Perfectionism and Procrastination Busting Tips

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When you’re working on a creative project, it can be very easy to get caught up in getting your work perfect, ignoring deadlines and overlooking the importance of what you are doing. Although aiming to get your work as good as possible is important, especially if it will become a major part of your body of work upon which you will be judged, it is also important to bear in mind that perfection is impossible. This is vital if you want to dodge the horrible spiral of avoiding work which you think can never be good enough, which can lead to extreme forms of procrastination, from watching youtube vidoes of cats sneezing to desperately trying to win just one game of solitaire.

Procrastination can be even worse when using an online CMS such as WordPress as you already have a browser open and so are one click away from a distracting website. The best use of your time is just to get the work done and send it in. But how can you avoid that nagging feeling at the back of your head that it just needs to be that much better?

Trick Number One: Think Statistics 

The key to this trick is to make up numbers. Grade your own work: give yourself a percentage. Then think about how much an extra hour, or two hours’ work would add to your overall grade. Is it worth it? Will it increase your ‘grade’ a massive amount, or just a little? If you decide at this stage that the extra work will be worth it, then do the work. If not, do something more productive with your time.

Trick Number Two: Get Proofread

When you have finished your work, hand it to someone else to look over. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s dreadful, just do it. They will probably find some mistakes or areas where you can improve which you would not have thought of, and furthermore can serve as a little bit of a confidence booster. Your work is probably not nearly as bad as you think, and other people will be able to tell you that, saving you worry and time.

Trick Number Three: Think about what you need 

The important thing is to remember that your work is a means to an end. The end might be to win a project, or it might be to boost your CV. Don’t let yourself get distracted by the one thing you feel ‘must’ be perfect. If there are other areas which you need to concentrate on to meet your goals, then don’t neglect them; see how much improvement you need to make on your work, and if your time could be better spent working on something else then make sure you do so.

Trick Number Four: Think about the future

This adds on to thinking about what you need; now you need to see the even bigger picture. If you are really worried about the quality of your work, think about how irrelevant this project will be in five or ten years’ time. Then do the work!

Trick Number Five: Focus on the body of your work

Sometimes the difficulty in working creatively can be simply getting started. The beginning of your proposal or paper needs some of the most work to look polished and professional – so leave it until you have the time to perfect it. If you begin in the main body of your work, you won’t need to worry about style to such a degree, and you may have a better idea of what to put in the introduction of your work – so you won’t need to spend even more time going back and changing it.

Trick Number Six: Take Little Steps 

Don’t get stressed by trying to do too much. Instead of planning to finish things or doing something ‘perfect’, set yourself small goals. Think about spending a set amount of time on your project uninterrupted, or writing a certain number of words. Make sure they are small: you need to be able to fulfil your goals, and not get disillusioned. By taking these small steps, you know that by the end of the day, you will have achieved something, even if it is not perfect.

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Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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1 Comment on "Perfectionism and Procrastination Busting Tips"

  1. Great post and timely as well. Mine hits, like you said, is getting started. I’ll have a ton of stuff lined up for the day, but sitting down and getting through that first project of the day is always the most difficult. Thanks for the tips, much appreciated.

    [Reply]

    Cherie Reply:

    Thanks for stopping by, Ken. Don’t be a stranger.

    [Reply]

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