liked this year where the 99% invisible city and the surprisingly funny Every day information architecture. I also read a lot about consciousness and language.

Quick creative recap: I recorded a music-video with my daughter to the Frozen song. I did a workshop with an artist. I’m taking piano lessons with my daughter. And I take my camera with me some evenings when I go for a walk, adding some pretty cool photos to my collection.

An art experiment: a paint can swinging on a rope
the experiment I did in a personal workshop with an artist

House #

We bought a dish-washer (it took me months and multiple Excelsheets to get the right one 😆), had builders add an extension to our house, I’ve been painting a lot of walls and window panes, breaking away an old wall, and I laid another laminate floor. Pfew.

I even wrote an article on how I keep the house warm while saving energy.

New blog subject: The Future #

I started a new blog called T+2 on Medium (the articles also get archived on Matth-ijs.nl). In this blog I write ‘news articles from the future’.

The first article was about a girl wanting to replace her biological arms with bionic ones (and her father having some understandable doubts on that), the second article about a future without meat (do school-children see us meat-eaters from the past as murderers?) and the third article about a new kind of dress (written from the perspective of a fashion-writer who is fed up with augmented-reality clothing).

I have loads of ideas for follow up articles, so hit the follow button on Medium if you’re into this sort of thing.

New interest: note-taking! #

I picked up a new interest in note taking. I surveyed my friends and random strangers on how they make notes (read the resulting article here) and published an article comparing Bear, Notion and Roam.

I’ve decided that the space is pretty much saturated with great apps, but the one thing I’m missing is a way to keep small, structured notes on knowledge that I found. So I’m now writing my own software for knowledge-management. This is a very big step for me (crossing another threshold!), really putting in the effort to create something instead of only ‘dreaming about it’. The software is in pre-alpha: it works and I’m dogfooding it, but it’s not good enough to share yet. Sign up for the newsletter at the end of one of the articles, or just follow me on Medium to keep up to date on my new software.

The easter puzzle #

For the second year in a row, I made a cryptographic word-puzzle for my friends and family in the Easter weekend.

The theme was food.

This years Easter puzzle will be in English!

Six puzzles of the easter-puzzle

1001ideas.org #

I have a blog where I publish ‘strange inventions’ called 1001ideas.org. This year I published three silly ideas there: the Homepub for corona-times, the Churner to make butter while you work out, and a browser plugin called The New Yorker which adds swear words to every website.

Job stuff #

So I switched jobs! From a Sr. UX Designer position at a small (but incredible) agency – Angi Studio - to Sr. UX Designer at a large (but friendly) corporate: PostNL. Threshold crossed!

Design articles #

I wrote about a bad design-decision the municipality of The Hague made for a pedestrian crossing and a humorous (?) article about the bullshit designers peddle sometimes.

UX research #

I published an email-course in user-research (Dutch only) together with my then-colleagues at Angi Studio.

I also wrote several articles: how to make better notes of interviews (in Dutch), a description of my self-developed method to replace personas, an overview article of 17 alternative methods for personas. Over 6K people read that last article.

Statistics #

I wrote 782 words in 1001ideas.org and 19.155 words in my blog-articles, it’s 16 articles total. This is up from 11 articles, but still not as much as my record-year of 2020 where I wrote 20 articles. I doubled my word count with respect to last year. A typical book has 50K pages, so if I double my word count again this year I’ll have written a book.

This resulted in 12.540 views on Medium (especially the design articles, nobody really cares about my future-articles 🤣). I got an additional 2.100 views on this blog, especially the easter puzzle and my 2019 article on shared albums in Apple Photos.

It’s nice to see my articles get reach, but I should add the writing is mainly for myself. It helps me understand my thoughts.

2022 #

So, big plans for 2022: working on my own software and improving my skills as designer. Let’s see which transformations last and if more changes are coming 💪