In 2018: I Took Back My Time

Wall clock reads 5:51.
Photo by Buenosia Carol on

2018 was my year to drop time wasters and get serious about my time. My priority is my family (husband and son), but I also care deeply about a fulfilling career (web development and accessibility). Those two things don’t leave me with much time when I want them both to flourish. So, I decided to commit myself to deep work with some room left for hobbies.

Cutting back on social media

Part of getting serious meant dropping usual distraction suspects, starting with Facebook. On June 22, 2018, I deleted my Facebook account and haven’t looked back since.

A week later, I deleted the Twitter app from my phone. LinkedIn and Goodreads apps had already been removed a year ago. At that time I’d also reined in phone notifications to only important messages and calls.

Replacing dead reading time with valuable reading

That reasoning of deleting social networks was not only inspired by Cal Newport’s Deep Work, but also by the logic that I could easily fill those random moments with a book rather than valueless posts. I took up a mixture of audiobooks and e-books to champion that lofty goal. As a result I surpassed my Goodreads goal of 30 books. I actually read 95 books! (Note: a quarter of that number was books that I read to my son and wanted to remember later on.)

So, instead of reading the microposts my friends, family, and groups posted, I filled that time with autobiographies, classic literature, and web dev books. To place more value on my time, I never stayed to long with a book that didn’t thoroughly engage me.

Learning and building with code

Reading wasn’t the only thing I spent my “free” time doing. In 2018, I’d made a point to get better at JavaScript. Or at least gain more confidence inside that language. By the end of the year, I successfully gained experience and confidence in coding with vanilla JavaScript. Several things happened that got me there:

  • Earned the Mobile Web Specialist nanodegree from Udacity, which forced me to build a web app that used an API to pull restaurant and location information, coupled with a form for user reviews
    MWS Certificate of Completion on November 12, 2018.
  • Worked on a side hustle web app that stretched my knowledge of Zurb’s Foundation framework, Ruby on Rails, UI design, and web accessibility
  • Earned FreeCodeCamp’s JavaScript Algorithms and Data Structures certificate
    FCC JavaScript certificate.
  • All the while, still able to make a total of 602 contributions on Github (a mixture of open source and personal projects)
    Github contribution chart: 602 in 2018.

The year of the web a11y

Alongside my aspirations to program with JavaScript, I didn’t want to abandon the interest I had in UX. The prior year I had already started my journey of learning about web accessibility, but I desired to deepen that shallow know-how. Through my full-time job, I was able to nurture that desire with the support of the people above and around me. The working group that I formed on a statewide level continued to meet. I created workshops and training materials to help my co-workers make more accessible documents. Additionally, I was able to create a few webinar presentations to reach designers and developers on a wider level.

This was the year I decided that accessibility is going to be a key component in my web design and development career. It matters to me, and I want it to matter to other people without being an extra burden.

Do I feel validated yet?

My ultimate goal last year was to see if I could do a lot of things despite the time constraints I felt as a mom, wife, and breadwinner. This past year showed me that, yes, I could make time for myself and for the things I wanted to work on. I could also make advancements in those in-between spaces of home life and work life. I didn’t get a new job (that wasn’t my intent), but I did get the confidence boost I needed to pull me out of imposter syndrome and the code newbie feeling. Additionally, I was able to make projects for myself, giving me personal validation that my learning and viewpoints matter, therefore, giving me opportunity to make a difference around me.

What about 2019?

I’m getting a late start here when it comes to reflecting on the last 365 days, and how I’d like to succeed in the next 365. Then again, it’s only appropriate. Though I accomplished so much for myself in 2018, I want to slow down a bit in 2019. I don’t want to rush through all the things to say that I did a ton of things. Alternatively, I want to create space for more reflection and increase the value from the things that I will interact with.

Second, I realize I need to remember this quote more frequently:

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Comparing myself to others pushed me forward to do more for myself, but it also set me back. It doesn’t let me go at my own pace, and embrace my own unique self. It puts more value on other people’s values rather than discovering my own.

Happy New Year, everyone! May the coming days be enriching and of value to all of us, no matter what our goals, milestones, and pace. Be the best you.




  1. Joye Sarka says:

    Beautifully said old friend!


    1. digilou says:

      Thanks, Joye! Good to hear from you.


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