When GIS Becomes a Chore

River in Colorado

I just got back from a week-long trip to one of the last corners of Colorado without smoke filling the air. It was a great time of rock hunting, gold panning, hiking and just spending time with family.

In a typical work-week I will be on the computer for around eleven hours a day, however, throughout the entire week in Colorado I never went on a computer. On the drive back home the realization of how much I did not want to go back to it hit me.
It’s not that GIS work or following blogs and social media are not enjoyable activities because they are. The mix of logical problem solving through analysis and the creativity of cartography are hard to beat in any career field. I enjoy designing useful tools and providing engaging and helpful products for my employer. I also have a good time writing RyanRandom.com and keeping up with other blogs and Twitter.
The problem is that my job and online activites at home have become either boring and routine or overly time consuming. It is easy to fall into the routine of data maintenance at the day job which can make it seem boring or monotonous. Of course there really is data to maintain but my workplace is an environment that encourages innovation and learning. I need to capitalize on this.
When I get home I feel the need to throw myself into extra online activities (perhaps to compensate for my lack of interest at the office?). But what I usually end up doing is reading blogs more than writing them or just lurking places instead of being productive. When I do this I am wasting time that could be spent better elsewhere like with my family, learning a new skill or even getting enough rest.
So what can be done about a situation like this? I came up with the two lists below to help. The first list of five actions will be applied to my work situation. The second list of five actions are things that can be done at home to still be productive without being destructive.

On the Job:

  1. Find new angles to attack problems and try to incorporate new tools that can accomplish the task in a different way. There is no reason to be bored doing what I am doing even if some of my tasks are repetitive.
  2. Improve my cartography skills. No matter how effective your maps seem today, there is always room for improvement. There is a ton of great advice out there on improving cartography skill like GIS Cartography: A Guide to Effective Map Design by Gretchen Peterson.
  3. Start scripting and automating more with Python. Also, learn more programming languages that could make working easier and more fun.
  4. Participate more in the GIS community to gain insight and help from others.
  5. Utilize blogs and Twitter to solve more technical problems rather than stewing over them longer.

At Home:

  1. Put God and family first when I get home. The kids will only be the age they are now, right now. Spending time doing what matters most should be my priority; if it’s online, it does not matter most.
  2. Spend less time on the computer but accomplish more. Become more productive.
  3. Make goals before sitting down to work and get off the computer when done.
  4. Move slower and stop trying to do so much. You do not need to wear your body and mind out to be productive.
  5. Get more sleep and exercise.
Does anybody else suffer from work boredom and self-overwork at home? What are some of your solutions? I would love to hear them.

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