My wife calls what I do procrastinating.
I call it fiddling, tinkering, playing, toying, even editing.
OK, I’m lying to myself.
There are a zillion reasons why people procrastinate when they should be getting a project done.
But I’ve really got only one reason for my problem. And I think a whole lot of people — maybe even you — share it.
Here’s what often holds me back from either launching into a job that must be done, or from finishing a job:
- My belief (an irrational belief, really) that I have to be perfect.
- My fear of making mistakes.
- My attitude that whatever I take a crack at must be done letter perfect — with no errors or inconsistencies.
- My fear of being rejected by clients, customers, even friends because my work isn’t “just right,” whatever that is.
- My belief (again, irrational) that no matter what I try, it’s never “good enough,” whatever that is, to meet my own or others’ expectations.
Now getting over perfectionism can be a colossal hurdle. And it’s not easy to do. I’m not even convinced you can overcome perfectionism once and for all.
But there are a few things you can do to fight perfectionism, and in turn the procrastination that results.
Here’s the deal, though. I use these techniques, but I still haven’t fully conquered perfectionism.
So like me, you must use these methods diligently.
Put your mistakes into context.
After all, there are both big mistakes and little ones. Look at your situation objectively. Did it really matter that your last report for a client contained one misspelled word? Probably not.
Practice being “imperfect.”
Be willing to release work that you worry might be “imperfect.” Most likely, it’s fine. Even more likely, your customer or client won’t consider imperfect what you consider imperfect.
If you practice allowing yourself “imperfection,” you’ll grow more comfortable with it (i.e., you’ll become less unfairly judgmental about your own work).
Become more alert to your tendency toward perfectionism.
Maybe you’re not aware of how widespread your perfection problem is. Become more conscious of your patterns and determine to change them.
Stop looking painstakingly for mistakes. Try to spot all the good contained in your work rather than the bad.
Of course, there are plenty of other tactics for rubbing out the causes of your procrastination. When you get a chance, you might check in at…
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