It’s the last day of 2019, and a great time to reflect on what happened this year. This year went by in a flash with some key events. At the middle of February, I got staffed to a blockchain project in Malaysia as part of the functional team. It was a great opportunity to work with emerging technology in a real use case. In parallel, I also submitted my MBA application to INSEAD (Read about it here : Why MBA & Application Preparation).
Then I received the admission announcement at the middle of the year, finished the project in around October, and finally left the team in early December. Now I’m traveling around Europe before the MBA program starts.
Throughout the year, there are several practical learnings that I hope to share with you. For learnings related to work and career, I think my reflection on my time in Accenture is a good representative of what I learned and it still holds true (Read about it here)
Having a to-do list is a life saver
Starting in Q3 2019, the number of things I have to prepare for INSEAD keeps on increasing. Starting from visa application, prework, and planning. Add things to do from work and personal life, and it becomes harder and harder to keep track of everything. Using an app to help track all of these are a great way to ensure I don’t miss out on anything. It takes time to build a habit, and I can safely say that I’m getting in the rhythm of continually managing it.
Personally, I recommend Microsoft To-Do. A key reason is the simple user interface and the app experience in Windows & iOS. It also links to your Outlook.com account (This means if you use Outlook app and link it to your outlook.com account, you’ll see the tasks from To Do),
Keeping a diary helps reflect and serves as good rereading in the future
The idea of keeping a diary has been quite attractive for me in the past. But the idea that was stuck in my head was that I should do a daily entry in a diary. Most of the time, I couldn’t follow through after 2-3 days.
This year, what I’m doing is to make an entry twice a week, and it’s rarely more than 2-3 short paragraphs. Most of the entries simply consists of what has happened since the previous entry, how I felt, and any thoughts.
Paying for an online cloud storage is worth it
This year I started subscribing to an online cloud storage and got terabytes of space. It is one of my most useful purchases of the year. It helped me manage my hard drive space, and it saved me from maintaining multiple external hard drives. It’s worth shelling out some cash for the convenience. I have even migrated all my photos to the space, so it’s easy for me to access any of the photos from my past anywhere.
Take vacations, you deserve it
I don’t know who needs to read this, but go take your vacation. No matter what kind of work you’re doing, the company will not explode if you take a vacation for 1-2 weeks. While you’re on your vacation, have the courage to not reply to work related communications and stop saying sorry that you’re on vacation. It’s your right to take a vacation, and you need to stand up for yourself.
Stick to a hotel chain, loyalty programs are worth it
While taking trips (both business and personal), I recommend you to stick to a hotel chain. When you just start out with a hotel chain loyalty program, there’s not a lot of benefit. But it gets better quite quickly. The points will pile up before you know it, and maybe you’ll get enough nights in the year to upgrade your status for the next year. A key benefit I love is the early check in/late check out benefit. Sometimes I even check in at 7 AM and check out at 5 PM. It’s essentially extending the stay for half a day for free!
The 2 biggest hotel chain I recommend would be Accor & Marriott. The key difference between both is the strength of the network. Accor is stronger than Marriott in Europe. While Marriott is stronger in the US. So if you travel to the US more, Marriott makes a more logical choice.
5 practical learnings that I got in 2019 that I think is easily applicable no matter what your walk of life is. Thank you for reading and I wish you a beautiful year end!