3 tips to overcome perfectionism

Not perfect? Don’t Bother..

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I’m a recovering perfectionist.

There, I’ve said it.

Why recovering?

Well, simply because I still have to watch I don’t slip into the debilitating, productivity wrecking indulgence of this weakness.

I’ve made myself ill through the stress created by perfectionism and I don’t intend to return there.

Perfectionism is a trait that can prevent you even getting started on a task, or result in you labouring over the completion of a task, project or report for a disproportionally long time, just to get it absolutely right.  Try these two tactics:

1.    Start catching yourself doing it. 

The first and most important step is to start recognising that you are doing this and being honest about it.  Is it really having high standards?  Is it really because is MUST be spot on?  Some projects, granted, that will be the case.  But everything?  Seriously – I would suggest that most of your work (80% – see the 80:20 rule below) doesn’t require it.  Be bold – be hones t and be productive.

2.    Practice imperfection; be sloppy.  

It might sound just plain wrong, but this is a recognised tool in the therapists’ kit when helping people suffering from anxiety arising out of perfectionism.  Deliberately set out to complete imperfect, even sloppy work (clearly not in areas where it will have a negative impact on either you or your team).  Choose lower priority areas – low level emails for example.

3.     Remember the 80:20 principle.  

In short, for perfectionists, remember that your 80% standard is probably another non-perfectionists’ 100% standard.  Don’t grind yourself into the ground (losing time in the process) trying to get from 80% to 100% standard, when 70-80% standard is ‘good enough.

This may create some anxiety at first, but stick with it, start small and develop the habit.  The rewards of greater productivity and sense of freedom will more than compensate.

Keep an eye out for the next blog.

Dave Algeo
Motivational Speaker on resilience and men's mental health.

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