Waiting until the last possible moment to write these recap posts seems to have become a tradition for me. This year, I decided to follow up on last year’s goals and list a few new ones for 2016.
On July 14 of 2015, I finally shipped Cushion, the freelancing app that has absolutely consumed my life for the past two years. The day went off without a hitch and I watched as a wave of new users signed up to try it out. Ever since, I’ve been trying my hardest to grow it into a sustainable app that I could turn into a full-time career. So far, I’m about halfway there, and I’m ecstatic about Cushion’s future—especially this upcoming year. I plan to hire a few freelancers to help get Cushion to the next level, which is both exciting and terrifying.
I didn’t take advantage of spreadsheets as much as I had hoped this past year, but I did use spreadsheets to manage Cushion’s expenses page as well as track my business expenses. After suffering through accounting software since I started freelancing, I pulled the plug and replaced it with spreadsheets. With a small amount of extra work, I have everything in a flexible format that doesn’t cost a dime. (I would gladly pay for a human-friendly service that focuses on ease and exportability.)
Continue existing routines
Instead of continuing my gym routine, I actually cancelled my membership and I haven’t been back since. I would’ve continued going if it weren’t for the gym’s outrageous (though not surprising) fees for pausing a membership. I did sign up for an indoor basketball league that starts in January, so hopefully that will get me back into a healthy routine.
One week between client gigs
I’m happy to share that I’ve gone a step further than one week between client gigs. Because of my focus on Cushion, I’ve been fortunate enough to take between 1-3 months off between clients this past year. Early in the year, I worked with Project Florida on the Sum website (RIP). Over the summer, I reuinted with Oak Studios to help with Siteleaf 2.0. And in November, I collaborated with Casper on their fancy new homepage. I don’t think I’ll be as lucky in 2016, but maybe I can get Cushion to a point where I don’t need clients—who knows with freelancing.
Book a few speaking gigs
I didn’t speak at a conference in 2015, but I did book a speaking gig at Create Upstate in May. I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned from bootstrapping Cushion and balancing freelance work while running an app. I hope to book a few more talks throughout the year, so if you know a conference that would be a good fit, let me know!
Take more photos
I beat myself up over not taking as many photos as I once did—especially after digging through old hard drives and finding that even the “bad” photos are incredibly valuable to me years later. Going forward, I need to capture my life on a daily basis. Even if I never post the photos anywhere, I will make it a necessity to record at least one “experience” each day. I know I’ll regret it if I don’t.
Read more books
Again, I didn’t read as many books as I anticipated I would, but I did finish The Martian in 9 hours—a personal record! (6 of those hours were on a flight and I simply couldn’t put the book down after that.) For 2016, I think I’ll have more success by establishing a reading schedule. Instead of picking a book and reading it whenever I remember to, I need to designate time throughout the week to slow down and bury my head in a good book. I’m starting Ready Player One right now, so if anyone has a suggestion for the next few, I’d love to hear.
Play more video games
In 2015, I played plenty of video games. It’s easy when your wife plays more than you. After breezing through the remastered Grand Theft Auto V, Arkham Knight, and quitting The Last of Us out of pure fear, I’m now deep into Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Star Wars Battlefront. I don’t know what to tackle once I’m done with those two, but I love free roaming games.
Ride my bike
It pains me to say that I only rode my bike a few times in 2015. I still have it, so there’s always hope for 2016, but now that my studio is a short, relaxing walk away from our apartment, I can’t imagine I’ll start anytime soon. I should really plan day trips to areas of Brooklyn I’ve never been and ride there. I know of dozens of coffee shops I still need to visit, so maybe that should be my driving force.
Take a trip outside of Brooklyn every 3 months
I‘m proud to say that we traveled a fair amount this past year. We weren’t one of those couples who is constantly instagramming exotic locations around the world, but we at least got out of the city every three months—traveling to Upstate New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Portland, and West Virginia. After reaching that goal, I realized that traveling every three months isn’t enough. For 2016, the new goal is to take four big trips with a few shorter trips in between. So far, we already have Joshua Tree and Palm Springs booked for February along with a week in Austin for July. And, I can guarantee that we’ll return to Portland again in the fall.
Looking ahead, I plan to focus on quality of life. This doesn’t only mean experiencing more, but also taking care of myself. I need to slow down, work less, and reduce unnecessary stresses in my life.
Embrace the freelance schedule
Jen and I practically live at the studio with how much we work, so I want to battle that with a more flexible schedule. Instead of racing to the studio in the morning and zombie-walking home at night, I’d like to start a couple days a week without an agenda. Since we also tend to work the weekend, I want to start treating Wednesday like a mid-week weekend. Hopefully, that will break the week up better and help prevent those stretches when we forget to take time off. We really need to take advantage of the most appealing aspect of freelance—not having a schedule.
Contribute to open source
I know this entails more work, which is against my theme for 2016, but I feel the need to give back to the coding community. I try to write about my process and experiences as much as I can, but I haven’t really shared much code over the years. After years of coding in private, I miss having code out in the public for the world to reference and utilize. I’d be happy with even contributing the occasional one-line pull request.
Spend time in the kitchen
For those who don’t live in a tiny apartment or rely on Seamless for dinner, you might have a difficult time grasping the fact that we don’t use our kitchen. Now that we have a new floor and more space, I really want to spend more time in our “closet with a stove”. I’m not much of a cook, but I know I can follow a recipe. Even if this only results in cooking dinner once a week, I’d feel accomplished.
Establish a better backup system
For how cautious I am in real life, most people would be shocked to know that I don’t backup much of my data. All of my code is on Github and all of my other work is on Dropbox, but everything else is on a few hard drives that aren’t backed up anywhere. The plan for 2016 is to have a local RAID 0 hard drive system for working files in combination with Backblaze backing up everything to the cloud. I know Murphy’s Law can come into full effect at any moment with drive failures, so I need to make this priority one.
Write 2016’s recap before New Year’s Eve
Lastly, I want to write next year’s post with plenty of time to spare before the New Year. Here’s to 2016!