January 11, 2022 · 6 min read

2021 retrospective

I wanted to do a year retrospective for a long time ago. These past two years have been pretty strange to say the least, so I won't be harsh with myself. I think it's useful to frequently reflect about what went well and what sucked, and what a better time to do that than the second week of January.

It’s already 2022 and it’s been almost two years since this madness started. My earliest memories about the COVID-19 pandemic date back from late 2020 January in Barcelona, Spain. I was in the IESE campus, the first or the second day of the PDD program. It is a high-tech well-equipped campus in a very exclusive neighborhood of Barcelona called Pedralbes. It’s January 24, 2020 to be precise, and I just flew from Mallorca at 06:00am. We’re having a coffee with other alumni in the rest area, which has TV screens with either Bloomberg or some other business channel1. After the first classes, we go back to grab more coffee and there’s a big, bold text in the news channel that says something like “deadly pneumonia”. PDD classes for those who are already working full time run each Friday, so we go home late by night and come back the next week. First week of February and we keep seeing similar headlines in all the TV’s around the campus. But this time the thing already has a name: COVID-19.

So, fast-forward to 2022, I don’t know what the hell happened. Yesterday I was enjoying a healthy (almost perfect) balance of family time, work time and simultaneously going to the PDD program and the enabling MSc. to have a computer science teacher alternative path, and right now I feel I aged 20 years in 20 months. What a better time to do a quick retro about the past year and start working to achieve, again, that perfect healthy balance, right? But, before that, let’s start with a brief explanation of how I’m going to do it.

Retro methodology

I’m a big fan of Alexander Grosse’s retrospective methodology at SoundCloud2. It’s simple enough to be both powerful and easy to use. Basically, there are three categories:

  • Less.
  • Same.
  • More.

I will add, too, some quantification and objectives so I can know if I’m getting there or not. That’s all we need to run a personal retro and get meaningful results, so let’s dive in.


Basically, what should I do less? What should I reduce this 2022? Writing down this, daily, is actually a proven methodology to do therapy, so why not keeping a record of what I don’t like to spend time doing? It might be hard to reduce to zero, but a 1% increase in the good direction compounds in the long term.

Zero physical activity weeks

No more weeks with absolutely zero activity besides taking the dog for a walk. I had to stop training just when the pandemic started and I’ve already lost a lot of cardio and strength capacity. I had the capacity to ride more than 200km but now I barely can reach half of that. Good health means having the capacity to train regularly, so no more zero minutes streaks.

News consumption

I had enough. I’ll let Bill Hicks explain that for me.

Social media and FOMO

I follow a lot of super smart, highly productive people, and I love to see what they’ve been at recently. Friends that do tons of super cool stuff, never miss a party or a show, travel to lots of places and have tons of time for themselves. I’m neither and I happen to have two little kiddos, so there’s always there that FOMO thing when browsing social networks. Time to reduce my doomscrolling and find more meaningful interactions.


I still drag some debt from my 2.0 college time. Let’s kill it! I already managed to do it, so let’s mark it as completed ✅.

Family discussions

No more than once a month. For now, I’m on track 🥰.


Keep doing it and improve if possible. Fairly simple.

Home cooking

One of the superb perks of being remote is that you can eat fresh and homemade if you organize yourself. I want to keep doing it, avoid buying fast-food when working from home and start introducing new recipes. For now, I’m rotating from several ones that are healthy, balanced and my cooking robot can easily do.

Early mornings

I managed to get up earlier for the end of 2021, but it’s January 2022 and I’m already starting to fail here. Tip 1, go to bed with the little ones. Tip 2, have at least 45 min for unwind before falling asleep. I found out that if I don’t properly unwind before going to bed (reading something, watching half an hour of a movie or series), it’s really hard for me to enter into the “rest state”.


Things I should start doing again or just do more frequently.

Quick camper overnights

We love to prepare some food and go out with the camper van. We’ve been doing it, but only at the end of 2021 and not enough times. So, for 2022, I want to do this quick family trips with my wife and kids at least once a month.

Return to cycling

Cycling is like a therapy. Either you ride with friends and have great time or you go solo and enter into the focus zone while training. Also, it’s great because you exercise and do some cardio hours. I need to ramp up my cycling time again, and I want to start as soon as possible. My goal is to ride at least 300km per month. I think it’s an easy target that will motivate me to keep pushing and start the habit again.

Read daily

I have a lot of books I’m dying to start reading but I haven’t found the right habit to keep my daily reading habit. Starting simple, with 15min per day, seems a good strategy, and we’ll see how it goes from there. I would love to do some planning too, but it seems overkill right now so I will begin reading whatever I feel I’ll enjoy the most.

Family planning

We feel that we’ve been surfing the wave, and we’ll have to keep doing it for the upcoming years. However, either because we’re so tired from the pandemic or any other personal issues happening, we feel that we could have had a better Christmas season. Or better birthdays parties. Or any other special thing we do with our little ones. So, for 2022, we want to plan at least 3 family ceremonies. Let’s see which ones end up getting there.


Writing is an essential skill for the remote worker, and specially for engineers, managers or any other similar role. If you want to become good at programming, you need to code. If you want to get better at your instrument, you need to play more. And, of course, if you want to get better at writing, you need to write more. My commitment with this goal is to write once a month in my personal blog. I already have quite a few topics that motivates me to do it, so we’ll see how this plays out.

That’s it for now. Thanks to Justin Duke for being an inspiration in this kind of write-ups.

  1. In the end, it’s a business school.
  2. I know, the link is a bit old, almost 10 years, but I think it’s a great method that goes to the core of what a retrospective must be.
Hi 👋! I’m Álvaro, a software engineer and manager living in Palma, Spain. My current focus is on the intersection of engineering, product development and management. Learn more about me.
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