I can’t help but analyze every part of my life. At this point, it’s deeply ingrained into my psyche. I even jumped on the latest fitness tracking craze to measure my activity level. For those that want to know, I use a Jawbone Up. This is largely because of the easily accessible CSV files to visualize in Tableau, naturally.
Recently, I started thinking about the things I do that affect my Tableau productivity. Here are some of those things that help me to be more productive while getting my viz on in Tableau:
1. Learn Keyboard Shortcut Kung Fu
I love keyboard shortcuts. It makes routine tasks like Undo (ctrl+z) and Save (ctrl+s) instantaneous. If you start using them, it will quickly become addicting. Once you’ve joined the movement, you’ll blow people away as you fly through routine tasks. Just make sure that you explain what you’re doing when you give presentations, it’s rude to leave your shocked and awed audience in the dark. To find out more, check out this Tableau hot keys and shortcuts post by Tiffany Spaulding.
2. Pause Automatic Updates
If you’re working with large and/or slow datasets, think about pausing automatic updates while you build your viz. This stops the visual feedback you get from each change, but it also allows you to make several rapid changes without waiting for each query to finish.
To accomplish this, go to the tool bar. You should see a database icon with a pause symbol on top of it. When you hover over it, the tool tip will say “Pause Automatic Queries.” Click it to pause. Click again to resume updating.
3. Find the Right Soundtrack
This tip will depend largely on you. In scientific studies, there seems to be some back-and-forth about how much music can help with productivity. I think this varies with each person, but there are some general guidelines to the type of music that help with different tasks. For me, I find listening to Jazz music helps when I need to be creative. It’s my preferred soundtrack for dashboard building.
4. Get Organized
Your productivity will get an instant boost if you know where to find your work. I’m sure your company already has standard naming conventions for some things (Database, Tables, Variables), but many of you haven’t given much thought to your Tableau workbooks. I know, I’ve seen them.
Developing a standard method around your workbook metadata will help improve your speed and efficiency. With just a little bit of planning, you’ll be able to find things quicker, understand others’ workbooks easier and create self-documenting files. See this very detailed Tableau metadata post by Charlie Sanders for some further tips.
5. Stand and Deliver
I’m a big fan of using standing desks at work. Beyond the health benefits, I’ve found an improved energy and focus. Before you ask, I don’t stand all day. I do have a couch in my office for when I need to sit, read and contemplate. That said, it feels incredibly good to stand while going through email, presenting on conference calls or rapidly prototyping new visualizations and dashboards.