Welcome to the crossroads of perfectionism and productivity.
Productivity focuses on how many things or tasks you can complete in a given amount of time, such as cleaning multiple rooms in your home over one week. Perfectionism, however, focuses on the level of excellence you can accomplish with one specific task, such as cleaning your kitchen top to bottom and never leaving even the tiniest speck of dust. But what happens when you miss a piece of hair that falls on the kitchen floor as you’re cleaning, or a soap bubble creates a tiny water stain on the window that’s almost entirely invisible to the naked eye? Do you decide that you’ll never clean another room in your home, or do you opt to clean the kitchen for another 4 hours to ensure you didn’t miss anything? The truth is that perfectionism is a dangerous game many of us play. How do we keep ourselves from self-sabotaging our progress, thus our productivity? Here are three helpful things to keep in mind.
- Perfection impedes progress.
- Perfectionism can turn a 20-minute task into a 2-day job. It cripples your ability to move forward because you’re trying to make everything just right. However, even when things are completed to your liking, it’s highly probable that you’ll always find something else to “fix,” and you’ll struggle to complete the next task. Focus your sights on progress, not perfection, to keep your productivity high.
- Perfectionism breeds anxiety.
- Most standards for perfectionism are self-imposed, and when those standards are not met, stress, anxiety, and even depression tend to creep in. Stress and anxiety wreak havoc on your innovation and creativity, not to mention your overall health. When striving for perfection over productivity, you risk mental health consequences when you cannot achieve the (unrealistic) standards you’ve set for yourself.
- Failure is inevitable.
- Perfection is the absence of failure, and no one operates at maximum efficiency 100% of the time. Expect yourself to be human and learn to appreciate the losses that come with you. You aim to achieve productivity, and accepting failure will keep you going much farther than rejecting progress due to imperfection.
Most importantly, remember that “perfection” is subjective. What’s perfect to you may never be perfect to someone else, and what you consider perfect may border subpar the longer you analyze it. If your goal is productivity, shape your milestones around your progress, not your excellence. Then, once you’ve accomplished the things on your list, celebrate yourself for being human and doing your best. Your future self will thank you!