This blog is written for fellow Data Schoolers who are currently undergoing training. It is my advice regarding dashboard week.
Tip 1: Block out the “noise”
This is not my general advice for training, but when it comes to dashboard week, my first piece of advice is: don’t listen to the coaches! Some coaches seem to take pleasure in trying to freak us out about the week; they are making it bigger than it is. It is just a week of daily tasks. Your dashboards won’t be spectacular, but that’s ok. Don’t listen to the coaches who are trying to freak you out about Dashboard week.
Tip 2: Keep things in perspective to lower stress levels
A lot of people at The Data School seem to have pretty strong perfectionistic tendencies. Please try to let these go as much as possible – even if it is only for this week.
This week is what you make it – don’t set your standards too high. Don’t be a perfectionist. Remember: a dashboard a day is not a recipe for perfection. Know that your dashboards won’t amaze and delight you. This is about getting done what you can in the time allocated.
Don’t stress out. Keep things in perspective – there are no real clients or deliverables, this is just an exercise in stress resistance and time management.
Your mental and physical health is important, so please; sleep, eat and don’t put too much pressure on yourself or others.
Tip 3: Understand the limits
A lot of people say this week is about timeboxing. Though I agree with that statement, I would say that it’s more about understanding limits.
Being able to quickly recognise the limits of the data, the limits of your abilities and the time limits of course. Scale back to what you think is reasonable to achieve in the set time and then scale back some more. Use the Agile “MVP” process – create your Minimum Viable Product and if you have time after that has been created, then you can create something more.
Tip 4: Be flexible
By the afternoon of each day, will probably produce something different to what you imagined in the morning. You will face problems, but you must be flexible in how you deal with them.
Here are some tips for if you’re feeling stuck:
- If the data has nothing much to analyse, then focus on the design. There are lots of fancy visualisations out there.
- Sometimes the “big picture” (whole dataset) is a bit boring, or the findings are obvious. Instead, consider focusing on a subset within the data. Sometimes this is the best way to find an interesting narrative or unique perspective on the data.
Tip 5: Write your blog as you go!
A great tip that I received from coach, Ross Eason, was to blog as you go. Not only does this take the pressure off writing the blog at the end of the day, but it also means you will capture more detail about your process each day. The days go by in a flash and sometimes it is hard to remember the whole process or everything you did in order to get to your final product. Writing as you go means you can document the process and the hurdles as well as the end product.
Tip 6: This is not the end – keep learning!
I know you have almost reached the end of your training with The Data School, but that does not mean you have reached the end of your learning journey or that you are now a “finished product.” There is still so much more to learn.
Things I learnt this week:
- How to make a word cloud
- Using the show/hide button
- Using a condition to create a set – this is something I had been trying to do in calculations, but Tableau does not allow.
- Pivot and stay flexible! Compromise is key!
I hope with these tips in mind, you can weather the storm of stress that is The Data School Dashboard Week. Good luck!