The last four days have been nothing short of a genuine challenge. Today marks the fifth and final day of Dashboard Week and also the shortest day yet, in terms of how long we had to work on our dashboard. Our task today was to create a dashboard using data on the atmosphere, and its components, including pollutants and the ozone. In this blog I will only spend a short time talking about my dashboard (as we really only had half a day to work on it) and the rest will be a summary and reflection of the week as a whole.
By this stage in the week I was relatively fatigued so I wanted to keep the plan simple and focus on simply completing a dashboard. My initial idea was to supplement the data we had on hand, which included pollutants and ozone over the last couple of years, with bushfire data to measure the effect of the most recent bushfires in Australia. This was going fine, until I brought in the shape files I had sourced from data.gov and realised that there was no way to determine which fires had occurred when. Ever conscious of my dwindling time I decided to abandon ship and try to do something with just the original dataset. I decided the focus of my dashboard would be the ozone levels in Australia and how they relate to other parts of the atmosphere.
Seeing as I didn’t try anything complex or new the resulting dashboard wasn’t particularly difficult to put together. That being said I can’t honestly say I was happy with it. I had to compromise quality and innovation in the face of mental fatigue and time constraints. However, given another chance under the same conditions I wouldn’t do things differently. It was important to finish the task with the resources I had, rather than present an unfinished product. Here is the result for today.
Dashboard Week Reflection
After finishing off Dashboard Week due to how challenging it was (more so than I expected), I think it is fitting to reflect on the week as a whole. It is difficult to convincingly convey just how difficult it actually was; after all, all we had to do was make a dashboard a day. The real challenge didn’t lie in simply creating dashboards and presenting them. What was truly difficult was finishing work in that small timeframe and being happy to put my name to it. I know I wasn’t the only one relieved at Dashboard Week’s conclusion, but I did find it to be a rewarding experience!
So what did I learn throughout the week?
- Challenging yourself with new ways of doing things and innovating your approach is great, but time box it. On Day 2, I tried a couple of new things, but within the time frame this probably was not the right move. If you are going to challenge yourself, make sure you limit it to one thing at a time.
- APIs are excellent data sources as long as you don’t expect them to answer all of your questions. On Day 1, I spent a lot of time trying to work out which parameters would get me the information I wanted from the Spotify API. The reality was, it didn’t exist for the purposes I had in mind, I had to adjust my expectations to meet what it was capable of.
- As you notice your productivity falling it’s important to align your plan accordingly. I probably peaked on Day 3 in terms of my energy and ability to complete work efficiently. After that it was all downhill, I did an okay job of realising this and reducing my workload, but definitely could have managed it better.
- Pick topics you know you’ll enjoy (if given the choice). Everyone works better when they have some form of intrinsic motivation – if you have control over this, then exert that control!
- Quality should be a priority, but if it comes at the cost of a complete product you’re better off compromising in order to deliver something. Often this means delivering less, but maintaining a standard.
This week has proven to be a challenge worthy of its reputation, but it was certainly a worthwhile process. I have completed five dashboards to varying satisfaction, but each was a lesson in how to better approach future tasks. Thank you if you’ve made it through all five blogs; you’re either extremely patient or bored beyond belief! Stay tuned for more (useful) blogs to come!