Well 2011 was a pretty manic year. Last January I couldn’t have foreseen that in twelve months time I would be working for myself and living in Somerset. So what for the next twelve months? Where do I want to be in twelve months time and what do I want to be doing?
Here are some hastily-assembled thoughts on what I want to achieve in 2012:
Learn new things
2011 has seen me continually review my work process. I’ve now switched exclusively to building sites in HTML 5, created my first few sites using responsive web design and refined my approach to using CSS.
There are two things I really want to get my teeth into to improve my workflow in 2012: SASS to focus on writing leaner, more efficient CSS and embracing GIT as a more systematic way of versioning my work (than shoving templates into Dropbox). I will try to tackle GIT later in the year but plan to start 2012 flying with the handy guide, Pragmatic Guide to Sass.
More focussed work
Since going freelance earlier this year I’ve taken on a wide and varied range of work. Needs must and in the pursuit of daily bread I’ve done ExpressionEngine and Perch builds, front-end development, interface design and good old-fashioned website design.
It has been great to have had a steady stream of work but I have overloaded myself and doing a wide range of different work has regularly required jumping in and out of different skill sets.
I’ve also found that doing a lot of smaller jobs has invariably proven unprofitable, particularly when offering clients ‘a package’ of work.
In 2012 I want to focus on doing fewer larger jobs and carrying out more targetted design work, specifically interface design and front-end development. With back-end development and CMS-wrangling it has been great understanding how CMS’s work and being able to build complex sites has brought me some great jobs and experience in 2011. However it has not been work I’ve massively enjoyed and there has often been a steep learning curve with every new job. Foremost my passion and skills are in HTML, CSS and jQuery and that is where I want to focus my attentions in 2012.
Hopefully in 2012 I can look to focus on my strengths (and avoiding my weaknesses), particularly if I can team up with other freelancers to collaborate with on larger, more profitable projects.
To be honest I really struggle with email. I spend too much time sending, receiving and digesting emails and this takes up a disproportionate amount of my time. I have also spent 2011 wrestling with pretty much every To-Do list available, to little avail.
Managing my own time and projects has been something that I have honestly struggled with through 2011 and having started to read David Allen’s Getting Things Done I definitely want to focus more time in 2012 on a ruthless methodology for managing email and project work.
Conquer some Demons
Going solo in 2011 has been really rewarding but working long periods in isolation and taking on too much work has left me feeling out of control at times and some old demons have resurfaced that I need to tackle. Being online is great and with most project comunication via email and tools like Basecamp it has been far too easy to have very little face or voice time with a client.
The result has been little confidence in speaking with clients directly and I really need to work on this before I retreat into an electronic bubble altogether.
I also need to try and focus more on my own work rather than contantly comparing my work to others. As Colly said earlier this year ‘are you in your work?’
Take a holiday
Finally the one thing I want in 2012 above all else is to have a holiday with my family. We’ve not had a family holiday together since before Felix was born, and what else is it all for if not to enjoy time with those we love.
It’s been a funny old year but think it’s a year that will only help make us freelancers stronger.
Hopefully 2012 will be a rewarding and profitable year and should you ever need a freelancing hand, feel free to shout.
All the best for 2012 fella, this party is just getting started.
Excellent post Cole and good luck in the new year. 2012 will be a huge game changer for me. Most of it based on the great advice you gave me at WDC. More on that soon. We’ll have to make some time in early Jan to meet up for a beer in Frome, while I’m still working in the area.