Reflecting back on 2021 – a year in review

yearinreview

Every year, I try to sum up my whole year in a blog post. The year in a review usually showcases some of the most significant things of the year to me ranging from friends, family, work and more. 2021 was a very unique year for me considering many things. This article tries to sum up those moments that had the most impact on me last year.

Starting the year 2021 with deep grief

My family and I were facing a very sad time at the start of the year. As I had mentioned in a previous blog post both in English and Bangla, I had lost my father this year.

This was very unexpected and came as a shock to us. My father was one of the greatest men I met in my entire life and losing that person, took a heavy toll on all of us. I still sometimes have nightmares, flashbacks of my dad. I regret why there wasn’t a bit more time.

He had the brain hemorrhage stroke on the 28th of December, 2020 and my new year started. He was in a coma for 3 months and died on March 22, 2021. I simplified the whole thing in a few lines but the journey was very tough for us. Whoever has lost someone close can relate to it.


The first couple of months of the new year was very hectic for me and my family. If you probably took care of someone sick — you would have known already. Since he was in a coma, someone from the family had to be with him always. My brother Toufiq Hassan, I, and one of my close relatives (who helps with us managing some home stuff) Jashim covered the shifts mostly in a week. Meanwhile, I was doing a full-time job at Poptin as well around that time. I’m thankful to the Poptin team that they were very supportive of the whole situation.

My father died on March 22, and we immediately went to Jessore, to our ancestral home for his burial. After 2 Janajah (one in Dhaka, one in Jessore) — we finally lowered him to his grave for eternal rest. May Allah SWT grant him Jannah.

Coping up with the new reality

Just when we were coping up with the new reality of living without my father, I slowly got to understand how many of the things my father took care of without us knowing. We never had to worry about electricity bills, utility bills, municipality taxes, collecting house rents, finding new people for rent, and more stuff.

This whole thing was a huge learning for me and I often had nights when I had a very tough time coping up with the grief and loss. This might have been the first year when I sometimes felt really low and cried my heart out. But yeah that’s life.


Getting my very own, MacBook Air M1.

When I joined Poptin last year, I had to buy a new MacBook. It was long before the M1 PRO and M1 MAX revolution that Apple put at the end of the year. After looking at the new MacBook Air at that time, and comparing it with the MacBook Pro with a touch bar — I felt I’d be better off with the Air.

I like fanless and compact stuff. MacBook Air was definitely the best choice for me and it is still a very capable machine for most of my things.

MacM1
My first, very own, MacBook Air M1

I opted for Air M1, 16GB RAM. After using almost 8 months or so, I can vouch for its performance and it hasn’t let me down ever since. I was amazed at how good the ARM64 migration was done via Rosetta. Apple has fundamentally changed computers, forever.

Doing a full re-design of an existing plugin with 20K+ users, MyStickyElements

As a Product Manager, my strength is not in designing. However, I started the year with almost a redesigned version of the old MyStickyElements plugin which already had 20K+ users at that time. I designed the whole thing in Figma. This helped me to have more skills in Figma and figured out Auto Layout this year. Even since I figured it out, I had been an avid fan of the feature.

We released this plugin on 18th June 2021. We did a total revamp of the existing UI/UX and each element was re-designed (custom element, workflow, button changes, animation, preview, hover, etc). One of the tough things was to make it familiar to existing users, and also make it refreshing and easier to use for new & existing users.

Of course, much feedbacks from others came along and helped me to do the workflow right. And we had to ensure every feature works like it was before. The testing and fixing of small things almost took 1.5 months: after the plugin was ready with 2 months development. Happy it’s out there.

The plugin had been receiving a lot of great reviews as well. (Thanks to our incredible support team! 💪)

Planning my wedding reception amidst the pandemic

Last year, on December 11, my Nikah was done with my wife, Tanjim Binte Kuyum. But there were still the official wedding ceremony and wedding reception remaining. This year, around May, I thought about preparing for the wedding & reception.

However, things were not as simple. There was a date planned, we took all the preparation for that date, and right before 2 days – the event was postponed due to an extension of lockdown in Bangladesh. So I had to some running between different family members, different wedding organizers and things like that.

After the first time, we planned it the second time. Fortunately, it was alright this time.

Saif Wedding Ceremony
A F.R.I.E.N.D.S Theme’d Wedding

I had done a F.R.I.E.N.D.S themed wedding and shared one of my wedding photos on Reddit.

To my surprise, the photo was shared almost 100+ times with 2K upvotes on Reddit.

Getting more skilled into time management, multitasking & cross-team collaboration

Premio Plugins has a lot of products including 5 WordPress products, 3 Shopify products, and 1 Wix product. We are also working on a great SaaS platform for 2022 which we’ll unveil shortly. All this product management meant I was more cautious about time management. This year, I started using a designated To-do app to organize things. I have been using Todoist mainly, but I often use Microsoft’s To-Do as well (I did a custom Slack integration through Zapier).

As a Product Manager – one has to do cross-team collaboration pretty frequently. However, previously At my previous company, I was looking after only 2 products. This year, I had to manage, and do cross-team collaboration for almost 9+ products of the Premio Plugins brand. All of this helped me to be more specific while communicating, being more collaborative while getting more productive and overall having better communication with others than I had last year. All of this, while being remote. Awesome, huh?

Cutting down social media usage

As you probably read before, I cut down on social media big time. All of this helped me to do better use of time and I saw my productivity go up throughout the year after cutting down on social media.

Also, I replaced some of my Facebook time with Reddit which is pretty great to find and join niche communities. I am loving it so far. 🙌

Losing my paternal uncle

After losing my father last year, things were still in the recovery phase as I mentioned earlier in the blog. However, this year, I lost my paternal uncle (চাচা/Bangla: Cha-Cha) which also was a massive disaster to our family.

The man who was getting the date is no more with us (Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajun). The photo was taken at my Nikah

My uncle left behind 2 daughters and one son — all are still teens. If you are reading this article, I ask you to make dua for both my father and uncle as they had passed away this year.

Having some nice family moments

This year, I had some nice family moments as well with my own family and extended family. I went on a short tour at Srimangal, went to Jashore for a few days to meet and spend some time with my wife, and had some good time with my cousins, relatives, grand-parents & other family members along the way

Nature

Also, we celebrated our first anniversary as well 🎉

🎬 Consuming some nice movies & TV series

I love watching movies & TV series. This year was no different. Among the many movies and TV series I watched this year, here are some of my picks that you can also watch

  • Zack Snyder’s Justice League
  • Godzilla V Kong
  • Spiderman No Way Home
  • Shang-Chi
  • The Matrix Resurrection
  • Free Guy
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine (A new sitcom I fell in love this year)
  • Loki
  • WandaVision

(I watched a few more but kinda forgot about them lol)

👀 Looking Ahead

I’m 26 this year; empathy is not something people tend to achieve at 26. But that’s one of my goals in 2021. Having more empathy among other things. 🙂

Here’s a photo collage of different moments of the year (I spent only 5min on it LOL)

Also, I plan to get fit, which I had been planning to do for a while (among other things). Also, I’d love to grow more as a person both professionally and personally.

3 responses

  1. Loved the article ❤️

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