Data Management Tips and Video Game Suggestions for a Less Stressful End of Your Semester!


We’re certainly getting to that hectic time of the semester where deadlines are encroaching, and we might be struggling in our attempt to manage everything (I know that’s definitely where I am right now!). As I’ve done in past issues of Tartan Datascapes, I want to share some practical data management tips that are relatively easy to incorporate into your school/research workflow, while not taking up too much of your time so you can concentrate on blazing through your deadlines! These tips can help you keep your files and data more organized and clear, which means you can spend less time trying to track down where you downloaded an article, which folder contains your data, etc., and devote more time and brain space to your other endeavors. I’ve organized these into three main sections depending on how much time you would be willing to devote to data management in a week (5, 10, and 15 minutes), each with practical tips you can try out! And, because I’m a Data, Gaming, and Popular Culture Librarian, I end this post with some shameless recommendations for cozy and de-stressing video games that you might also consider adding to your life as a way to balance out end-of-semester stress.

5 Minutes a Week

Clean out Your Downloads Folder!
In any given time period, you may find yourself downloading a great deal of images, articles, data, etc. throughout the course of your class and/or research, which can lead to a growing Downloads folder on your local computer. Personally, when I am working on my research I often need to open up this folder and find something I previously downloaded, which can be a cumbersome process if I’ve got hundreds of files to sift through! This is time that I could be spending on my research itself, and it takes up that precious brain space that can be hard to come by at the end of a semester when we’re feeling stretched thin! To avoid this/lessen this, you can devote five minutes a week to cleaning out your Downloads folder and getting rid of any files you no longer need, and if you need the files, moving them to another location on your computer or in your preferred storage location.

10 Minutes a Week

Clean out Your Downloads Folder and Do a File Name Check!
In addition to keeping your Downloads folder tidy, a nice way to tidy up your files and data without spending a great deal of time on it is checking up on the file names you are using for the digital files you download or create. Especially in the case of academic articles, you may notice that the downloaded files often have confusing filenames with a lot of letters and numbers that don’t tell you much about what is in the file. Or, you may download a data file with a file name like “file.csv” or “data.csv,” which is also not useful for understanding the contents of the file! As was the case with navigating through a messy Downloads folder, trying to sift through a bunch of files with unhelpful file names takes up a lot of precious brain space! A way you can avoid this is by devoting some time each week to checking the file names of data and files saved on your computer or other storage location, such as Google Drive. When you look at the file names, do you have a clear idea of what information is held in the file? Is anything unclear? Take some time to change up any file names that could be more clear and concise. And for tips on good file naming habits, check out our Data Management for Research LibGuide!

15 Minutes a Week

Clean out Your Downloads Folder, Do a File Name Check, and Write Down What you Do!
In addition to keeping tidy file names and a clean Downloads folder, a helpful data management technique you can implement is writing documentation, or, writing down what you do! This is essentially the process of journaling the steps you take to complete your research, or class assignments/projects. Why would this be important? Well, we often have to repeat or replicate something we’ve already done before. For example, let’s say your instructor asks you to create a graph using the software program Tableau, and after you turn in the assignment, they ask you to revise certain portions of the graph. If you didn’t have a clear recollection of how you originally created this graph, this could be incredibly frustrating to try and recreate! Taking the time to write down the steps you took to create the graph will make the revision process much easier. And, we’ve got more tips for you on writing good documentation if you’d like to create a more robust process for keeping track of what you do!

So, give these tips a try and let us know how it goes! We’re always here to help you think more about the data and file management processes that can enhance your experience in coursework, conducting research, and just being awesome at CMU!

And, as a video game enthusiast, I wanted to take some time to share with you all some cozy, wholesome games that might bring some moments of relaxation to you during this busy time! I often turn to video games when I am stressed, although some can be a bit more stress-inducing than others (I’m looking at you, Dark Souls….). Here’s three games that offer more of a cozy gaming experience that might bring some comfort to you during these stressful times!

Unpacking - known in the games industry as a “zen puzzle game,” this is a cozy game about unpacking your possessions in a new home, reliving comforting memories.

Coffee Talk - a cozy, relaxed game experience where you make various coffee creations for your shopgoers, all while learning about their lives and trials and tribulations.

Tsuki’s Odyssey - this worldbuilding game allows you to decorate a home, build friendships, and interact with the cute, cozy environment of Mushroom Village.

Best of luck with all of your goals, commitments, and tasks for the end of this semester, and remember that you can always request support from the CMU Libraries Data Services team through our webform!

by Hannah Gunderman, Data, Gaming, and Popular Culture Librarian

Feature image by Alisa Anton on Unsplash.