Decision Fatigue: The Impact On Artist Productivity.
October 15, 2011
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.
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.
It 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.
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.
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 phenomenon 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.
This post was updated on February 11, 2022.