How to Overcome Perfectionism and Get Things Done Today

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Are you looking for tips on how to overcome perfectionism?

Even if you don’t consider yourself a perfectionist, you may find yourself working on something far longer than is physically necessary.

You know how it goes.

You’ve already put in hours and hours of hard work.

But you’re not satisfied with what you’ve got.

Everything has to be just right.

You find yourself spending countless hours polishing an already decent presentation…

It takes you several days more to sand down the exterior of a structurally-sound, hand-crafted bureau…

And you spend an entire weekend tweaking the final chapter of your manuscript for the 32nd time…

While producing solid, quality work is one thing, perfectionism can cause problems in your daily life.

It may cause you to let other work and responsibilities fall by the wayside.

And as we all know, that’s not a very practical way to go about your days!

In this post, you’ll find some tips on how to overcome perfectionism in your work.

These tips will not only allow you to complete tasks in a satisfactory manner…but it will also allow you to feel good about them!


Set production standards for your work.

Physically speaking, perfection is pretty near impossible.

You don’t have the time, energy, or resources to do everything in your life perfectly.

Even if you did have unlimited energy and resource, you’d end up hitting a productivity wall because there are only so many hours in a day, week, month, and year!

So just what is a person to do? You can’t let perfectionism rule your day.

Well, the next best thing is be fully vested in the quality of your work. It’s something you can 100% control.

One way to do this is to set a production standard or standards for tasks you perform on a regular basis.

It’s as easy as setting up some solid guidelines that specifically include what your completed work will entail.

The idea is simply this: you set a certain production standard for a task, you work on and complete the task, and you move onto another task.

Here’s a real-life example for you. Let’s say you’re concerned about the quality of a simple internal email announcement you have to write for your office.

If you were going to take the perfectionist route, imagining a perfectly-crafted announcement, with the right words, the right tone, the right everything…well, that announcement might not ever be sent.

But what if you set up some practical guidelines instead to help you get your work done?

Ones that will not only allow you to do your work, but ensure there are some quality-control measures built in?

In this case, you might decide that the email covers three important points.

You decide the email must be: 1) courteous, 2) direct, and 3) brief.

And that’s it.

Once you’ve set your guidelines, you can get to work with your writing.

As soon as your email matches those three criteria, you can proofread it, and then send the message.

Then, it’s time to work on another assignment. See how easy that was?

Taking the time to set production standards now will help you better manage your productivity levels later.

What are some ways you can set production standards for your work at the office, at home, school, or beyond?

How can you limit the amount of time, energy, and resources you spent on a particular task or series of tasks?

Save your energy for things that truly matter.

Are you spending too much time wondering if royal or peacock-blue would be a better choice for the paper napkins at your company’s weekly happy hour?

Look, there are times when it’s important to be discerning in your work.

And then there are times when it’s not all that necessary to be so discerning.

What matters most is that you save your energy and use it for things that are important to you and your goals.

Now, of course, this begs the question of whether or not you are placing too much energy on a relatively unimportant decision.

If you’re having a difficult time deciding whether or not this is the case, you can simply take a mini-break from what you’re doing.

Spend five minutes to stretch, let your mind wander, or decompress from your work.

You can now take a moment to calmly evaluate your situation with a clear mind.

All you have to do is ask yourself this brief question: “Will this really matter a year from now?”

Be honest with yourself here. Your answer will speak volumes!

Is what you’re spending your time, energy, and resources all that important in the grand scheme of things?

Will this decision or work have a direct or major impact on your life in a year from now?

If your answer is no, you can probably make an educated decision that this isn’t something to fret over, and that you should move on to something else.

Once you’ve re-centered yourself and your goals, you can focus on the work that is really, truly important to you.

But what if you’re still stuck and can’t see yourself out of your current decision?

If you’re still having difficult seeing your way out of your particular line of thinking, this is where it may be handy to ask a trustworthy colleague or friend for their unbiased opinion.

They’re bound to give you some helpful and brutally honest feedback.   

And if you need some perspective, the energy you save on a trivial matter now, can be immediately redirected towards a matter that’s of greater importance to you.

That’s not a bad trade-off, now is it?

Understand that it can always be better.

No matter which tasks you perform, what your daily routine looks like, or what you do for a living, one thing holds true.

It can always be better. It’s just a simple fact of life.

The sooner you calmly come to terms with this key fact, the better.

Being conscious about this fact will go a long way when it comes to getting things done in your life.

No longer will you be held prisoner by thoughts of, “But what if?”

You’ve already sufficiently answered the question. Period end of story.

You no longer have to let it rule your busy day or routine.

And if you think for one moment this statement is meant to be negative, frustrating, or sap your energy, why not take a moment to look at it from the other side?

The sheer fact that something can always be better can be downright inspiring!

How so? Look at it this way: every email you write, every assignment you turn in, and every presentation you give can always be better.

You can always be better, bigger, bolder!

You can improve, rehearse, review, and refine.

Truly, the possibilities are endless.

And this gives us something deliciously wonderful to work towards in our lives each and every day.

So remember this, do what you can, given the time, energy, and resources available to you.

And remember that yes, it can always be better.

But don’t forget, you’ve got other things to do now, right now.

And that’s perfectly okay.

How about you? When and where does the “perfection bug” strike every now and then in your professional or personal life? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

Want to master time management? Check out The Order Expert’s Guide to Time Management, a self-guided eWorkbook designed to help you learn basic time management skills.

If you want to take your time management skills to the next level, learn more about my time management coaching.

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Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.