It's 8:00 PM. You have a major team deliverable tomorrow, and despite 52 offers from your coworkers, you turn them all down and are convinced that you are the only one who can complete the task to your satisfaction.
After cleaning every room in your house, meal prepping for the week, and randomly picking lint out of your sweater, you decide to stay up until 3:00 AM creating the presentation, storyline, and handouts… and it looks amazing. After the presentation, everyone calls you a genius, wonders how you do it, but all you can think about is the sleep you're about to get that night.
On the brink of exhaustion, you swear that you're never going to procrastinate again, but you and I both know you will, because you're a procrastinating perfectionist.
“Perfectionism is a form of procrastination.”— Nayamka Roberts-Smith, LE (@Nayamka Roberts-Smith, LE)1529773937.0
People don't understand us, but we're blessed with a skill-set that can transform into a curse if left unchecked. Rather than get started, we wait and plan and perfect in order to avoid getting started. Even if the end product is ah-mazing, continued procrastination will prevent us from reaching our full potential. Why settle for a B when you can get an A?
Here are 5 phrases you've probably said if you're a procrastinating perfectionist and tips to get back on track.
"It will get done."
If anything, this is the procrastinating perfectionist's go-to catch phrase. The thought of impending deadlines hang over our heads like a dark cloud, and yet here we are, deciding to watch a whole season of House of Cards knowing that we could finish a designated task 3 days in advance if we were on top of our scheduling. Stop it!
Tip: Follow the "one touch rule": As soon as something is assigned to you or designated for a certain day/time, only "touch" it once. Don't start and then stop. Don't push back the deadline. Just force yourself to sit there and complete the task until it's complete and then cross it off the list.
"It's all in my head."
This phrase lets us act like we have actually began working on a task, when in reality, it's a cop out. Unless you truly have written a list or created an outline with actionable steps (or however you prefer to organize your life), you have not made legitimate progress.
Tip: Create detailed schedules/to-do lists and be accountable for the items you place on them. If you know you cannot bake 78 cakes in an hour, do not put it on your to-do list. Setting mini-deadlines can help you accomplish more sophisticated goals, but be realistic and ensure that you are following through.
"The deadline motivates me." or "I was waiting for inspiration."
Similar to the "it's all in my head" excuse, the "I was waiting for inspiration" claim also allows us to be complacent with inactivity. Sometimes you have to force yourself to be productive by creating an environment where you can focus, or refusing to move onto other activities before completing an agenda item.
Tip: At a minimum, research shows that it takes at least 18 days to change a habit, so repetition and forced realignment with more productive goals can help you get back on track.
"It would be easier if I did ____ myself." or "No one does____ like I do."
Refusal to ask for or receive help can guarantee that you will not complete some tasks. Learning to let go and/or relinquish some control is an important life skill. There are ways to contribute your opinion without leading the whole project and having your hands in too many pies can prevent you from having the capacity to focus on projects you truly care about.
Tip: Invest in training others or leaving detailed instructions so others can pick up tasks where you left off. Their interpretation of a project may not be the same, but sometimes the incorporation of fresh perspectives can lead to even better end products.
"It all worked out."
If you're a vegetarian who occasionally eats a burger, are you really a vegetarian? That's not how it works, sis. Just because you feel good about the end product, doesn't mean that the road you took to get there was appropriate.
Tip: Don't pat yourself on the back for unproductive behavior. When you have that "I really should be productive right now" feeling, do. You'll thank yourself for it later.