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Decision Fatigue: The Impact On Artist Productivity.

Have you ever experienced Decision Fatigue when working on your art or craft? It happens to me all the time, but it wasn't until recently that I figured out what it was and why it was happening and how this was affecting my work in the studio.

Pam Yellow Butter Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman

In the past year, I began to recognize that I only had a couple of productive hours to make decisions about the layers in my Flower pins, but didn't understand what was happening.  I'd just get to a point that nothing would work out. Then I'd come back the next day and layer after layer would "come together," but only for a couple of hours.

Pencils sculpture based on a bell curve about education by Harriete Estel BermanIt was happening when I was working on the curve of the pencils in the sculpture Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin. I just didn't understand what was wrong with me.

It continues to happen, but now I know why and how to work more effectively in the studio.

Tu Bishvat contemporary seder plate by Harriete Estel BErman is constructed from recycled tin cans.Now I am working on a new piece of Judaica (see the whole portfolio of work in progress), and many decisions to make about the gold strips.

Tu Bishvat Seder plate in progress by Harriete Estel BErman is constructed from recycled tin cans.After about four hours, if more decisions are required, I can't make much progress. It is like slogging through mud.

 

Does this ever happen to you?


Well this phenomena has a name, "decision fatigue." The New York Times published an article "Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?".  It is worth reading.

Experiment after experiment proves that the brain can only continue making well reasoned decisions for a limited amount of time. Each and every person has a finite store of mental energy for decisions whether it is exerting self-control (e.g. resisting M & M's), purchasing, test taking, or (for artists and makers) making aesthetic decisions. 

Artists and makers usually make a lot of creative decisions when working in the studio. I am suggesting that if we recognize this limitation in our studio time, we might reschedule our day to work more effectively. We may have six, eight, or even up to 12 hours of physical work in our body, but maybe only four hours of substantive decision making.

Think smart and work smart for your most productive day.

Harriete

Tu Bishvat Seder Plate by Harriete Estel Berman in progress

 

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