January 05, 2019
I’ve always wanted to do an ‘year in review’ kinda post to help me reflect upon the year passed and see how it has affected me. At least it gives me a moment to appreciate all the good that has happened in the past year, and hopefully learn from the mistakes I’ve made.
At the end of 2017, I joined MedleyMed 1, an e-commerce company as a full-stack product engineer. It has been a great learning curve, given that it is my first real job and that I had to learn Python and Django, the stack the product is based on, from scratch.
I immediately fell in love with Python — it is a well designed, easy to understand language that is so flexible that a noob developer such as myself can start building apps in no time, and yet powerful enough to be used to solve complex scientific problems. Django felt quirky in the beginning but as I started using it, I realised how mature and fully featured the framework and its ecosystem is. Apart from these two, I also dipped my toes into PostgreSQL 🤞, wrangled with Git 💪, wept over Vim 😫, made peace with Linux 😇, and mastered VSCode 🤓.
Of course, writing code is only a part of my job. I also had to sit through countless meetings, discussions and demos. I learned how important it is to plan out your work and strategy before writing even a single line of code. I’ve missed a good number of deadlines thanks to my poor planning. Although some of it can be attributed to my sub-par debugging and backtracking skills.2 It is something I want to fix in 2019.
My coworkers have been super supportive and helpful throughout and the structure of our team is such that often times we solve problems in collaborative, not-quite-pair-programming kinda ways. I also got to mentor a new member of the team for a few weeks. It was super fun, although I feel like I could’ve been more helpful and approachable to my mentee.3
I took a bunch of bite-sized vacations this year, and it was super fun to break away from work for a few days at a time and return energized. I Collected a ton of happy little memories from all the places — A road trip to Bangalore, a weekend getaway to Pondicherry, a weeklong trip to Delhi, and a day trip to Gulbarga. I realised that I’d been missing out on the fun of travelling and I will make an effort to travel more this year.
Speaking of efforts, I really made an effort to be in touch with my close friends and spend time hanging out with them. I’m only now beginning to understand the value of deep, meaningful friendships and the effort it takes to foster them. My friends still think I’m not trying hard enough so this year it is going to be a quite a challenge 😅.
Another effort I made(am making) is to form habits. One of my overarching goals is to be fluent in German by next year. So I’m making it a habit to practice the language for 20 minutes everyday before bed. Similarly, I’m strictly following the Pomodoro technique at work since the past few weeks. I don’t know what it is about the Human mind and incentive based stimuli, but it has worked wonders for my productivity.4 Also, in October last year, I started learning touch typing on a whim. In about 3 months, now my typing speed is ~60 WPM. I’m proud of myself for that and I’m more amazed by how quickly our muscles can learn, unlearn, and relearn.
It has not been all sunshine and rainbows for me though. I gained weight and I haven’t exercised in more than a year, except for the occasional cycle rides. That is something I look to improve in 2019.
Although I didn’t plan on it, I ended up reading a ton of books in the past year. Thanks to my hour long commute, I have almost a couple of hours every day to pass time. I spend most of that time on my Kindle. I’ll probably write another blog post to share what I read.
In the last week of December I finally got around to finishing the React Course I purchased in 2017 (😲, yes I know) and I think it finally clicked for me. Just three years later, no biggie 😅. I’ve since been obsessively learing everything I can about React. In fact, I brought this blog back to life just so I could learn Gatsby and remake my blog. So I’m seriously going to use React at work and elsewhere because it is so good!
More books! I can’t read enough books.5
Deliberate choices about time spent in activites, in terms of risk, reward and strength
Audit relationships regularly, discuss long-term priorities, issues etc.
Ship more stuff, even if it is just MVPs. “Better done than perfect”.
Understand how the world works6
Making lots of lists 7
Unlearn and Relearn Math (A man can dream…)
The product I work on is https://biz.medleymed.com. It aims to solve really complex logistical and supply-chain problems in the B2B pharmaceutical industry.↩
I legit spent multiple hours on stupid bugs more times than I’d like to admit↩
I’m still not sure how I feel about this.. I tried to strike a balance between hands off and spoon feeding, just letting them figure stuff out from clues and pointers. But I do feel guilty idk.↩
Highly recommend this fun little app if you’re interested in a Pomodoro app: https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/bft-bear-focus-timer/id1328806990↩
Personal blog by Arjun Munji.
I like to learn things.