My month without Tableau

Hey #datafam,

It’s said that “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  This week, I realized I had gone an entire month without using Tableau!  This was not something I did intentionally as part of some new “data cleanse” diet fad, but rather just a combination of circumstances coming together.  As it hit me that it had really been that long, I thought I’d write a quick post about what I learned during my accidental Tableau fast.

First of all, how does this come about?  I mean, I try to help on forums, participate in the community challenges and I AM an analytics consultant by trade.  However, I was recently on a 4-week project that was strategy intensive and didn’t require any physical work in Tableau.  My typical workday time in Tableau was out.  Then, winter decided to make a late but grand entrance to Minnesota, with frigid temperatures and what is already the 4th snowiest February on record with only 2 weeks gone by.  What that means is that I have spent an unusual amount of my normal free time moving snow from my driveway, sidewalk, roof, etc.  I was also busy preparing to take the Alteryx Designer Advanced certification test, so my leftover personal development time was focused there.

Added all up, I really just didn’t have time for Tableau.  And it started to make me a little nuts when I finally realized how long it has been.  But, in the spirit of reflection, here is what I learned from my accidental Tableau diet.

You can get a little rusty – I grabbed this week’s #MakeoverMonday data and built a little viz.  It definitely took me a minute to settle back in and think about how I really wanted to approach this data set, but I did eventually find a groove.  Not my best viz, but it’s OK and I managed to have a little fun too!

BUT you don’t forget it all – This week I was helping with an “office hours” session and was able to help someone debug a nested LoD problem they were having.  So I didn’t have to start over.

Broadening my horizons was rewarding – Prepping for the Alteryx Designer Advanced certification taught me a lot, and motivated me to keep exploring some aspects of the tool.  The investment in learning these new skills, even at the expense of some Tableau joy, is still a net win.

You just can’t always fit it all in, and that’s OK – There is SO much going on around Tableau at any given time, and it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out.  But there’s also Boy Scouts with my son, or practicing for the daddy-daughter number at this year’s dance recital, or getting our gymnast to her PT appointments as she tries to get back to competing with her team.  Oh, and did I mention that it’s measurably snowed practically every day in February?!  In short, life happens and it should come first.

I really do love Tableau, though – Here’s the thing, it still dawned on me that I hadn’t used it and I started to get this urge to build something.  I was jonesing a little.  I’ve used a lot of software in my lifetime, but there aren’t many that I feel compelled to use.  It’s like when I look at my Martin guitar and think it just NEEDS to be played.  There’s this powerful draw to Tableau for me, and I’m excited to get back in the groove.

How about you?  Have you ever had an extended break (intended or unintended) from a tool that made you really appreciate it?

Until next time,




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