Being a perfectionist is not a bad thing. A lot of success can come out of the qualities of a perfectionist, like hard work and attention to detail. But there is not doubt that being a perfectionist can be really stressful, especially in the fast-paced environment that has become our modern world. If you are a perfectionist, it is easy to become overwhelmed and disillusioned by whatever big, daunting task is ahead. But don’t fret, I’m here to tell you how to manage your stress and still be productive as a perfectionist.
1. Don’t Procrastinate
We are all far too familiar with the horror story that is staying up all night before an assignment is due because we waited until the last minute, so why do we keep doing this to ourselves? If you already know that a project is going to take you a long time (and if you are a perfectionist, it often can), then it only makes sense to allow yourself enough time to complete it. The hardest step of anything is getting started, so just push yourself to start with plenty of time, and it will make things much easier on you in the long run. I find it useful to create a time-line in my agenda of how much I want to have completed out of the project and by when. Sticking to a timeline can really help you to stop procrastinating because you create your own deadlines before the final deadline, pushing you to stay proactive.
2. Bit-sized Chunks
Looking at a project in its entirety can be very demotivating, especially for a perfectionist. The truth is, it’s just not realistic to look at a project this way; we, as humans, process information in smaller chunks. That’s why we have paragraphs and lists to break up information. When you have this vision for the outcome of your assignment and you feel like everything has to fall into place exactly how you planned, it can be overwhelming when your goals were too big. So how do we deal with this feeling? By breaking your project into manageable, much smaller tasks. One task can be to brainstorm and write down ideas, and the next could be to pick and idea and outline it. If you’ve already followed step #1 and started early, good news! You can complete one little task a day, so it doesn’t feel so big and impossible at all. Eventually, all your smaller goals will build upon one another until you have a completed project without even realizing it.
3. Get Things Done
If there is one thing that we perfectionists need to get into our heads, it’s that done is better than perfect!!! Of course, you don’t want to put out any work that is subpar and you want everything to be done by the best of your abilities. But the world largely values efficiency when you value accuracy, which I know can be frustrating, so we have to learn how to stop being so meticulous and laboring over everything. Here’s a start: stop self-correcting and just get all your work down. If you’re writing a paper, just get all your words and thoughts down instead of pausing to look for that perfect word that’s in the back of your mind. Once you have everything down, you can go back and polish up your work as time allows, but trust me, you’ll feel so much better when you have the meat of the project done.
I know that being a perfectionist in today’s world is hard. It feels like you never have enough time to finish all the things you have to do, but nobody expects you to be perfect. By making mistakes, you are learning and growing as a person. By following my advice, you may start to manage your stress and cope with your perfectionist tendencies.