Launch, grow, and unlock your career in data

October 25, 2017

Overcoming Burnout, Hexbin Maps and New York City's Urban Forest

I wrote Monday about how I'm suffering from a bit of Makeover Monday burnout. Thank you to all of you who wrote messages of concern and asked how you could help. MM takes A TON of work, many more hours than people realize, which leads to ebbs and flows where I feel either a lack of motivation or a lack of interest. I'm merely in one of those downward cycles.

How do I overcome burnout?

For me, the best way to overcome burnout isn't to stop; that would mean not doing what I love to do. What works for me is to switch to something in my backlog, to work on a project I've been putting off, to learn something new or maybe to practice a technique. This helps re-energize me. 

I can't recommend this strategy to everyone; burnout is tough. Sometimes the right decision IS to stop everything, to decompress, to get away from it all. I've done that before and it works as well. More often than not, though, I get sad when I'm not using Tableau. It's a product that has fundamentally changed my life. I'm an addict.

New York City's Urban Forest

Last night while I was preparing for Workout Wednesday, I had an idea to practice hexbin maps. Why that popped into my head I have no idea, but I went with it. I looked for a dataset that would work well as hexbins. I searched my emails and found this visualisation about trees in New York City. Fortunately NYC makes the location of every tree available here.

Why does this dataset work well with hexbin maps? According to Mapbox:
Binning is a great alternative technique for visualizing density when working with large data sets. 

Creating hexbin maps in Tableau is quite simple. All you have to do is follow this tutorial by Matt Chambers. It can prove a bit tedious to get the size of the bins just right, which is why I chose to use a parameter to speed up my development.

So, burnout temporarily overcome and I got to practice a technique I hadn't used in a while. That's a win win for me! Enjoy!


  1. Andy, it's great to see you taking an active and creative approach to overcoming burnout and it's encouraging to see you speak openly about it.
    I hope the weekend away with the family will also be a chance to switch off a bit and focus on non-screen activities :-). Tableau will be there when you come back.
    Have a great time in Frankfurt!

  2. Great post on sharing your personal experiences and advice on how to overcome burnout. These are wise words to follow. Thanks as always.

  3. Andy, because of your work and all MM community I have gained huge amount of inspiration and good practices of visualizing data. Thank a lot !!!