A year in review 2018

Back in 2013, I started this blog to document my professional and personal journey. There was no theme that I wanted to run this blog on. I didn’t want it to be focused too much design, my travel journey or to give “gyan” all the time. I kept doing stuff offline & online that was interesting to me and I just felt like jotting them down so I can keep them somewhere on the web.

My goal back then was to just write 1 blog a month but I was never consistent. I barely wrote more than 1 in 2018. So starting this year, I am going to start blogging again. Nothing big, just 1 blog per month. That’s what I promised myself back in 2013 and that’s what I am going to try from now on.

1st blog’s snippet. Back then I had the blog hosted under my portfolio domain ✍

So, on those lines, what’s a better way than to start other than by reflecting on what happened/what kept me busy in 2018. Actually, a lot happened which is worthy of mentioning here, but I think I can bucket them in certain themes and that’s what I’ll highlight in this post. So without further ado, here are a few key moments from 2018. ✌

1. Got a new remote job 👨‍💻

Since college days, I very much liked the idea of working remotely and fancied it more so after reading the book “The 4-Hour Workweek”. It took me a while (around 4 years) to make the switch from a typical corporate job but I think the journey in between helped me gain a better perspective about the job industry which in-turn made the remote job hunting (comparatively) easy.

I’ll complete a year of remote work this month (January 2019) and I’ve really enjoyed every bit of 2018, to say the least. There’s so much happened only because of this remote job that I can spend days jotting them down here. But, it’s just one blog post and I wanted to write only about the major highlights, so…here are a few notable things that happened because of my new remote job/lifestyle:

  • More “me” time. Having a regular 9-to-5 office job means a couple of hours being spent on getting ready, commuting daily, water-cooler conversations, etc., which I don’t have to deal with anymore. I now have more time in my hands which I can use to spend on other activities that I like (or just simply relax more.) 💆‍♂️

  • More traveling. Since the job is remote, I’ve traveled more in a year than I’d have done in 2-3 years combined if I were in a day job. To sum it up, I traveled to 5 countries, 23 cities, and 169 places. That’s Google being meticulous, not me. More on my travels below 🧭
My 2018 travelogue – Summed up by Google
  • Improved communication skills. Since my company is pretty distributed and we have people from all around the world, acing in communication becomes a must have. Although my English wasn’t that bad, but I think it was pretty average. Working with colleagues, communicating with them over Slack day-in-&-out and interacting with them personally face-to-face during team trips have definitely helped me polish my English even more. 💪

  • Better understanding of different cultures. Last year, I traveled in quite a decent amount (work related or otherwise) to meet office colleagues and other remote workers/travelers who come from various ethnic backgrounds. Getting to know about their culture, their way of living, what is acceptable and not acceptable in their cultures, and many other nitty-gritties has enriched and broadened my perspective about the world. Learning about these differences first hand is an undoubtedly valuable and fun experience. 👨‍👩‍👧‍👧
The happy SellerCrowd team during our get together in Lisbon, Portugal in 2018
  • Less gossip. I am the kind of person who gets into gossip easily, I admit. So a remote job works best for people like me as I hardly get any chance to gossip about anything with anyone over a Slack chat. Telecommuting just makes it harder to get into stupid habits that a corporate day-job offers by default. 🤐

2. Moved to Bangalore 🏡

So after taking up the remote job in late January 2018, I wanted to stay back in Pune for a while to give myself some time to understand what sort of work routine and lifestyle I’ll have going forward. I had the comfort of a cute small studio apartment, friends from Wingify (my previous company) to have a quality social life and football games going twice every week to stay fit and happy.

My studio apartment in Pune (2016-18) 🏠

But slowly, all my friends started moving out of Pune to join companies in different locations. Gradually, this left me alone in Pune with very few social connections. And also, living in a studio apartment served me well till the time I was working with Wingify. A small house doesn’t bite you when you work in a bigger office throughout the week and you just have to be in your studio apartment for 70-80% of the weekend. But soon the smaller space and lack of friends started biting me, so I decided to move to a bigger house and to a city where I already have my friends.

Bangalore seemed like the default choice for my next home as it already had a few of my friends working there, I liked the city’s urban culture and it already had a well-established design community which wasn’t there in Pune, mostly because Pune didn’t have a decent amount of design-centered IT companies, and Bangalore had plenty.

