Every day takes too much thought. – Gwen Meharg
Gwen left this comment in our Art Career Success System private group. I was struck by her insight because I had been reading about this at the time. “Decision fatigue” is a real phenomenon in contemporary society.
According to researchers, we make over 200 decisions per day about food alone. Just food decisions! I don’t know about you, but all of these decisions wear me out.
As an example, I spent 3 months last fall researching espresso machines – dreaming of holding the perfect cup of coffee while still in my jammies. But I could never click the button to buy.
My husband took me out of my misery. He decided on one, bought it, wrapped it, and put it under the tree. Best. Gift. Ever. No decision (on my part) was required.
Don’t get me started on making travel reservations. I can't stand to make plane reservations or to find a hotel. What if I book “the wrong” flight or land at the wrong airport? Don't laugh. I recently did this when I was confused about a small airport name, and it cost me a lot of extra driving time.
I contend that we’re happier when we have fewer decisions to make, and that we’re better with the important decisions if we don’t spend time on the little ones. That’s why I’m encouraging you to create routines, automate as much as you can, and turn repeated tasks into systems – so you don’t wear out your decision motor.
What can you do without thinking? Consider the following.
Organizing Your Time
Preparing for your day.
There’s a better way to start your day than jumping out of bed and checking email messages before doing anything else. It’s worse yet if you’re checking email while still in bed.
Develop a morning routine that sets the tone for the entire day.
Ending your day.
There’s no better way to get a good night’s sleep than to create space between your work, chores, and hectic evening. Here are some suggestions:
- Plan the next day, making sure you’ve captured all of your to-dos.
- Step away from all digital screens at least one hour before going to bed.
- Meditate or journal.
Sales of Art or Services
Sending thank-you emails.
When someone signs up for your list or one of your classes, they should receive an email with your gratitude. Set up autoresponders in your sales process to take care of this for you.
Suggestion: Subscribe yourself to make sure you know what they're getting. Even if it’s automated, you still want it to feel personal.
Responding to donation requests.
Every artist should have a policy for handling requests for donations of their art that triggers subsequent steps.
You receive a request, and, because you have a policy in place, you send a standard reply instead of spending time deciding what to say.
Completing a work of art.
There are certain things that must be done when you finish a work. You sign it, give it a title, add it to your inventory, and photograph it.
What else is part of your routine after a work is finished? Write your procedure down and refer to it after you complete a new work.
Following up with someone who buys a piece of art from you.
When someone buys a piece of art, when and how do they next hear from you? And then what? And then what? Turn it into a system so that you don’t waste time and energy trying to choose how you should stay in touch.
Is your system different if they buy online than if they buy in person?
Packing and shipping your art.
When I used to receive online orders for hard copies of my book, they were automatically sent to my assistant on the other side of the country who prepared the shipping labels. We could go online, print the labels, and ship.
It was a small step in the process, but it saved loads of time.
What part of your packing and shipping can you automate or do without thinking?
Promoting a class, workshop, or other program.
If it’s your first time to teach or lead, write down everything you do to promote your teaching. Do the same for subsequent events. You will soon have the framework for how you promote in the future.
Sure, they’ll be tweaked each time, but there will be numerous steps that don’t require a lot of brainpower.
Lucky you! Your finances can be automated in many ways. For example:
- Contributions to your retirement or savings account
- Notifications for low balances
- Quarterly tax payments
- Payments on a credit card
- Paychecks to assistants
Do you have all of these set up to help you manage your money and save effort?
There is an endless supply of tasks that you can systematize and automate to lessen the negative impact of decision fatigue.
What do you do without even thinking? What can you do without thinking?