Sometimes it can be challenging to let go of perfectionism. You may not even think it is something that you should let go of. I can definitely relate. When I was in early high school, my home economics teacher told me I was a perfectionist. At the time, we were learning how to sew and making aprons.
After stitching a seam, we would have to take it up to her and show her so that she could give us feedback. She told me my seem was good, although she pointed out where it could be a little better. She said that it was good enough that I did not have to rip it out and redo it. I went back to my seat and proceeded to rip it out and redo it. When I showed it to her again, she laughed and said, “I can see you are a perfectionist.”
At the time, I considered this to be a good thing and took it as a compliment. Over the years, my perfectionism held me back. It hindered my ability to get things done or sometimes even start them. It destroyed any attempts at effective time management and led to an abundance of procrastination. I realized I had to let go of perfectionism if I wanted to be more productive.
What is a perfectionist?
A perfectionist is someone who has to have things done perfectly. Although this may not sound like a bad thing, perfectionists can experience more stress than someone who is not a perfectionist. Not only that but when it comes to time management, perfectionism will work against you.
Dictionary.com defines perfectionism as “a personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less.” If this sounds like you, here are some strategies you can use to let go of perfectionism for good.
1. Be aware that it is alright not to do it all.
People sometimes think of multi-tasking as being a strength. But multi-tasking is just the ability to do several things poorly all at once. This is something that is often very frustrating for a perfectionist. Therefore, forget about multi-tasking all together. Try to focus on one thing at a time. Do whatever is right in front of you, and finish that task before going on to another. Be kind to yourself; you do not have to accomplish everything in one day.
2. Aim for good enough, not perfect.
Be aware when you are not satisfied until something is perfect. If you find yourself spending more time on a task than you intended, chances are you are striving for perfection. Know that good enough is better than not finished at all. It is about progress, not perfection.
Sometimes, perfectionism will even hinder us from starting a project. But if you start a project with the attitude that it only has to be good enough and not perfect, you will be much more likely to begin in the first place.
3. Give all of your tasks a time limit.
This is a good rule of thumb for anyone to follow whether you are a perfectionist or not. Doing so will increase the effectiveness of your time management.
It can feel overwhelming when looking at everything you have to do as a whole. If you break done each task and give it a time limit, it will feel much more manageable. For example, if you have a project that you need to complete in two weeks and you will need 40 hours to complete it, you can break it down into five hours per day. You will also want to figure in time for interruptions. You can read about the best ways to handle interruptions here.
Your goal is to finish each task within the allotted time and remember number 2 above. If the allocated time for the job has expired, ask yourself if it is good enough. If it is good enough, move on to your next task. Remember, you are no longer striving for perfection. This may feel uncomfortable at first, but remember it is for the greater good. Good enough is better than not finished at all. You can use this timeboxing schedule to set a limit on the time you will spend on each task.
4. Don’t schedule your tasks back to back.
Mental exhaustion can be more draining than physical fatigue. It is best to give yourself some time between tasks where your mind can relax, even if it is just for a few minutes. Like your body, your brain needs a break every so often. In between all of the tasks in your to-do list, take a break and do something enjoyable or even nothing at all.
5. Create separate to-do lists for home and work and look them over often and cut them down.
Most people have entirely too many things on their to-do list. As a perfectionist, you may often want to put down more on your list than what is currently necessary or possible for you to complete on any given day. First, separating them into work-related tasks and home-related tasks will provide you with a much clearer picture of what needs to be done in both areas. Be realistic about what you will be able to accomplish in any given time period.
You do not want to set yourself up for failure by trying to accomplish more than possible, given the time available. It is better to cut your list down, and if you end up having additional time, you can complete other tasks that are not currently imperative. This way, you will feel better about getting something “extra” done instead of feeling bad about yourself for failing to complete your list.
Letting go of perfectionism will decrease your stress, allow you to accomplish more, and avoid procrastination. Remember, it is all about progress, not perfection. Something is better than nothing. Give the five strategies above a try and see if you can let go of perfectionism for good. Get more time management strategies that are sure to help you be more productive and get more done here.
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