The week that is famous for bringing out the best (It’s not uncommon for a DSer to achieve Viz of the Day during dashboard week) and worst (Nick DS10 we’re looking at you) in people at TIL, has arrived. Dashboard week is (as the name suggests) a week at the Data School where a cohort must complete data-prep, a dashboard and a blog post before 5pm. Monday is the easiest day as the morning is free for work on the data prep whilst from now we will be presenting our work back to the rest of the cohort prior to commencing the day. Andy likes to joke that he does it to be evil (and if you catch him in a really reflective mood he is happy to go into the childhood trauma that has reduced him to such sadistic rituals as dashboard week), however, joking aside, it’s designed to teach DSers how to get stuff done. Simply put: it’s an exercise in planning and ignoring perfectionism.

Today we had to collect our own data using the Star Wars API, clean the data and then produce a dashboard. If you’ve been reading my blogs then you may already know that the creative side of the DS is something I struggle with. If someone tells me what they want out of project then I’m fine but as soon as I’m left to figure out what I want to do with a data set I get a bit lost. I’m also terrible at planning and knowing when to let something go and move (swiftly) on. and Consequently, my main aim for the Monday of dashboard week was simply to get everything done and identify weaknesses to work on over the course of the week.

Here’s what I struggled with today:

  • I spent waaaaaay too long on the data prep because I didn’t get my scope right and didn’t plan out what I wanted my data to look like (it’s not just the actual viz that needs to be planned if you are sourcing your own data)
  • Having spent all that time on the data prep I spotted a mistake in some of the extra data I collected and then didn’t use it. Had I planned out my scope first this wouldn’t have been an issue. This meant a lot of my time today was wasted.

What I’m pleased with about today:

  • Despite messing up with respect to planning and time management I still produced something and got everything done. I am by no means proud of the work I’ve produced but if anything that could maybe be a good thing. I do need to stop being such a perfectionist as in this line of work it is debilitating rather than a good thing.

The data today was really cool and I’m disappointed with myself that I didn’t produce something cool with it. My dash is extremely basic! In order to produce a better dashboard tomorrow, I’m going to plan everything. If Andy makes us collect our own data then I want to have an idea of the questions I would like to answer before I start manipulating the data. I can then clean and prepare the data to suit. I want to plan and produce my viz prior to starting (including time boxing). I also want to try a new chart type.

This is an important week for me as I think it ought to challenge me in all the right ways. I’m looking forward to dashboard week bringing out the best in me!