DesignUp 2017 @Bangalore with these lovely designers from Wingify 👨‍👨‍👧‍👦

Thankfully I wasn’t making the switch blindly based on what I had heard about the design community in Bangalore. In 2017, I came to Bangalore for a 2-day trip to attend this design event called DesignUp which literally convinced me to make the move. The sheer presence of the designers (and other IT professionals) was amazingly vibrant and supportive. I had to be in Bangalore. ✊

Finally, I made the move to Bangalore in June last year, shifted to a bigger house and was busy setting up the house which is functional for a remote employee like me. Along those lines, “How to set up a house which allows remote work” is a bigger topic that I will cover in a separate blog post.

BTW, here are a few quick snapshot of how my life looks like around my new house in Bangalore 😬

3. Traveled quite a lot 🗺

Working for a remote company allows you to just be anywhere. All you need is a good working internet connection and laptop (+most of your work on the cloud). This allowed me to experiment with my travel plans exactly how I imagined after reading the book “4 Hour Workweek”. Here are a few highlights:

  • Traveled to Madrid, Spain: My 2018’s travel journey kicked off by flying to Madrid, Spain for my company’s get together. The day I was flying to Madrid was the day I was joining my new company and It was definitely a first for me i.e. to be able to fly and get on-boarded in a new country, in your new job and on your first day. 🤯
More Madrid pictures here: Instagram album 📸
  • Traveled to Ooty, India: After Madrid, I traveled and worked from Ooty with my brother for about 10 days.
More Ooty pictures here: Instagram album 📸
  • Went home twice this year for 2+ weeks/visit: Again, I think going back to your hometown for straight 2+ weeks in one go is something that is highly unlikely to be allowed by most companies in India. Here, we do have policies like “WFH” and/or “Unlimited leaves”, but they’re mostly a marketing tactic to attract talent and never let anyone reap the benefits. And being remote gives you this location freedom by default. 🎒
My work setup, back at my parent’s place 💻
  • Lived outside India for about 1.5 months: This was my first outside-India experiment where I traveled to a new country/city and worked. It wasn’t a vacation but it sure looked/felt like one. I was traveling with my friend who’s also a remote worker to de-risk the cons of traveling alone for the first time (if any). It was amazing and I’ll be doing it this year as well. If you’re interested, you can check the pictures from the trip here.

More Malaysia / Singapore pictures here: Instagram album 📸

  • Lastly, traveled to Lisbon, Portugal: I spent my first few weeks of December 2018 in Lisbon. It was for another team get together for 3 weeks. Loved Lisbon more than Madrid as it has a different vibe and felt more homely. 🧡
More Lisbon pictures here: Instagram album 📸

I don’t think any day-job would offer this flexibility of being able to work from anywhere and anytime you want. Hence, I’ve come to believe that having a lifestyle that you desire is something is only possible for remote workers, freelancers and/or a CEO/people at executive positions in companies.

4. Made yoga somewhat a habit 🧘‍♂️

I started doing yoga after going remote. I was used to moving a lot when I was in Wingify as they had pretty big office there. But after going remote and working from home, comparatively, you move quite less. To tackle that, I started doing yoga in Pune but was less frequent there. After moving to Bangalore, I have tried doing yoga at least 4-5 times a week which is quite a good start IMHO.

5. Became completely debt free 💸

I studied Automotive Engg. on an education loan but didn’t finish my college degree. Irrespective of that, I had to pay the loan and it was a hefty amount. This year in April, I finished off my education loan by fast-tracking the payout. The feeling of clearing that debt can’t be expressed in words. 🙂

With that feeling of financial freedom, I decided right at that moment that I am not going to take any big loans in near future. Past few years of working towards paying out my education loan acted (and still acts) as a good reminder of how life can be less flexible when you have a big loan on your head. You can’t leave your job to relax a bit, you can’t start a business if you want, you can’t take another loan, so on and so forth. In short, you become risk-averse. So yeah, no more loans in foreseeable future and I am quite proud of getting that debt off. 🤠


Other than that, in 2018, there are things that happened in between, small and big. But I don’t want to write about everything here. I do post regularly on my social channels and if you’re interested, you can follow me there.

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Dribbble

So that was it! A recap of good big things that happened in 2018 which made me really happy, content and a little wiser. So, here’s to a good writing start to 2019 and much more to follow. 🥂👋


P.S.: The blog cover is heavily inspired by Matt‘s latest YouTube video thumbnail.

