Everyone around the world will agree that 2020 was a unique year in many aspects. We all have faced different challenges this year which taught us unique lessons. As a freelancer & a mom, my lessons are very specific.

Lessons Learned

The biggest lesson of 2020 has been to value myself more. I do so much in my life, but have never learned to talk about it in a nice way or to value it as important. I always pushed it away saying it was nothing and I was just doing my job. Whether it is teaching my kids something important, or making sure they have our emotional support or dealing with a client or working on my plugins, I have realized that I do not stop to think about all the effort I put into these things.

A month into shelter in place I realized how well I was able to manage my time and my kids’ schedules. I helped my kids get into a routine with their distance learning along with working more time than before.

If I am going to change one thing in the coming year, it will be this. I am going to make a note of all the things I do for myself, my family and my business and I am going to remember them. It might be that every mom or freelancer or entrepreneur is also doing the same thing as me. But, it still does not make what I do any less. I need to remember this big time.

The second lesson I learned is to write. Writing everyday has changed my mind so much. I always had anxiety and in the past few years, it has become an issue. There are many ways to deal with it, but writing has been the best for me. I wish I had done it all through the year. I started writing regularly in about November and the difference in two months is huge. Sometimes it is coherent writing and sometimes it is a brain dump sort of writing. This has helped me clear my mind. This is something I will be definitely keeping up in the new year.

My Work

Last year, even with all its challenges was a huge year for me in terms of my growth. I didn’t have many clients this year, but I did work on the Chamber Dashboard plugins and checked off a lot of tasks and projects. I learned to write Gutenberg blocks and converted most of the shortcodes in the plugins to blocks. We still have a few to go which will be completed in 2021. I also wrote a Gutenberg ready theme for Chamber Dashboard plugins which will be released to the WP repo in Jan or Feb this year. It is a minimal theme with a few basic page templates.

WP Category Dropdown plugin grew up to 600+ active installations this year. A couple of years ago, a client with a travel blog wanted to a similar functionality for her blog. She categorized her posts with country and city and wanted to show the cities in a dropdown when the country was selected. I couldn’t find a plugin to do this and wrote some custom code which I later released as a plugin. I have a few user requested features in my to-do list for the plugin this year.

Contributing to WordPress

I was part of the WP 5.6 release squad. This is huge. I don’t feel like I did enough to get credit for this, but I did help in some little ways. I would have loved to do more. I learned so much from the entire process. There is so much co-ordination between time zones, so much respect for fellow squad members and so much opportunity for growth. I am so glad to have had the opportunity to be a part of this team.

I also contributed to the end user WordPress docs. This year, I am planning to contribute to the developer docs as well.

Learning

As usual, I did spend a lot of time learning new things this year. Starting with building Gutenberg blocks, I spent time exploring ways to make my work faster and better.

The best thing I did was to setup a proper testing and development localhost environment. I have been using XAMPP for a long time, but I finally setup VS code editor with the localhost and my development has become so much easier and faster. I also setup Docker for my local WordPress testing and it is so nice to be finally able to test my plugins & themes using Docker.

Hope is what makes the world keep going even during the worst global pandemic. Here is hoping that we will get to go out and meet friends & family and I would love to attend a WordCamp or two this year. 

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