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My 2021 Reflection

My 2021 Reflection

Since it is New Year’s Eve morning here, and others have started posting their thoughts on this past year, I thought I’d quickly write out mine.Since it is New Year’s Eve morning here, and others have started posting their thoughts on this past year, I thought I’d quickly write out mine.

Compared to 2020, this year has had a few positives. Vaccines, for one, which I’m grateful for as I’m in an at-risk group. I’ve gotten fitter and kept the pounds off consistently, which pleases me. And I’ve started a few new habits, in particular journalling with pen and paper.

2021 has been the year when I finally got to grips with using the various productivity apps I have to reduce the ‘busywork’ that I find myself routinely doing. Keyboard Maestro, Hazel and DEVONthink work tirelessly every day to speed me along at my iMac and tidy up behind me. :) And utilities like Permute, ImageOptim and GraphicConverter, while called upon less, have done sterling work in helping me with my archival of old artwork and photography.

Sadly, not everything in 2021 was rosy. We remain lumbered here in the UK with a government that is incompetent at best, corrupt and self-serving at worst. Not what is needed to deal with an ongoing pandemic, or the unfolding issues stemming from Brexit. At least with the former their ‘effort’ is contained within the borders of England, the other nations of the (for now) United Kingdom have their own policies. I sometimes despair at the glee with which many politicians and pundits are wrecking our international reputation, and our economy.

The situation across the Atlantic is, if anything, even more depressing. I cling to the hope that people at the grassroots level can stop the evident desire to destroy all democratic processes, since there’s little sign that anyone in Congress will act. I fear for all my US friends as the midterm elections loom and Covid-19 continues to batter them from all angles.

I’ve managed to read a few books this year, and physical ones at that. There is a large backlog on my shelves, but I’m hopeful that I’ll reduce that by the end of 2022.

The most fascinating, and depressing, read of 2021 was undoubtedly Social Warming by Charles Arthur, with its deeply-researched histories of how Twitter, Facebook, Google and others developed in the ways they did, and the effects that has had on society at large. Subsequent revelations during this year have cemented the central thread, the pursuit of growth (and profit) at all costs.

I will be re-reading Getting Things Done, David Allen’s book that coined the much-used acronym ‘GTD’ in the new year to see what else I need to do to improve my productivity system. The first reading was enormously helpful in clarifying the ‘what’ and ‘why’, whereas I’d previously been fixated on the ‘how’ aspect.

I found Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport to be somewhat of a curate’s egg: good in parts, but perplexing in others. While I enjoyed the historical insights he documented, I found that many of the proposed solutions assumed a surplus of both wealth and time. As I’ve stepped away from social media, I can confirm that my health has markedly improved. But I feel that throwing money (and tech) to fix problems created by other tech is a fool’s errand at best. Better to step back and away, decide what’s important and discard the rest.

Finally, I’m enjoying How To Be Old by Rachel McAlpine, even though I don’t feel ‘old’ right now. Her poems are both whimsical and insightful, exposing the problems older people face, including those caused by the attitudes of society-at-large.

This past year has seen me saying goodbye to several things. My old all-in-one inkjet printer / scanner / copier finally breathed its last. I gave up on Apple Music after uncovering the damage it had done to my local music library. And various apps and utilities were discarded as I re-evaluated them.

For now, my primary devices remain in good health, and I’ll continue to use them for as long as I can. While Apple’s new iMacs and MacBook Pros tempt me, there’s plenty of life in my current hardware, and I’m interested to see how the rest of the Mac range will be updated.

I’d be lying if I said that I though 2022 would be a better year. All I can do is work on the things that I have the power to change, and give what support I can to those who can start fixing the things I can’t change.

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