Perfectionism is a psychological characteristic that makes you want to do everything in a perfectly orderly manner. There are a lot of people who consider themselves perfectionists, and everything they want to do should be just perfect.
Being a perfectionist may seem to offer a number of benefits such as being more organized and having an eye for detail, which in many professions is very important.
However, such a trait has its drawbacks. Perfectionism can also hamper your productivity in a number of ways.
When driven by a compulsion to make everything perfect, you are often unable to stay productive or feel satisfied with what you do. So here are the five reasons why perfectionism destroys your productivity and what you can do about it.
People who believe things must be done only if they can be done perfectly often end up procrastinating their work. They wait for the “perfect moment” to begin work. However, that perfect moment often does not arrive, resulting in the destruction of your productivity.
Additionally, there are people who wait for their “stars to align” before they can begin a task. This can also be dangerous for your productivity levels. Delaying your tasks at hand in pursuit of perfection results in your losing out in this highly competitive world.
The perfect circumstances under which to do a task will never arrive, causing you to leave the task incomplete. If you keep delaying your work, you will end up doing nothing or next to nothing.
This will put you in a frame of mind where procrastination doesn’t seem like a bad thing, which will result in even more work being delayed. Such a cycle is never good for your productivity and often results in dire consequences for your career. By not attempting perfection, you will be able to do more with less, enjoy your life more, have more free time, and be more satisfied with what you do. This will also lead to greater self-esteem.
In the quest for perfectionism, you often kill your innovative ideas. This results in a negative impact on your productivity. If perfectionism is impeding your creative self, how will you improve the standard of your work?
You may spend an awful lot of time brainstorming a new idea. But your urge for perfection results in most of these ideas being binned, simply because they are seemingly not perfect enough!
In this race to be perfect, you possibly lose out on good ideas that would have been effective.
Also, rejecting all of your ideas often leads to a drop in confidence, which is never good. It further affects your productivity, resulting in low output or even a complete lack of output. This can be extremely dangerous for your career, since you are not able to perform to the best of your abilities. By accepting some imperfections, you will be able to keep more innovative ideas in your head without worrying about small details. It will help you see a bigger picture and make your life more enjoyable.
After all that time invested in brainstorming, the ideas you just generated may be perfect, as seen by others.
But unfortunately, if you are a perfectionist, you will never stop making small changes and picking details that bother you. This shows that perfectionism is such a broad term that can be interpreted in different ways by different people. What you see and what others see are often different things.
What is perfect for you may not be perfect for someone else. It is a better strategy to go with the idea that you feel is a good one and then work according to the reviews you receive from others. This will keep you from constantly worrying about the quality of your work. If it is accepted by critics or your colleagues, it must be good enough even if you think more changes would make it even better.
This way, you can continue to improve the quality of your output and, at the same time, be more efficient in terms of the time invested in a particular task.
Too often, perfectionists rely on their own definitions of perfection, which is often stricter compared to the general view, and this results in constant working and reworking on the same thing.
That way, your productivity goes down the drain, and you lose your precious time. Being a perfectionist may still not make you perfect in the eyes of others.
In the quest for perfection, if you focus too much on every single detail, you are wasting your time. You’re also hampering your own productivity.
Instead, it is a better strategy to focus on the overall quality of your work. Running after perfectionism will make you frustrated to no end, since you will always look to make every single detail of your work seem perfect.
Perfectionism can also affect your interpersonal relationships. For instance, if—aiming to be perfect—you end up devoting all your time to your work, you hardly get any time to spend with your loved ones. This results in fractured relationships.
At the same time, it has a grave impact on your productivity, since you are spending too much time on a simple task when more time could be freed up to spend with loved ones or on fun activities.
If you keep rejecting your own thought process in the race for perfection, this rejection will only hinder your own self-worth. And once you get into the rut of feeling worthless, all your ideas, thoughts, and productive mechanisms are thrown down the drain.
Feeling worthless leads to missing work deadlines. This turns into an endless cycle of despising yourself and your own work.
Once you start to feel miserable about your work and your thoughts, the feeling compounds very quickly, and it may even result in depression.
As you see, perfectionism can result in reduced productivity, which may hurt your career and your self-esteem. In order to avoid this, keep in mind that although striving for excellence is admirable, caution is needed. If you do not let things be finished unless they are perfect, you will end up having low productivity and failing at your work in spite of good intentions.
By not attempting perfection, you will start noticing other things that you did not consider before. This will open up new ways and new solutions for you, resulting in greater innovativeness. It will also reduce stress and make your work more enjoyable.
Anna Clarke is the owner of online writing company 15 Writers. She is a successful entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in both freelancing and academic writing industries, specialising in business, economics, finance, marketing, and management.