There’s no point in denying this, so I’ll say it like it is. During 2022, I’ve been terrible at writing and keeping this blog alive. I’ve struggled to find time, topics, and motivation. Writing bi-weekly for years is really hard! But there’s tradition to writing my year in review; 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 are proof of that. I hope that I’ll stick to this tradition even if it’s the only post I write every year!
Projects & Work
It’s been a year of many changes. As you may know, at the end of last year, I was a full-time employee at Product Inc as their Head of User Experience. Product was great in the sense that I got to work with amazing people - to be completely honest - they are some of the very best people I know. But as important as that is, I also felt stuck. I’m really not great at being full-time.
Quoting Kevin Costner in Bodyguard;
“I’m not good in permanent positions, my feet go to sleep.”
In early January 2022, I decided to resign without an actual plan. What I was confident in is the high demand for freelancers and that my 12 years of consulting experience meant something. I kinda knew what I was getting myself into.
Luckily, it didn’t take long until projects were lined up. The most fascinating opportunity came from my friend Rob. He had just joined a new startup, Titan Space, and working with their mission sounded like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I just knew I needed to explore this. I started working with the Titan crew by helping them define things like their user experience principles and design system. It turns out that designing things that are to be used on Earth - and in space!! - is no easy task. It was incredibly fun to work with a startup again, and it even allowed me to fly to Los Angeles to work with the team on-site. As much as I love being remote, I really appreciate meeting the people I’m working with.
This trip also allowed me to meet my former colleague and now dear friend, Allen Orr in Los Angeles when did we get grey hair?! Towards the end of the summer, I started to realize that my time at Titan Space was beginning to feel more like another permanent position. This combined with the fact that they started to apply a more “on-site” approach to work made me realize that it was time to move on.
Soon I was referred to another startup, Summer Health. After working with something highly complex, like space experimentation, I was thrilled to work on a product I could explain to my parents in ten seconds. It turns out that it makes designing.. easier if you have a really solid understanding of the product. I’ve been loving my work with Summer Health, and I’ve just extended my contract with them for another six months. Tackling health care is obviously no small task, but being able to help out parents in need of medical care for their children does feel nice.
Apart from these larger projects, I’ve only had the chance to work on a few smaller projects. I got to work with Sennep in the UK together with Brian, who I’ve done coaching with for years. It was a lot of fun! I am also finishing up a project with Tractorbeam. I had Emily Edwards on my list of people I wanted to work with and it’s been absolutely amazing. To top it all off, I get to work with Amanda whose company I’ve enjoyed both at Ueno and Product too!
Website & Newsletter
As already mentioned, this is an area where I’ve fallen behind big time this year. Part of the reason is lack of motivation, but another big reason is, well, our new house and garden. While it’s a change of priorities, I believe it’s great for one’s design process. The top three posts are the same three as of 2021, meaning nothing I wrote this year made it onto the top list:
The one post I did write that got some attention was “Buying a car online? Polestar does it right” and a month in after actually getting the car, I’m just as happy with my choice!
I’ve moved my newsletter to Substack and I’m still exploring what the best way is to not cross-post everything on both Substack and my website.
At the end of 2021, somewhat out of the blue, we bought a house and quickly moved in. Although the house wasn’t in need of any major renovations, it’s fascinating just how much time a house can consume. Both Anna and I find most of these things fun and it’s a shared interest of ours, so it never really feels like ‘work’. This year, the garden was our biggest (never-ending) project. It’s interesting how things like mowing the lawn, can become a relaxing activity after working in front of a computer for hours on end. We’ve settled nicely into the house and adapted our pace to a more ‘country’ way of life.
Having a large house is convenient as we can always have friends visit and we get to enjoy their company for longer periods of time. Not to mention family! Last year my entire family came and stayed for Christmas and this year my parents have been here twice for a week at a time!
The second big thing this year was without a doubt our decision to take a puppy. After going back and forth about what breed we wanted, we decided to get an Irish Setter. On Anna’s and mine second date, our first ‘bonding’ moment came through our shared admiration of Taylor Swift, so in June, we picked up our own little Taylor. If you follow me on Instagram you have probably not missed this ;) She just turned 8 months and is a hand full for sure, but she’s also the sweetest. Having a dog again is so great for my general well-being.
With the current economic climate, layoffs happening everywhere, war, and rising rates, I’ve been a little concerned about what this will mean for my future work and the colleagues I’ve appreciated working with over the years. Nevertheless, I’m incredibly grateful that I’m still fully booked going into 2023. I don’t and will not ever take this for granted.
Looking ahead into 2023, I'm beyond excited about the fun (and challenging) projects I have lined up. At any time, but especially in this economic climate, I'm grateful to _have_ work and get to work with people way smarter than me.— Anton Sten (@antonsten) December 19, 2022
Here's what's next! (2/6)
I’m hoping 2023 will also be a year when I dare to opt out and try things a bit more. I have some thoughts on what this could be, so if not sooner, I’ll update you a year from now!