aWhy Perfectionism Isn't Such a Perfect Plan
Real Life. Real Strategies. Real Quick.
Smart Solutions for Working Women.
January 21, 2011
Issue #25

Why Perfectionism Isn't Such a Perfect Plan


If you're a perfectionist, don't worry, it's not all bad news.  The upside is that you're probably very driven and aware of when it's genuinely necessary to pay attention to every last detail of a project.  However, the downside is that you may be devoting excessive time and energy to tasks which don't require perfection.  If you find yourself falling into this trap, you might want to ask yourself the following questions each time you start an activity. 

  1. What kind of effort does this task need?  50%?  80%?  110%?
    This question will help you immediately determine the amount of time and energy required to successfully complete the task.  Some activities, like preparing for a critical presentation, require 100% of your effort.  Others, like writing a weekly project update, might only need 70% of your effort.  The key is remembering that if you attempt to give everything 100%, activities which truly need all of your energy and focus will be compromised.

  2. What are the consequences of being a perfectionist with this task?
    Perfectionism often results in less time for other priorities, resentment when your extra efforts aren't noticed, and exhaustion.  Also, keep in mind that at work, our managers expect us to know how to appropriately manage our projects; your professional reputation may be affected if your manager has concerns about how you are utilizing your time.

  3. Is it possible that I'll be LESS effective if I apply perfectionism to this activity?
    When we spend too much time on a project, we have a tendency to over-analyze and add unnecessary details which have no value.  Instead of improving your work, you may wind up worsening it

  4. Am I holding myself to standards I would never expect from someone else?
    Consider if you would honestly expect another colleague to work all weekend on this project.  Similarly, would you genuinely expect a friend to host a dinner resembling a meal at the Four Seasons?  If you wouldn't have those expectations of others, then they're probably unreasonable for you, as well.

Faun Zarge helps people find solutions for their work-life challenges.
She offers her practical, realistic strategies through a wide variety of highly interactive and engaging seminars.  Please feel free to contact Faun directly to discuss how she might help your organization.


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