Getting along with minimal lifestyle-design again – #ProjectDoMoreWithLess

2016 has been an interesting and learning year for me. Both personally and professionally.

Personally, I was into my new relationship and was learning to adapt to differential habits we as humans have. It’s interesting how we want everyone else to be like us i.e. force our likings/habits and in the process ruin the relationship altogether. My learning from this is to embrace difference we all have as humans. I am still learning and it’s a long way to go.

Professionally, 2016 was more like reading/learning year for me. I didn’t design much but was reading about design and product development/management. My learning from this journey is that don’t just read articles or watch videos, put them into action. Plus, do one thing at a time and keep your mind focused on one goal until you get a good grip on it. Pretty obvious, right?! Well everyone has their right to their mistakes – a Good mistake that I did, was taking up too many projects at work and doing average in all of them. A year passed and from a design point of view in my career, I was at the same place I was in 2015. I grew very little in terms of enhancing/developing my design skills. Again, that’s another story for another blog post.

This blog post is about a new habit that I am trying to adopt lately. It’s about finding happiness by owning less. It’s about clearing up space around, both physically and mentally for the things that matter the most. It’s about reducing stress while increasing satisfaction and thus happiness in life. It’s about practicing Minimalism in every aspect of life.

This realization of practicing and putting minimalism in place came sudden and strong when I moved to a new apartment this year. In past 3 years, I’ve moved to 4 new apartments, all in 4 different locations/neighbourhood.

House #1 [Delhi]

House #2 [Delhi]

House #3 [Pune]

House #4 [Pune]

This constant change has led me to know more about the things I own. Every time I move to a new apartment, I come across things that I haven’t used for ages, but still kept them for any x number of reasons.

This year, while moving to my 3rd apartment, I noticed that I wasn’t using about 20%-30% of my total stuff and probably will not in near future as well. To give the gist, I had 2-3 shirts that I never wore, a small fridge that I wasn’t going to use because I live in a fully-furnished apt. now which has a bigger fridge, 2-3 extra bed sheets, 3 blue inked extra ball point pens, 2 same color highlighters, so on and so forth.

It was clear that I have hoarded a lot and using very less of my stuff. I’ve tried shedding things in the past but I do it when I am free or have nothing to do on a weekend. But this time I wanted to take this seriously and make this a habit. I needed to shed my belongings.

[Side note: If you’re struggling to see the value in adopting minimalism, don’t read further. Go and read why & how Joshua BeckerJoshua, Ryan and Leo Babauta adopted minimalism.]

Starting this year, among my other new year resolutions, I decided to audit my belongings, from big to medium to the smallest thing that I keep, I’ll audit everything, every 3-4 months. But in order to audit them in the most effective manner, I needed a system where I can track all my useless belongings better so later I can come back to it and decide to throw, donate, or sell.

Here’s how I am doing it:

  1. I am auditing every section of my house every 3rd or 4th month depending upon my availability and stuff hoarded along the way. After shedding a little in the last 6 months, I still have 3 closets to review.
  2. I have divided 4 sections for 4 weekends for the audit month. For example, I’ll audit kitchen the 1st weekend, bedroom room on 2nd, washroom on 3rd, and if anything is left, I am keeping the 4th weekend for that. Since I live in a studio apt., I don’t have rooms i.e. there’s only one room which has attached kitchen and washroom + a small balcony, but dividing them into sections is still easy.
  3. Maintain a note – Track everything. I am using Evernote to keep track of things that I am not using. You can use a notebook or a A4 paper. Don’t let this be an excuse. Just use anything to remember what you’re not using and can shed. Ex:
  4. Action time! Sell, donate or throw – Just do it! Once I’ve identified the items I’m not using or going to use, from different rooms/sections of my house, I decide what to do with them. I am using a combination of The 20-20 Method and The KonMari Method to decide what to do with my items. [I’ve explained what both of these rules mean below]

Rules you can follow:

You can use different rules or a combination of them while auditing and deciding what to do. I’ll list 3 of them here:

  1. The 20-20 Method by TheMinimalist.com says: “If you can get the item within 20 minutes of where you are and by spending less than $20, then you donate, sell or throw the item”
  2. The KonMari Method™ by Marie Kondo says (simplifying here) that if your belongings don’t spark joy when you hold them or when you’re around them, you should discard them. This is quite subjective and needs to be understood before applying.
  3. One Job, Multiple solutions Method says if you have multiple items for doing the same job, you can just keep one and shed the rest. For example, if you have 10 pens and you usually use 1-2 of them, you should shed the rest. People often keep things for the sake of keeping it. A lot of us are hoarders in general and like to collect stuff. Remember that collecting for the sake of it, is dangerous. It adds up to your space mentally and physically. You’ll spend more time maintaining stuff that you don’t own compared to using that time to do something you love.

