Time Expectations - My big challenge at the Data School

by Ian Baldwin


We’ve been at the Data School for 12 weeks now and it’s been intense but wholly enjoyable so far. We’ve been learning two new products from scratch in Tableau and Alteryx, we’ve been doing client projects since the second week and there’s been a stream of after work events to attend in the Tableau and Alteryx communities and at the same time there are so many personal projects I want to do with the software. So time management, or more precisely, having realistic time expectations has been one of my biggest challenges. When I want to try something new in Tableau or Alteryx, I can generate a very narrow focus on learning that thing without enough due thought as to how long it will take. Due to my own naivety I sometimes fall into the planning trap of thinking it won’t be that hard and I’ll be done quickly. By the end of it I learn how do some cool stuff but it can take longer than expected.

Time Expectations - My challenge at the Data School

You wont always get the 9 letter word in 30 seconds, aim for something more manageable.

In group projects so far I’ve often had quite a free role to make what I can of the data. As an example I built this quite cool dynamic pipe diagram for attrition reporting but as the rest of the group can attest I had a lot of ups and downs along the way to getting to this point. In the end it was delivered “on time” but at the expense of other jobs that could have been done. If I’d been more thorough in my planning and talked it through with someone else I think I’d have tried something more achievable in the time frame.

Attrition reporting in Tableau - This looks pretty but was a challenge to build

My dynamic pipe diagram made by building up polygons which was harder than I imagined.

Judging my own capabilities is an underdeveloped skill and something that Andy’s Makeover Monday challenges helps me with. Makeover Monday encourages the community to develop our skills and not only Tableau skills but transferable skills like time management and visualisation best practices too. And its in a personal environment where its okay to fail without the pressure to deliver something. For me, a key aspect of the Makeover Monday series is the challenge of doing each makeover in an hour. If you stick to it, it really does make you appreciate how long each part of the analytical and creative processes take. When you break it down there’s getting the data, understanding the data, choosing your key points to take away, reformatting the data and adding calculations if you need to, experimenting with different graph types, choosing which one(s) to go with, building up the dashboard, developing its design style, paring back the formatting to how you like it and then polishing up titles, text and tooltips. Each step takes time and knowing how long that is for you will help avoid disappointment trying to do too much.



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