James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.

thoughts + feelings

73: “Got a lot of people tryna drain me of my energy”

This week’s essay: “Got a lot of people tryna drain me of my energy”

What should I make for breakfast? What should I make for lunch? Should I ride my bike or take the train to work? Okay, what train do I have to take to get there on time? Should I finish this project I started on Friday or tackle my email inbox? Oh shit, someone is sending me an instant message, should I answer it now or ignore it? Well fuck, now 3 people are Lyncing me. Why the hell is my Outlook dinging? Should I eat my lunch at my desk, outside, or workout during my lunch hour? Shit, shit, shit, It’s already 2pm and I’m already exhausted. By now, I’d be a zombie, shuffling myself across the street to the nearest Walgreens to buy the largest bag of Hot Cheetos and shoveling them into my mouth in a state of misery and then setting up an Instacart to deliver groceries when I get home because, convienence culture. Congratulations corporate America, you’ve got someone to keep the economy going thanks to exhaustion.

This was a typical day for me a month ago when I had a day job. I wondered why I always fell into the largest state of exhaustion so early in the day where my cognitive state would be wiped into oblivion, leaving me a mindless bag of flesh saying yes to whatever came my way. My checking account would dwindle thanks to retail therapy, my energy levels to emotional eating, or cognitive energy by signing up for whatever dumb social media thing was the new hotness (shout out to you Ello).

The latest episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Cortex, talked about the state of decision fatigue. If you are unfamiliar with the term, desicion fatigue is the “deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual, after a long session of decision making.” It’s the reason why it doesn’t matter if you are at a Whole Foods or a bodega, all the impulse buys are at the register. You spend so much time overwhelmed at deciding what to buy during your trip, you think “of course I’ll pick up some M&Ms and a copy of People while waiting in line because why the fuck not.”

I’ve been battling desicion fatigue by saying no a lot more. No to things that don’t excite me when I think about them. No to things I will regret when I place them in my calendar. It’s why I try to schedule every hour of my day, no matter how dumb it makes me look. If there’s any opportunity where I don’t have to make a decision and save my energy for the important stuff, I’m all for it. I try to do the biggest tasks that require the most energy of my mind at the beginning of my day, and then slowly start to do the least demanding things until the end of the day where I can gladly sit in front of Netflix and watch reruns of The Office. I know I’m not perfect, there’s been days I’ve slipped up, and this overthinking is a way to battle my own internal anxieties, but it makes me feel a little better and that’s all that matters.

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What did I find interesting this week?

★ Some days I hitch my bike on the front of the nearest bus and just ride it when I want to chill. I enjoyed reading this ode to the bus.

★ I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes social networks stressful to use vs. what makes them a delight. Here’s an argument that Instagram is the best of the bunch.

★ Like Luke, I’ve been using an Apple Watch for a couple of months, and I agree with his sentiments about the place of wearble technology and these suggested UI changes.

★ Why Magic Mike XXL is closer to a musical than anything else.

★ Lastly check out this interview with the homie, LA-based Laura Helen Winn, on zine making.

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What’s coming up?

★ Cher and I moved our podcast, Open Ended, into a weekly format! This coming Wednesday will feature Samantha Bailey of the web-series, You’re So Talented. You can check out last week’s episode, ‘Eating Alone at Subway’, on our freshly redesigned websiteiTunes, or in any other podcast player. Be sure to rate us on iTunes and send us a donation to keep our lights on.

★ CHGO DSGN: WHEREVER show at LVL3 in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood is up until August 16th. I’m showing a piece with a bunch of other talented folks.

★ The group exhibition, Three the Hard Way, is up until August 23rd at The Logan Center in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood with Ayana Contreras and David Leggett.

★ I will be giving an artist talk on Wednesday, August 5th at The Logan Center about the Three The Hard Way exhibition. 

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Special shout out to the 7 supporters this week:

Jayson, Subi, the Revision Path podcast, Allyson, Will, Chad, and Saya.

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Thanks for reading, and see you next week.

-James

James T. Green