Perfectionism & Procrastination

If you continue finding yourself locked into being a perfectionist, it will waste a lot of your time and energy. At a certain extent, the more energy you put into making something perfect, the less real productivity you’ll experience.

Everyone has some measure of perfectionism within them. We set high goals for ourselves, and then push to achieve them. We have high personal standards and integrity, and that always makes us want to do our best.

This dedication to perfection helps us get the results we want and enjoy the success that comes with achieving our goals. But perfectionism in an extreme sense has negative repercussions, rather than positive results.

Some examples of extreme perfectionism would be:

  1. Less Efficiency – Sometimes good enough really is good enough. When you’ve completed a given task, but then continue working on it to improve this or that, you lose ten minutes… then an hour, etc. You overthink things to a point where very little additional gets accomplished.
  2. Less Effectiveness – Again with the overthinking. You add small details without stopping to think about whether you need them or not. The project you’re working on may not receive any additional value from your additions. In fact, it may ruin the project or make it less effective. We’ve all experienced a too-cluttered website or a presentation with too much random information packed into a slide. A good rule of thumb is: simple is better.
  3. The “Perfect” Moment – Here’s a tip: there is no perfect moment. It’s not going to come, so the best you can do it get to work on your tasks right now. You can’t wait until you feel like it, or until all the planets align… just do it! This is a big way that procrastination and perfectionism work against you in tandem.
  4. Missing the Forest for the Trees – You can often only see the details, and miss the impact of the larger picture and eventual completion of the goal. You work on smaller details at the expense of the whole project. And when nothing gets done, even though you’ve been “busy”, you wonder what went wrong. Try looking at the overall bigger picture, and achieve a balance between the big picture and the details.
  5. Creating Nonexistent Problems – Worrying about things that really aren’t problems at all is a great way to waste your valuable mental energy. And, it can create an unhealthy diversion from away from the real tasks at hand. It’s a typical procrastination problem and an unhealthy one!
  6. Don’t just take my word for it – it’s science!
    We are probably all familiar with what a bell curve is and looks like.

A bell curve is commonly divided into standard deviations. There are 3+ standard deviations in each curve, where each standard deviation takes the same amount of time/energy to accomplish.
So, in order to reach 70% it’s 1 standard deviation, from 70% up to 95% is the 2nd standard deviation; and the 3rd only brings you brings you from 95% to 99.7%.

With that knowledge, we can see that it will take us the same amount of time to create 3 products/offers at 70% completion, as it will to bring 1 product to 99.7% completion.

In fact, many large companies, like Microsoft or Apple, have been known to publish products at that 70% point, and then make additional refinements and updates as they learn of different bugs or issues. I’m sure you can see why they may take this strategy!

Now, surprisingly, we’re not saying that you should stop being a perfectionist. But you should, however, be aware of when your perfectionist tendencies go overboard. Keep tabs on yourself so you can be honest when you are instead procrastinating by using the excuse of wanting to make something perfect.

Always keep a balance between perfection and productivity, and procrastination will become a thing of the past!

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