2020 year in review

2020 is the year none would forget. It was supposed to be a good year with a beautiful number. But what happened was terrible. Today is the time to reflect on the past year.

Usually, I will go back to Vietnam three or four times a year to visit my family, friends or just to enjoy some good food. But it has been almost a year we haven’t gone back. And I’m afraid that we would celebrate this lunar new year far from home.

But it’s fine, I have more time for myself. Today is the first day of 2021. I want to sit down, take a deep breath, and reflect on the past year, 2020.

Work from home

It’s has been 9 months since I started to work from home. At first, I didn’t think it will be easy, and I still love to go to the office. But after 9 months, I don’t want to go to the office anymore.

When working from home, I have my old space so I can focus more on work. The time is also very flexible. Some day, I can get up early and go straight to the desk to work. Somedays, I wake up late and start working at 11 am. It’s very flexible, productivity is also higher.

But the best thing about working from home is that I can save two hours a day on commuting. My house is very far from the office. Saving two hours a day is a lot. I have more time to do personal things or hobbies.

Now, I can’t imagine that I can work from the office. The covid changed our behaviors.

Many side projects.

2020 is the year of side projects. When saving 2hour a day on commuting, I have time to do meaningful things.

Last year, I first created Awesome Figma Tips on Mars. It’s my collection of useful tips to fasten Figma workflow. Figma community found it very useful. I get much gratitude from strangers. That’s the happiness of a maker. I put all of them into this Good shit board so I can come back to read and boost my mood up.

Next, I published Pafolios. I bookmarked inspiring portfolios and good case studies in design and put them here. A place where I can look at when updating my portfolios.

If you take a look at two websites, you will see some common things in design or structure. The reason is that I used the same template then adjust some details to make it better for each use case. The original template is Novela, building with Gatsby. But I customized many things and add many details. Then with any idea I have, I can build a website easily and fast.

Design tips in a visual way

If you take a look at my Instagram, you will see many design tips. I got inspired by Chris Do. His design lessons are incredible, but the way he shares them surprised me, by the Instagram carousel.

I never think Instagram is a way to share design tips. But I realize that if we make the post visually, Instagram is the best place. That idea catches me.

Then I learned how to share design tips in IG carousel. In the beginning, I have a huge goal, that I will get 5k followers after 3 months. But of course, I failed. All I get is 400 followers.

But when I look back all of my posts on Instgram, I’m proud of myself. I didn’t reach the goal, but I got good side effects. My design colleagues started to talk about my design tips, they call me an influencer. They all loved them and felt inspired. They started to ask me “Why why why you do it!”. My boss also started to pay attention to me, he just realized that he has an awesome designer on the team(?)

I stopped posting it because it took me lots of time and effort. But the benefit of it is huge. So maybe this new year, I would begin again.

35 posts

Last year, I wrote 35 posts in total. That’s the biggest number of posts in a year ever.

I don’t know who will find my post useful. I only know one of my posts was featured in Weekly Design Newsletter. But it’s not my main purpose in writing.

“I write to think and design better”

35 posts in a year is a great number to celebrate.

The effect of share and write more

I got promoted.

Career promotion is something strange to me. I’ve never cared about it when working in Vietnam. Because the two companies I worked for are small, and they don’t have a promotion program. All they have is a raise when starting a new contract every year.

When joining a big company like Carousell, promotion is the thing we all want. To get a bigger raise, and to get recognition from colleagues about our competence.

When first joined Carousell, I was too nervous. I felt like an imposter. It took me almost one year to get confident. After one year and a half, I got the first recognition, a promotion with a raise.

Of course, money is important to stay well in an expensive country. But the brightest side is it boosts my confidence. Now I feel that I have the ability to work for any company.


Have you heard about it?

I heard about it from my wife. I didn’t believe it at first. But after watching many videos and real examples and proofs, now I’m a numerology believer.

You can google it to know more. But in a nutshell, your date of birth and your name tells a lot about your personality, your life, your success, and failure. And the most important is how you should act to make a better life.

My number says that I’m a very creative person with good intuition. My missing number in the numerology matrix is 5. So I need to find a way to add a “5” into my matrix. I can do that by sharing and talking more.

Surprisingly, I talked and shared a lot this year. Even before the time I knew about this numerology. I shared design tips on Instagram, I wrote many articles, I shared with the design team very often, I talked more during the team meeting,… Then I became a lot more confident. I also got promoted.

Believe me or not, you should try it by yourself.

My first “public” talk

I put “public” because it’s not really public. It’s an internal TeckTalk event in Carousell, but there are almost 100 people, and many of them I’ve never met.

It’s the final TeckTalk event of 2020. I did it together with another designer. It’s the first time a non-engineer speaker shares in this event. We talked about animations in Carousell and their benefits. We took that chance to inspire Product Managers and Engineers to put more effort into animation, which is deprioritized in Carousell. (I summarized the presentation into this post if you’re curious.)

Presenting in front of many people is scary, but this time I had to do it in English, it’s even more pressure. But with practice and advice from other designers during a dry run, we made it. The reaction from the audience is awesome. It makes use feel we’re the best speakers of the event (Just kidding hehe)

This could be a small win. It’s one of the small steps to leap.

Produce “MV”

What is MV, you might ask?

Yeah, it’s not something in design. It’s music videos. You might be surprised, but yeah, my wife and I produced several MVs this year.

Living abroad with few friends and no place to go, what could we do during the covid situation?

One day, when listening to a song from a Vietnamese band, the chorus comes and hooks us. We can’t stop singing along. We made our room become a music stage. Then my wife said that “Let’s record it!”, “Yeah, why not!” I replied.

Then we used the laptop camera to record the song directly. The taking some more minutes to adjust the video and posted it to Facebook.

The reactions of our friends are unbelievable. Many people liked and commented on our post. We felt so happy and decided to mare more videos.

Our voice isn’t very good, but we found an activity to do together during the pandemic. It sparks joy and enriches our souls. There’s no reason to stop.

That’s a wrap for the past year! Let’s hang out more this year!