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The Perils of Perfectionism

Perfectionists are never satisfied and their striving is accompanied with the feeling that “they are never good enough.”  Many people view perfectionism as a positive attribute.  We believe that perfectionism can actually be very harmful to one’s success.  Its important to feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when you complete a task or project.  Perfectionists rarely (if ever) are satisfied.  Perfectionist tendencies can be limited to certain areas or activities.  For example, perfectionism could be based on cleanliness, scholastic standings, table manners, athletic skills, work product,  etc.

Perfectionism is a major productivity killer…here are a few examples:

– Trying to develop the perfect filing system.  Meanwhile nothing gets filed or the filing system is changed again and again.

– Trying to develop a perfect system to keep up with names, phone numbers, addresses, etc.  Meanwhile the names, business cards or post-its with contact information pile up or several “systems” are in use at the same time.

The need to find the perfect system keeps perfectionists from implementing or sticking with any system.

Here are some key observable symptoms of perfectionists:

– Excessive need to get it right the first time

– Excessively high and often unrealistic goals

– Often workaholics and overachievers and proud of it

– Micromanagers, poor at delegation

– Can be poor listeners

– Very afraid to make mistakes

– Often labor over decisions, small or large

– Feel responsible for things outside their span of control

A perfectionist will spend 50% of their time on a task getting the last 5-10% perfect. If a task takes two hours and is 95% done, a perfectionist will spend another two hours perfecting the last bit. When is 95% good enough? When it can save you a ton of time and allow you to get more accomplished!

At Simply Placed, we have two mantras that we go by:  “Done is better than perfect” (unless you’re a brain surgeon or pilot, of course!) and “oh well.”  We hope that these mantras can help the perfectionist in you too!

I’d add more to this post, or edit it a few more times, but “done is better than perfect” – I’m a recovering perfectionist afterall!

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