MS

Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for modern teams. I write about productivity, #NoOffice, #iPadOnly and I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do.

2020 review - a true roller-coaster year 🦠

🗓Yearly

What a year 2020 was. The start was great, then the pandemic hit and now the world is completely different from the one we knew just a year ago as I was writing my 2019 review. Now, after I’ve published my subjective list of best blog posts of 2020, I’ve redesigned the Home Screens of both my iPad Pro 11” as well as the iPhone Mini it’s now time for my 2020 review. Posting such summary became kind of a tradition over the past 7 years. Luckily for me 2020 wasn’t all bad news but it really was a roller-coaster of a year:

Year of Covid-19 🦠

In February I was still oblivious. March hit hard and then suddenly we all found ourselves in a hard lock down. I published a video explaining that I don’t expect parents of kids work 100% for the foreseeable future in our team. Later the situation got a little better. We got used to wearing masks and social distancing and even managed to travel a little as a family. We cancelled both of our Nozbe Reunions and had a virtual one instead.

In my professional life I managed to launch a few things anyway:

Nozbe Teams launched in April-May!

The app we’ve been working on for the last 4 years finally launched in the middle of the lockdown. It wasn’t ideal, but we were happy to be inviting first customers on board and not only we love using it to get our teams organized but we know for a fact that other teams need it now more than ever.

The bad news is that selling a business tool is completely different than selling a consumer app like Nozbe Personal. So in many ways we’re back at being beginners learning to promote an app from scratch. Which is both exciting and frustrating. Hopefully 2021 will be the year when Nozbe Teams finally takes off!

This new blog called Michael.team launched!

It’s been a while since I wanted to finally simplify my domain name and my blogging engine and move from Sliwinski.com to Michael.team. My surname is hard to spell, and my first name is very popular and the DOT Team domain is very cool as it’s completely in sync with what I’m about now - team productivity.

Instead of leaving the old domain, I’ll be slowly migrating old posts and getting them organized again. It’s a long process but I just want to do it. I already managed to migrate all posts from 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016 so far. It’ll still take me a while to migrate everything all the way back from 2008. Wish me luck!

While launching this site I’m learning new and old technologies like JavaScript, Jekyll, HTML5, advanced CSS and Liquid. Based on my learnings I launched two small projects:

Two #NoOffice podcasts launched in August: NoOffice.fm in English and NieMaBiura.pl in Polish.

When the pandemic happened we felt like we needed to help everyone dealing with the sudden Work From Home scenario, so initially we did a few live video shows, but later we decided to just go ahead and start recording a fully-blown podcast. I’m happy our VP of Product, Rafal, pushed me to do this.

We’re recording every Tuesday at 2pm European time and publishing the following Friday. We’re on a tick-tock cadence: one Friday in English and the next one in Polish. Thus for each audience there’s a new episode every two weeks.

I got back to writing the #NoOffice book.

In August I decided to take time off from running Nozbe and take much needed vacation and get back to writing the #NoOffice book. It’s been long overdue. I announced I’d be writing this book back in June of 2015!!

It’s been a long struggle of mine. On one hand, what do I know? I’m just a guy running a small software company that works completely remotely. There are bigger companies than mine doing the same. Who am I to write about it?

But then again, when the pandemic happened, I realized people needed to learn from us. Businesses that suddenly had to work from home were completely lost. Things that to us at Nozbe are natural and easy, to them is a new world.

So now I’m finally writing this book. And I’m making it completely free to read online. In August I wrote 60% of it and I vlogged about it. Later I got back to work and was writing much slower. I’m at 82% now and this year in 2021 I’ve made it my priority to finish the book. As a way to have social accountability I’m documenting the whole writing process on my Instagram.

It’s been a tough year for many, including my company.

As the CEO of Nozbe I’ve had a tough year overall. Running two apps: Nozbe Personal and Nozbe Teams wasn’t as easy as I hoped. Overall we suffered a revenue loss of 20%. Many people assumed that just because we have two pieces of software that can help people in this pandemic, we’d naturally be winning. I wish it was that easy. We’re no Slack or Zoom. Not just yet.

Navigating this year people-wise was also challenging. On one hand I felt I had to keep my team motivated and calm, on the other I had to make some difficult changes. I had quite a few sleepless nights last year because of that. Eventually we hired 3 new folks and in the meantime 4 others left the company.

The silver lining is that I’m currently really happy with the team as it is right now entering this year. We’re 21 for ‘21.

Time for less. 2021 will be all about simplicity and essentialism!

One of my favorite books of all time is Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I’ve read his book countless times and as this year started I read it again to remember to focus on what’s essential.

I’ve already simplified my iPad’s Home Screen, iPhone’s Home Screen and journaling routine. These changes are already helping me to work in a more focused way.

However, the changes are going to be deeper. This year I’m trying to live with fewer goals, just like my online friends Leo Babauta and Jason Fried. I’m not sure goals work for me anymore.

I’m looking at everything from a perspective of what defines me. Of who I am. And here it is:

I’m a CEO of an all-remote software company Nozbe

This means I need to behave like a true CEO. I’m letting go of all my smaller day-to-day responsibilities and focusing on the one true responsibility - being a leader who takes care of the team and the business.

I want my team to thrive and for them to do that I need to give them more autonomy. I cannot both be helpful to them and also taking responsibilities away from them.

They’re responsible and I’m helpful. That’s the new dynamic.

If I take care of them and the overall business, they’ll succeed and we’ll all succeed.

I’m a writer and teacher of #NoOffice way of running business

It’s because:

Work is not a place to go, it’s a thing to do.

That’s why I’m bringing back my CORE HOURS routine to be able to finish writing the #NoOffice book and promote it worldwide. Later in the year also in Polish, Spanish and Japanese.

I’ll be also conducting more webinars and other courses throughout the year.

2021 will be a year of teaching and writing!

I’m a triathlete…

To stay in shape I’ll keep doing my triathlon training. In 2020 because of the pandemic I took part only in one triathlon, which I organized with a bunch of friends. It was only 6 of us, but it was lots of fun anyway!

Even though the lockdown hit in March, I still managed to outperform myself from 2019 in almost every sport:

So to sum it up, I’m a triathlete who swims around 30-50km per year, bikes 1500-2000km per year and runs 400-500km per year. These are not goals, these are more like reference points and define me as a triathlete. And I compete in at least one Olympic distance triathlon per year (1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run).

…and a tennis player and much more!

Ever since I picked up tennis in 2018, I’ve been steadily playing more and more. I did 30 hours in 2018, 60 hours in 2019 and 90 hours in 2020!

Yes, and I was playing several opponents last year and they all said I was already a worthy sparing partner. This year I’m planning on playing between 60-90 hours as well. This sport definitely brings me joy and is good for a social-distancing reality we have right now.

Apart from this a few interesting facts:

And I’m a dad to three daughters and a husband!

This is my main role. This year I’m making sure I spend enough time with all of my girls and be supportive of them. I feel that despite the pandemic we spent amazing time as a family last year and this year will be no different.

As for skills, I’m also trying to get my two eldest daughters to learn touch-typing. Let’s see!

Overall 2020 was hard and I’m hoping for a much better year of 2021!

With fewer goals, 2021 will be more about who I am and what I want to be passionate about. More about the direction, not goal.

And last but not least, let’s all get vaccinated so we can return to any type of normality pretty soon. Here’s hoping!

2020 review - a true roller-coaster year 🦠