Allow New Ideas to Proliferate, Take a Moment

“Taking a moment”*, which can mean anything from a 30 minute period of strict meditation to a two-minute session of gazing out the window, is a very helpful practice that should be incorporated into a map professional’s daily routine. Especially if you frequently need to multi-task, exercise your creative muscles, or concentrate on a technical task.**

There’s been a lot of research on the usefulness of these kinds of breaks in recent years. See The Power of Concentration, an article from the NYTimes published yesterday, for a good summary of some of these studies.

Not long ago–maybe 50, 100 years–it would probably have seemed bizarre to focus research on mindfulness and meditation given that information barrage hadn’t infiltrated people’s every waking hour yet. However, it is so important today because of one big problem that most of us who work on computers have: a continuous need to scan the internet when we aren’t focused on other tasks. It’s probably not a long-shot to guess that most people who work on devices all day fill their downtime with facebook, twitter, email, news sites, blogs, and other continuously updated addictions.

It’s not bad to spend most of the day on the computer, of course, it’s just GOOD to add a few minutes of device-free time in to allow for free-form inference and reflection and the concomitant breakthroughs/solutions to tough problems that naturally follow. In fact, its pretty imperative to do so when working out creative solutions for mapping projects. See also the post on taking Mental and Physical Breaks.

*Of course, most of us are also taking a moment today to remember the victims of Friday’s tragedy. The Onion’s satirical article covers the national mood well here (warning: language).

**Yes, that seems to basically cover everything and everyone, so just do it!

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