My role: Designer
Space: Toronto
Time: May 2018

Has your life come to a point where it becomes a bit too predictable? I definitely felt that when I was new to the workforce. I still consider myself relatively new to it. Working full-time creates a fixed rhythm to my life and it can get a bit dull and boring. It doesn’t allow much room for change and spontaneity. Sometimes, my days would be sprinkled with surprises; this might happen when I accidentally look up and see amazing clouds, or when I am in the office and someone tells a fantastic joke that has everyone roaring with laughter. The surprises aren’t always positive, it can be negative, like getting sick, or not being able to fall asleep at night. Despite my routine life, there is room for randomness. And this is what this handmade viz is about. Here, I show each day as a timeline. A bud represents the disruption in rhythm of my day. If the bud grows upwards, the disruption is positive, and vice versa. The bigger the bud, the larger the disruption. Despite expecting and thinking that I wouldn’t find anything interesting to document when I was collecting data, I was pleasantly surprised at how each day wasn’t predictable

My days are mostly both plain and plane. It’s not always interesting and looks quite flat for the most part. A lot of the smaller disruptions that were negative was when I had to work overtime. Most of the positive disruptions were related to social experiences. For example, on February 7, one of my close friends expressed gratitude in our friendship out of no where. And it was a fantastic feeling. I recently visited my relatives in China and because the size of my family was so large, it was its own community. I started to understand why a lot of my cousins, uncles, and aunts were able to live their lives with so much joy. It was because people were constantly socializing, they will be on their way to buy groceries, bump into a neighbour, talk for a bit, share some news, then move on. They talk to the shop owners as they buy groceries, and they might then bump into a colleague as they head home. If anything, I have been discovering through this viz just how important it is to be with people, to share time and experiences with others. This is one of the things I love about data viz, it presents patterns and it then leaves us humans to create meaning. We then gain insight and we gain knowledge. At this point, we begin to change and hopefully, we grow.

Behind the Scenes

I decided to draw this piece by hand because I really wanted to show the imperfect straight lines. I had the option to create this digitally, but, I often find a straight line drawn on a computer to lack character. It doesn’t show personality and most importantly, it doesn’t have soul. I wanted to express a line that was clearly trying to be straight, but couldn’t because of human error, because of being human. I initially drew this out on a grid paper and laid the white paper on top of the grid paper. The entire process to create this was less than a week- this is record time! I collected the data in February of this year and I didn’t know if I should’ve shared this project. But, one of the realizations I have recently come to recognize is to not take each day for granted. We do have a time limit in our life, and I have been asking myself “how am I spending each second so that if I was to suddenly pass away tomorrow, I will leave with no regrets?”. Although some of my days feel like they are on loop, I still try in my own way to make the most of it where there is room for randomness.