Last year was the first time I wrote a year in review post and I’ve been looking forward to reviewing twenty-seventeen.

It was a good year for me, work-wise and personally. I got more contract work experience - two contracts and I also landed a freelance client website.

We got quite a lot of work done to the house and I have very nearly finished the treehouse I started building for my children! They will get to finally use it in the summer.

What went well

Being very self-critical, its hard to notice when you’ve had a good year because its easier to remember the not so good things that happened - but I making a point of thinking about the things that did go well first.

Work

I only got did two contracts this year, and to some contractors (and recruiters) this seems to be a big deal - not for me, being freelance/contract doesn’t mean you have to work every day of the year - if I did that, I would pay a huge amount of tax (I pay all the taxes I’m required to pay) and never get to spend any time with my family.

It’s funny how some people react when you tell them you’re taking 4 months off work. Technically I never stopped working, I still run a business and a lot of business tasks get left behind when I’m working away on a contract.

My first contract of the year happened right at the beginning of the year in January. I got to work with a great UX Research team at Ofgem.

This was a great role - my job was to build interactive prototypes based on the research the team had conducted. The prototypes were then tested on real users, people selected at random, based on certain criteria that we needed to test, and I got to watch them interact with the prototypes I had built and seeing how it worked or didn’t. After each testing session, we would then iterated the prototype ready for the next session.

I really enjoy this kind of work.

This was followed by a freelance website design project - a new website for a new business selling prestige cars - Lusso Prestige.

The client approached me to design and build a website for his new business - the client has been selling supercars for Romans Internationals for a quite a few years and he has taken all that experience and set up his own business. The client approached me based on a recommendation and based on the work I did at Motortrak - an agency that specialises in websites for used car dealers like Tom Hartley, Mercedes Benz, McLaren, Ferrari and many more.

This took me until June with a few breaks sprinkled in between. I was then offered a contract at Intelliflo, based in Kingston Upon Thames.

I was hired as a UX/UI Front End Designer and I was brought in to take an existing design and apply it to a new app that was being built in-house. This is was, what’s knows as an SPA or Single Page App - using the angular framework and bootstrap.

The team were building an app store and a developer portal - the app store will feature apps developed for their SaaS software product - Intelligent Office. I took the existing design and built a basic design system using Pattern Labs with Sass and GruntJS.

Once I had built all the existing pages that had been designed and for the prototype working, I was able to redesign pages, components and build new pages and user journeys much faster.

This was originally a 3-month contract, which was later extended to four - I was asked to redesign the app store, developer hub landing pages and the documentation sections.

Ended the year doing a quick job for Molo Finance - I was asked to design and build a temporary landing page as they currently do not have a website.

After 4 months of being away from home and family - I decided to take a break from contract work until the new year. I travelled down to Surrey Sunday nights and stayed until Thursday, then I drove back after work and had the weekends at home - surprising how tiring this gets after four months.

Health

My health has improved in 2017 and I hope to continue improving it this year.

While working away in Surrey on my last contract - I actually went to the gym twice a week. This was the first time I’d been to a gym in about 10 years! So you can imagine, this took some willpower to get me to the gym after a day at the office.

I was also watching what I eat and was eating healthier meals. I find it so much easier to do this when I am away from home, but this is something I need to get better at when working from home.

Still suffering from bad posture related issues - but this is something that I think will never go away fully, after years of not looking after my back and sitting far too long at work - but knowing about it means I know what I need to do to manage it better - more exercise and regular breaks away from the screen.

What didn’t go well

Reading

I continued reading web design/development, but didn’t stick to reading 2 per day - this means I ended up with a huge backlog of articles, that I’ll never get to read and I ended up deleting a huge amount of unread articles twice last year.

I only managed to read six books - I’d set my self a challenge of reading ten books, so I was a bit short there. But I’ve made a good start on Stephen Kings The Dark Tower, currently on the 4th book.

Writing

Only managed four blog posts last year, not great, but better than last year. I had some sort of block, I wasn’t sure who I was writing for, who is my audience.

Focus

Twenty seventeen lacked focus. I ended up with too many things on the go, both work and personal projects, which meant the year ended with quite a few unfinished tasks. So already the start of this year has been lacking focus, so this is why focus is going to be my theme for 2018.

Numbers

I really like collecting stats! Here are some number from 2017. TV series, not all are finished, some I’ve already carried on watching this year. The coffee numbers aren’t all there, I’ve gone through a few phones this past year, so being able to log my coffees hasn’t always been an option.

TV series (17)

  • Arrow
  • Blindspot
  • Castle
  • Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders
  • Colony
  • Dexter
  • Outcast
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Quantico
  • Red Dwarf
  • The A-Team
  • The Flash
  • The Gifted
  • The Orville
  • The Walking Dead
  • ZNation
  • Zoo

Movies (7)

  • Allegiant
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  • Flatliners
  • Insurgent
  • Judge Dredd (1995)
  • The Day
  • The Fault in our Stars
  • The Green Hornet
  • The Jungle Book (2016)

Games Played (7)

  • Destiny
  • Doom
  • Dying Light
  • Fallout 4
  • Gran Turismo
  • Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
  • Minecraft

Contracts (3)

  • Ofgem
  • Intelliflo
  • Molo Finance

Side projects: 1

Blog posts published: 4

Books read: 6

Coffees: 208

What’s ahead for 2018

This year I going to have a theme - and that Focus - I want to be better at focusing on getting things finished, streamlining my business so I don’t spend time doing unnecessary tasks, or end up working more time than I need to. A great example of this is my accounts - since I started freelancing all those years ago, I’ve been doing my own accounts and that meant spreadsheets. But since I started my limited company and got an accountant, it turns out he doesn’t use my spreadsheet - he just needs the bank statements with some notes on items that aren’t obvious - so it turns out I’ve been doing unnecessary work.

Health: I want to continue improving my health. I’m going to make sure I continue with the gym when I’m away on contracts and will be building my own mini gym at home, once I’ve cleared out the garage.

Work: I need to get to a stage where my contracts are seamless without any large gaps in between. I also want to get into remote work so that I can spend less time away from home.

Writing: Continue writing blog posts - I’ve decided (thanks to some useful advice) to focus on writing for me, this will allow me to improve my writing and allow me to discover who my audience is.

Reading: Continue reading at least two design/development articles per day. Carry on reading my Steven King and technical books - get a least 10 books read this year.

Video: I also want to start creating more videos - I did some personal gaming ones, but I want to create some web design video content in 2018.

That’s it for my year in review post for twenty-seventeen. Have you written a year in review post? I’d love to read it.

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