Lake view with aurora in the background.

My 2020 in Review

Author’s notice

I have not been actively publishing new content in my blog for a longer time now, due to trouble with my blog setup, failing to rewrite the blog from scratch, and on top of that, you know, just 2020 being 2020.

Now, that I finally have my blog setup working again and as I’m trying to ramp up my content production, I thought it would be interesting to write about how the past year has been for me and how the year 2021 is looking like at this point of time. As this is a more personal blog post, I thought it would be nice to add some pictures as well. Enjoy!


2020 Was a Historical Year

2020 was a weird year in many ways. I’m quite sure, the last year was a weird year for everyone. And we all know about the pandemic and other unexpected things that happened, so I will not be talking about those. In stead I will try to focus on other stuff, but the pandemic has had an impact on almost everything.

Work

2020 was a busy year for me at work. We had just finished a longer site renewal project in March 2020 and launched it to production, when the whole pandemic situation started massively hitting Finland, as well. And in addition to that, we had an even larger project starting up due to an acquisition that came to us as a bit of a surprise. I ended up working too much in 2020 and did not have too much time for stuff like open source and personal projects.

Working From Home or Anywhere

I have been working fully remotely since the beginning of March 2020. Working from home feels pretty good to me as I live a bit further away from the office. Now, that I don’t need to commute to work every day, I save almost 2 hours every day. On the other hand, working from home seems to easily lead into working more than I should. Starting the workday earlier than normally is easy without having to commute to work. Ending the workday is more difficult at home than leaving the office after a day at work. I used to work remotely every once in a while earlier as well, but working full time remotely is quite different.

Me on my laptop in front of a fireplace

Events in 2020

Events have turned into online events, and in the beginning they felt interesting and fun. Now, there seems to be a lack of interest in online events due to the lack of social interaction, which happens in physical events when you bump into random people and start discussing about various interesting topics. Despite all the events being held online, I have still managed to present quite many times in our weekly tech event called Tech Weeklies. You can learn more about Tech Weeklies from this blog post in The Futurice blog. Naturally, not all of my talks are public due to non-public content, but you can see links to the recordings in YouTube of some of my talks in the talks page.

Learning by Presenting

Presenting is interesting as it forces you to learn more about the topic you are going to present about. Even if you think you know something, only if you are able to explain it to others, you actually know it. In many cases, I have had to look into the basics again, in order to be able to talk about that topic. Presenting is fun and I recommend you to try it out if you haven’t. Please note though, that the first time presenting might not be super pleasant as you get nervous about it. It will get easier over time and through practice. After a few presentations, you can start concentrating on the audience and not only on what you were supposed to say next. I personally find presenting in person easier than presenting remotely. When presenting in a virtual event, you don’t see your audience and you get no feedback from them during your presentation.

My 3 screen home office setup

Side Business

In September 2019, I founded a company called Iltametsuri Oy. The company is my side business and a hobby for cutting down trees on my free time. During 2020, I did about 30 smaller or larger gigs, which is surprisingly good in my opinion. This job acts as an interesting balance for the (home) office work where I stare at screens all day long. Getting outside and doing something physical gives me a lot of energy and motivation.

Me on a snowmobile pulling a sled full of logs

Most of the company’s gigs so far have been for friends and colleagues, but increasingly I get new contacts due to my online precense and a Google ad I’m paying for. My initial ad budget was 3€/day but I recently increased it to a whopping 6€/day. During the first fiscal year, all of the revenue (and a bit more) has been invested on buying the best available tools, some of which you can see in the image below.

Me posing and leaning to my chainsaw after felling a large tree

Vacation

On the other hand, 2020 was a nice year. Despite busy and stressful times at work, I was able to have more than 8 weeks of vacation last year! Not all of it was paid vacation, some weeks were balance leave, but still. And when I say vacation, I mean vacation as you can see from the below screenshot of my GitHub contributions. By the way, almost all of my contributions last year were on work projects. I did not do much open source work in 2020. Last summer I enjoyed the Finnish nature more ever before.

Contribution chart for olpeh on GitHub

My hand holding a long drink in, with a person jumping into water in the background and a beautiful sunset.

A river in sunset.

Vacation Routines

My routine for starting a vacation includes closing Slack and work email on my laptop, trying to avoid using my laptop at all, and deleting Slack and work accounts from my mobile phone completely. The only way my supervisor or colleagues could reach me on my vacation would be by calling me, but who even makes normal calls nowadays? Not even once have I been interrupted on my vacation due to work.

View from Saana fell.

2021

The year 2021 is off to a promising start. We have interesting new challenges at work, I started the year actively by doing a lot more cross country skiing than I normally would do since we finally have proper winter with lots of snow even in southern Finland, and on top of all that, I have more time and energy for writing blog posts.

Selfie after skiing. Lot of snow on my beard.

My Goal for 2021

My goal for 2021 is to start producing more content, including more tutorial videos. At least with the blogging, I’m already on a quite nice track. As several people have said, consistency is the key. So, my goal is to start consistently producing interesting content in the form of blog posts, presentations and videos.

Who knows, if in 2021 we could again have physical events such as conferences and meetups face to face. That remains to be seen, but let’s hope for the best. Stay tuned for more content in my blog this year! You can also send me wishes on topics that you would like me to write about.