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How to Kick Perfectionism to the Curb for Better Productivity

Change your mindset and redirect your focus to kick perfectionism to the curb and experience greater, healthier productivity

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Today’s world celebrates people who accomplish their goals. When other people complete projects and cross finish lines, everyone cheers on their hard work and dedication. It’s great to have that kind of talent, but it often leaves perfectionists struggling to keep up.

Added pressure to show off your achievements may decrease your ability to finish your work. All you can think about are the fine details, the looming assignments and the competitive strain on your energy. It’s exhausting, but not something you have to struggle with permanently.

Check out how to kick perfectionism to the curb for better productivity in your work or personal life. With the right tips, you can overcome the urge to make every effort perfect and accomplish more than ever before.

Recognize the Causes and Effects

Sometimes perfectionism is part of someone’s personality and other times it’s a habit they can’t break. It all depends on who you are. Think about your past and consider how long you’ve considered yourself a perfectionist. It may have started when you felt the pressure to get into good colleges in high school or maybe you were hyper-vigilant about coloring inside the lines as a young kid.

Either way, it helps to recognize the causes and effects of perfectionism to understand how to beat it. Think about whether you determine your value by what goals you achieve or if you feel pressured to be exceptional at everything you do. 

After you identify what drives your perfectionist tendencies, you can challenge them with strategic choices and overcome them. You’ll find out a new way to be excellent at what you do without pushing yourself to unhealthy goals.

Get the Right Mindset

Now that you know where your perfectionism comes from, you can battle it and let go of old habits. Start with something small, like drafting an email to a coworker. Instead of re-reading it repeatedly, send it with confidence without any proofreading. Everyone makes typos or doesn’t communicate clearly sometimes, so it’s not a reflection on your self-worth or character if it happens.

Next, you can imagine that you’re a friend coaching you through your negative thoughts. You’d never say things like, “You’re not good enough,” to a friend who was trying their best, so why say it to yourself? Practice kindness and learn to stop judging yourself to get work done. Instead, remind yourself why you’re great when you get discouraged and talk yourself through negativity like a friend would.

Another technique you can use is to set a time frame for every step of your work. If you need to put together a project, assign yourself an hour of work per presentation slide or page of your research paper. At the end of that hour, move on no matter what. Embrace what you finished and reward yourself for the hard work with something new to focus on.

While you focus, don’t let your thoughts distract you. You can block out the negativity when you use sound to fill the silence, such as using background noise while you work. Improved, healthy focus can also improve the quality of work you accomplish, so you may not feel the need to go back over it when you finish.

Redirect Your Perfectionism

Your perfectionism may be part of your personality that will be with you for the rest of your life. If that’s true, don’t worry about it. Many people live with perfectionism and maintain control of their anxieties.

One way to do this is to prioritize where you channel that focus. Instead of aiming to make every effort and goal perfect, choose one. Imagine you have a big meeting coming up next week. You could work on your presentation and rehearse what you’ll say. That rehearsal will help you perfect your talking points, even if you don’t spend your free time combing through every detail of your presentation.

You could also choose to focus your efforts on relatively small things. Encourage yourself and try new tips during the day and when you get home, scrub the kitchen sink until it’s spotless. Shine your shoes. Dust your ceiling fans. The little things around your home won’t take up much time and eventually, you can phase out of focusing on those things as well.

Give Yourself Time

Perfectionism is a mindset that’s just as challenging to break as old habits. You won’t stop it overnight, so give yourself time. If you learn why you strive for perfection, change your mindset and redirect your focus, you can kick perfectionism to the curb and experience greater, healthier productivity at work and at home.

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