2019 Review: On adulting and smelling the flowers

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It feels a lot like 2019 happened to me, like I didn’t have a lot of say in it. It took me a while to figure out why it felt so busy and so ordinary, even though so many amazing things happened.

I finally figured it out as I rushed out of the house one morning. You see, I went back to work Nov 2018 and 2019 was a full year of balancing full time work, being a parent and regular adulting. 

 It was a good year, I just didn’t stop to smell the flowers and that needs to change. 

Here’s a recap

A place to call home

We bought a house! Yup, a terraced 2/3 bed in South London. We planned to start looking for a place in 2019 but we found this new build in the area we wanted in 2018 and decided that it’s the one. It’s the perfect house, in the perfect location for us. It’s still an hour commute from work but in the grand scheme of London living, that’s fine. 

We moved in at the end of March and we love it. I made a half ass attempt to decorate and I’ll describe the current state as minimum viable. Our budget agrees with that assessment pending iterations based on very clear needs. 

On settling back into work 

Even though I went back to work in Nov 2018, it was January 2019 that I really started settling in my new team and feeling like I understand the context of the new product enough to own it. Since then, I’ve worked with the team to launch Content Publisher in Private beta with 14 departments, built and iterated a lot of features to meet user needs, Improved the publishing tool for step by steps so they can be built at scale, created the roadmap for publishing for GOV.UK. 

I have also developed interest in teaching product management to people who are interested and I’ve co-facilitated several ‘introduction to Product management courses’

Work has been fairly busy and somewhat chaotic due to that which must not be named. If you know, you know. 

I was not able to attend a lot of product management event outside the ones organised at work but I attended ‘Mind the Product’ conference this year and learnt a lot. I hope to make time to attend more professional events in 2020. 

Parenting in the 2nd year

Laolu turned 1 in January, we had a small celebration with a few friends at home. Since then, he has grown in leaps and bounds. The difference between a 1 year old and an almost 2 year old is so huge, it’s like magic. Last year, he was a chubby babbling baby, who could barely stand on his own. Now, he’s a walking, talking, singing, tantrum throwing delightful little man who knows exactly what he wants or doesn’t want. 

Parenting is rewarding work but it is hard work. I’ve found Parenting a toddler, working full time, taking care of myself and keeping my home organised leaves little time for much else. I often feel overwhelmed…sometimes with gratitude for the opportunity, sometimes… just plain overwhelmed. As a result, I’m constantly looking for ways to optimise my life and environment to be simpler and effective. 

Tuning out of social media

How can I say I’m overwhelmed though when I spend a fair chunk of the free time I have on social media? Just by looking through my social media accounts, it doesn’t seem like I spend a lot of time on social media but I’m a lurker, every time I have free 30 seconds, I’m always lurking somewhere on twitter and/or instagram. 

In August, I decided to do an experiment, how will my life be different if I was not on social media for a month? Well, this is what happened:

  • I read a little more and actually focused on some tasks that I procrastinated on for a while
  • Not a lot of people noticed I wasn’t on social media. In fact, only a few people remember birthdays without social media
  • Not sharing of social media did not diminish the quality of my experiences and my feeling of missing out died quite quickly. 
  • Sometimes I was too tired to actually do something productive, in those times social media was replaced with Netflix/YouTube or sleep.
  • When I came back, I did not feel like I missed much

It was a net positive experience. During that time I also read deep work which offered a lot of strategies on focusing in a distracted world. It helped me objectively identify if each platform was useful to me and decide how to use them. I strive to follow those strategies. Sometimes I fail. 

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It’s been a good year overall and I’ve been mostly happy. Tolu was on the forbes 30 under 30 list for technology in Europe and he also turned 30 this year. We celebrated with a surprise trip to Instanbul. Tolu is amazing as usual and I’m lucky to be sharing my life with him. 

We travelled 5 times, we went to Nigeria twice for Segun’s introduction and wedding (Laolu got malaria and Chicken pox which was tough), then we went to Greece, Turkey and Paris. We also went to 8 cities in the UK. 

We visited and were visited by lots of friends and family. It seems like such a small thing but is amazing when you live in different countries.

I got my finances in order, like I do my budget and accounts at the right time. That’s Growth. 

I can swim confidently, using different styles. When I’m feeling brave, I even venture to the deep end.

I read 6 books 

  • Dear Ijeawele- a feminist manifesto 
  • Sorry I’m late, I didn’t want to come
  • Deep work
  • Reinventing product roadmaps
  • It doesn’t have to be crazy at work
  • Essentialism: The disciplined pursuit of less

I started but did not finish

  • The organised mind
  • Sapiens

I will be spending Christmas with my sister and her family and I am looking forward to that. 

In 2020, I solemnly swear to smell the flowers. So help me God. 

Tobi