So dashboard week has finally arrived, and with it has come an onslaught of unfamiliar data and five tight deadlines. As both of these things are a) common, and b) horrible, a framework was very much needed. I’ve been following the recommendations that Andy gave me, and decided that as they’re working for me, they may well work for others, too: so why not share them?

Behold! A diagram.

A big cause of stress with unfamiliar data, at least for me, is that I’ll wade right in and want to understand it completely: every column, every row, regardless of relevance. This approach forces you to work ‘inside-out’, in a way: you understand all the surrounding information first, make a  visual plan, and only approach the data once you’ve got these figured out, cherry-picking the bits that fit.

It’s not a complete solution — but it’s efficient. It works for many different circumstances. And it’s also versatile: set a time limit for each section, depending on your deadlines. Even ten or fifteen minutes per stage will get you solid results that you can justify.

Do you use a similar method when faced with a new project? Or something totally different? Maybe you tried this process and got results! Leave a comment below and let me know.