So what’s my progress?

I’ve started auditing my stuff this year but will be doing this more seriously now. Here are things that I’ve shed so far (with details):

This will be an ongoing process and I’ll keep updating this post. If you want to stay updated and follow me on my minimal journey, you can follow me on my Instagram Profile – I’ll be updating there too.

If you’re auditing your belongings or just starting up, I’d love to know your process and the journey so far. Feel free to mention in comments!

Living life in a fast lane and ways to slow down

2_Feb_2013_fastlane

Now-a-days I ask myself a simple question – “What are the things I want to do before I die?” – The list is long and it keeps on growing.

When I thought that I wanted to become a product designer, I started working very hard to achieve that goal. Now when I look back from where I started and compare it to the goal that I’ve set, I realize that I have climbed only a few branches of the tree and the crown is still very far. If you ask me – “what did I do to get where I am today (in the field of designing)?” I will answer that with – “only hard work and doing things that make me happy”. I started setting small goals and did everything to achieve them. But did I enjoy every moment of those days when I was designing? No! Because I was pushing myself hard and didn’t give other adventures a room to entertain. When I wasn’t designing, I was engaged in random acts, like checking my facebook notifications, surfing the internet, playing computer games all day long, which are also a way to relax (to some extent), but are useless most of the time.

Since the day I was born i.e. 20 years ago from today, I have lived 7,305 days….wait wait wait….you see, 7,305 days?! That’s huge. REALLY HUGE and there are only few days or moments that I remember and can tag as ‘remarkable’ (take for example 18th of September of 2012, Tuesday was the day when I launched my portfolio website). And due to these facts, there I was, again asking few questions to myself: What I was doing the rest of 7,255 days? (Approximately taking 50 days as productive ones), Why is that I didn’t enjoy every moment or each day? The answer was very simple. I was LIVING MY LIFE IN A FAST LANE.

Today, we live in a society where everyone desires more. Everyone wants a bigger house, a better car, more money, more respect, increment in salary, promotion and what not! To achieve those dreams, we started living a life in which we are always working to get to a better position. We neglect what we have and pursue better life (of course that’s important because what’s the point of living a life in which we don’t grow). But in this process of getting better, we ignore many other beautiful things happening around us. Everything moves so fast that we barely get a chance to witness those beautiful and magical moments. In short, we stop enjoying life and we hardly know it. And that is called living life in a fast lane.

So what’s the way out? The answer I figured out and also suggested by many is to: LIVE IN PRESENT or (in simple terms) to SLOW DOWN. By living in present, we enjoy almost everything. We don’t have to wonder about our past neither care about the future. We simply focus on our present. Focusing and living in present means knowing more about ourselves, caring about everyone, spending our time with our loved ones rather than checking facebook notifications, being polite to everyone, getting close to nature and admiring its beauty, to choose between things that are more important to you, in which you find the joy…..and the list goes on.

What living in present can reward us with is beyond our imagination. Just to point out a few, it will make us more contented, organized, calm, generous, optimistic, and modest, who lives to inspire, who encourages people, and who has less weakness and more strength.

So, I am going to try and slow things down a bit from now on so that I can enjoy this beautiful life. I know it’s very hard to be consistent on this path of choosing between actions which promises to deliver equal amount of joy as compared to the hard work and dedication involved. But I will try because in the end when I die, I want my eyes closed but heart open.

So here’s a question and a song by Eminem Ft. Royce called FAST LANE I would like to leave you with.

Q.WHAT YOU WANT TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE? (Share your dreams in the comment section below)

And if you haven’t figured it out till now from the paragraphs that followed, let me tell you, it’s me and my twin brother’s birthday today. So CHEERS!

1_Jan_2013_happybdayma

Your visit is really appreciated. Slow down and enjoy life.