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  • Writer's pictureLucy

Working 9 to 5 -- NOT!


Do you remember the 1980 film "9 to 5" starring Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, and Lily Tomlin? Or maybe you remember the song by the same name written and performed by Dolly Parton?

Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin'

Barely gettin' by, it's all takin' and no givin'

They just use your mind and you never get the credit

It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it


Both the movie and the song are light hearted yet dark comedies about the absurdity of the modern workplace.


Patrick Fogerty wrote in 2022:


Although promoted upon its release as a screwball comedy, 9 to 5 is actually a sly and smart black comedy that takes aim squarely at the corporate environment and the marginalization of the women in it, and that's one of the reasons the movie remains relevant today.


This means that as far back as 1980 it was evident that the 8 hour work day 5 days a week wasn't working...for a LOT of reasons. In the 30 years since then there have been scientific studies that support that observation.


In fact, and this is especially true for artists, the amount of time spent actually creating something is much less that 8 hours per day. Lizzie Wade wrote about this for WIRED in a piece titled "The 8-Hour Workday Is a Counterproductive Lie". In it she talks about what productivity guru Cal Newport calls “deep work.”


Deep work, which requires complete focus and pushes us to our intellectual and creative limits, is vital to many of our jobs and also our happiness. After engaging in deep work, you feel satisfied and proud. But it’s really hard to stay in that state of intense concentration for more than three or four hours a day. So if deep work is the most important part of your job, but you’ve also committed to yourself to working eight-hour days, you’re basically doomed to spend the other four to five hours on busywork and clicking around the internet.


For me, painting is "deep work" and after being so singularly focused in the studio for 3-4 hours I'm tired.


Proud for sure! But tired.


And some days I don't get to do "deep work" at all.


Why? Because the other piece of this artist work day puzzle is that being an artist requires being in a state of self-actualization.


Remember Maslow's hierarchy of needs? It's an idea proposed by American psychologist Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation" in the journal Psychological Review. It asserts that we each have a set of basic needs that must be met and once those are met we can reach self-actualization.


dictionary.com defines self-actualization as: "the achievement of one's full potential through creativity, independence, spontaneity, and a grasp of the real world."



That's a pretty tall order!


Some days I get caught up in the lower sections with stuff like grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, doctors appointments, paying bills, connecting with my husband, getting exercise, meeting up with friends, processing rejections from art submissions, researching, submitting to new shows, etc. All of which keeps me from that top section of self-actualization and creation.


According to the Wikipedia entry on this topic, Maslow himself said "self-actualisation ... rarely happens ... certainly in less than 1% of the adult population."The fact that "most of us function most of the time on a level lower than that of self-actualization" he called the psychopathology of normality.


This all means that my creative ebb and flow is NORMAL and that not forcing myself to work 8 hours a day in the studio may even be HEALTHY.


Personally it also means that I'm not going to beat myself up over how many hours a day I paint. Instead I'm going to focus on getting my basic needs met and then be grateful that I have an opportunity to create. After all, not many people do. ❤️



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