2021 Review

Read more about my challenges and experiences of my first fully remote pandemic year and what my goals for 2022 are.

Mike Henderyckx
written by Mike Henderyckx
published 2021-12-31 β€’ 5 min read
2021 Review

Looking back over the past year, starting my journey as a freelance webdeveloper is the best decision I've made careerwise.

Freelance Webdeveloper

2021 is the year I started my journey as a freelance webdeveloper. After 6 years of working at 2 top firms, I was convinced I've amassed enough knowledge and experience to take this big step.

Looking back over the past year, starting my journey as a freelance webdeveloper is the best decision I've made careerwise. πŸ“ˆ

Coping with the pandemic

Just like previous year, Corona is still very present. Work From Home was the norm last year. The first months (from march 2020) were difficult for me since there wasn't a clear line between work and free time. Creating a dedicated workspace was the solution. I'm currently sharing a room with my 2 cats, but they don't mind. 😺

Luckily I still have lot of daily interactions with my colleagues through Microsoft Teams. There isn't a single day where I don't hear or see a colleague. Ofcourse this isn't the same as real life interactions, but I think we're doing well. I'm very lucky to have such colleagues. It wouldn't be the same without them.

Nevertheless I'm hoping to see my colleagues more again.

Mike's 2 cats, Poppy and Odette

For now I'll have to settle with Odette and Poppy.

Rediscovering audiobooks

I like to read physical books but sometimes I have trouble concentrating for longer periods of time. Audiobooks are a blessing since I can combine this when working out or walking the dog.

Last 2 months I listened to more than 15 audiobooks. The following 3 were the most influential.

  1. Atomic Habits by James Clear
  2. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  3. How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price

The biggest takeaway for me is keeping a to-do list with habits and tasks that I need and want to do. Another important strategy that motivates me is "Don't Break the Chain".

Breaking up with my smartphone

After reading How to Break Up With Your Phone I deleted all social media apps & games from my smartphone. If I want to check social media, I can. I just need to use a computer. This strategy decreased my 'online' time and drastically improved my focus & productivity.

Web Content Accessibility

Working at public service companies requires websites and applications to be accessible for every user. I started by reading Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) thoroughly, making sure I understand them and why they're important.

Next to that, I've also watched several video coures about this topic. These are my 3 favourite video coures about accessibility.

  1. Web Accessibility by Alice Boxhall, Rob Dodson & Michael Wales on Udacity
  2. Accessibility in JavaScript Applications by Marcy Sutton on Frontend Masters
  3. Website Accessibility v2 by Jon Kuperman on Frontend Masters

Next to learning, I've also followed a live workshop about Accessibility training for front-end developers given by Anysurfer.

Using a screen reader

In order to test my applications as good as possible, I encouraged myself using a real screen reader. Luckily OSx ships with VoiceOver, a built-in screen reader. It took some weeks, but now I'm proficient enough to navigate and interact with different form elements.

My goals for 2022

During the holidays I had some time to think of new challenges and ways of stepping outside of my comfort zone.

  1. Blogging
  2. Diving deeper into Accessibility on the web ️
  3. Giving a talk or presentation 🎀
  4. Getting used to the qwerty keyboard layout ⌨️
  5. Developing a mobile application πŸ“±

Goal 1: Blogging

Reading and writing about a specific topic is an excellent way of learning and developing a deeper understanding about something. Swyx has written an interesting blogpost about learning in public where he concludes this is the fastest way to learn. I think writing a monthly blogpost seems achievable.

Goal 2: Diving deeper into Accessibility on the web

Last year I learned a lot about Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Since WCAG 2.2 is scheduled to be published by June 2022, it would be benificial to know and understand the new guidelines so I can apply them to my current projects.

Goal 3: Giving a talk or presentation

For me personally, this is the biggest and most scary one. Although this can be an opportunity to retrieve more extensive knowlegde of a given topic. Possible topics are ReactJS, Accessibility or more broadly web-related stuff.

Goal 4: Getting used to the qwerty keyboard layout

Recently, I was doing some research into mechanical keyboards because it's time to jump on the bandwagon. Unfortunately, some keyboards are only availble in qwerty layout.

Another reason is that in theory, qwerty keyboards require less complex key combinations thus enabling me to type faster. I started learning touch typing in high-school when I was thirteen years old. Until now, I've always used azerty-keyboards so I hope this won't be too hard.

Luckily I've got a spare qwerty-keyboard which I will use from now on.

Goal 5: Develop a mobile application

In 2014 I created a mobile application for my favorite football club. I would like to do this again, especially with all the new skills & technologies that are available right now. My first guess would be using React Native but Swift, or maybe another programming languge, isn't out of the option.

Conslusion

Despite COVID-19, 2021 was a great year for me personally. Let's make 2022 even better!

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