Needless to say, this year has been peculiar. However, despite all the bad stuff, there’s been a few good things happening to me so I thought a review was in order.
Well, the main event of 2020 for us is we bought a flat. Getting keys was meant to happen in the summer but it has been postponed due to COVID-19, but we still managed within the year: we got them on the 10th of December. We’re currently in the process of furnishing and decorating it, it all feels like a big deal - it’s the first property we own, and the first mortgage we sign! I spoke a bit about the process in this post.
In regards to furnishing, the funny thing that happened about this is that when we first started the purchase (a year ago now) we hadn’t planned to turn the second bedroom into an office. It was supposed, in the original plan, to stay as a spare bedroom, with a sofa bed and one single desk for whomever of us was staying home to work for the day - we hadn’t forecasted that both of us would work from home (more on this later)! That room is getting now planned with no sofa, two desks and all the paraphernalia to make for a comfortable home office.
I confess at the moment I’m slightly obsessed with home decor and Mariekondo-ing everything in my new flat. Organising things (physical and virtual) is one of the greatest joys for me, it had been years I’ve been dreaming of having a place to shape.
Work & Career
It’s been a very busy year at work, and personally full of novelties and projects. We started a few new things, it’s been hard but extremely rewarding. My team has enlarged and I’ve started doing more management than before, a direction I was keen to grow more into. I’m working on improving my managerial skills, both in terms of strategical thinking for the business and of the people-leading side, to be a fair and helpful mentor. It’s been going pretty well I think and it’s an area that fascinates me.
I want to keep doing data science and invest time on the technical side of it, learning continuously, but I see myself switching more and more of my focus on managing projects and teams. One thing I need to get better at is running meaningful and impactful 1:1s, another one is delegating well - these are areas to work on next year.
Reading & watching
I read more books than last year, which is not surprising and I’m sure it has happened to many people. I read a fair amount about equality, feminism and human rights, a topic which I always wanted to invest more time studying. In fact, I’ve also created a list of my recommendations on this on Bookshop, so far containing my 4 best picks. This year has seen a raise in awareness on these topics, which is part of a general process of human progress, which, if you read Pinker, you know it’s unstoppable. Much still to do though. One question that remains open to me is how the patriarchy started in human societies. Inferior draws the history of how women ended up being considered a lesser sex, but I need to read more, especially on the anthropological research.
Watching-wise, it’s been a year of series, especially Netflix ones. I wrote here about a few series I enjoyed a lot. The topic of equality and rights has been high on my watching too, as it can be seen on my lists of screen picks. I’ve also been watching a fair amount of naturalistic documentaries, always in my heart.
Fitness & mental health
My mental health can be quite flimsy, and I was convinced lockdown would have only brought pain. Instead, I think I’ve actually been pretty well this year. Not seeing friends, family, colleagues has certainly been bad, same for not going out and all the rest, but I’ve accidentally found a bit of a better dimension for who I am. Working from home meant both having more “me time” and to be able to reflect on things more. It’s probably a cliché of this 2020, but I’ve got a clearer idea of what matters and what doesn’t, what I really want to do, and what is just a drain of energy. When to invest in people and when not to spend time. Being in this weird indoor situation forced my mind to dissolve the mist to see better.
In terms of physical fitness, things aren’t that good. I’m still in a decent shape as I’ve kept a rigid routine of home-exercise (for as much as I could, given I’ve been in an old flat with the constant worry to disturb neighbours) + some running, but I’m nowhere I was before COVID-19. I plan to take some calisthenics and go back to run a bit more seriously in 2021. On the bright side, I’ve also been doing some yoga and discovered how much I need to work on flexibility, so I’ll keep up with it.
Projects, present and future
These are notes on data science I wrote throughout the years (and are largely still contributing to) as an open-ended book. It used to sit in a bunch of Jupyter notebooks which I’ve finally transformed into a GitBook this year, much better. It’s a collection so I’m happy to keep it as a free resource for everyone.
I’ve been producing hand-drawn datavizs for a bit, and this year I thought of opening an account for it. I doodle data on little cards, and also draw a variety of other things - not because I want to get good at drawing (even though it wouldn’t hurt), but for fun and to learn stuff (I learn a lot in the process of investigating a question). I’m particularly proud of a few of the cards, the ones I invested more effort into like those on climate change, and I’m thinking if this could become something more serious, like a publication. We’ll see what 2021 brings.
In the process, I’ve been studying data visualisation and presentation, and data journalism, investing some time in learning about good design practices, the area of data which I lacked, coming from the tech side of it. It’s something I will keep doing.
A new idea started to brew in my head: writing about about how to enter data science and what it means to work in the field, aimed specifically at young people interested in pursuing this career. I’ve been doing a fair amount of informal coaching, advice-giving, and I’ve spoken at a few events as well as roundtables on this and I think it’s time I formalise it a bit more. It will be a good project for me to do and it may reach more people, as I feel like I have something to say.
I’ve started gathering advice on publishing and writing books and joined the TechWriters community, which is being a wealth of resources, good chats & loads of learning. So this book is a goal for next year.
Apart from this, I also want to write some more on my blog here. I’ve tried to be more disciplined about it lately, and I think it’s working - ideas start to flow better from the brain to the keyboard - something I struggled a bit with in the past.
That’s all I think. I’m sure I will have forgotten to mention some things, it’s been a pretty busy year in terms of thinking and planning. Here’s to a 2021 of putting more ideas into practice.