Many of us are perfectionists or recovering perfectionists! It's a mind set. A way of seeing the world, often through a black or white filter with no in-between grey lens.
You might not think you are a perfectionist; that your way of 'being or behaving' is quite OK. But if you are having trouble with
procrastination (which is one of the hallmarks of adult ADHD)
your 'to dos' are piling up faster than you can get through them
...you might like to check your filters and see if one has 'you have to be perfect' written on it.
One client - I'll call him Bob - when coaching remembered being challenged as a very young man; told he was being lazy and sloppy, by an older man he respected, who was observing him work; he told him "Anything worth doing is worth doing well - if you don't do it 100% it's not worth doing". Bob took it to heart. He would give everything he tackled 100% from there on in. And if he couldn't he wouldn't start a job.
- much time was spent writing lists, buying perfect supplies and organizing the perfect set up to do a job - but often the job was never begun as the interest waned long before the job was started.
- if Bob wasn't sure he could do a '100% job' rather than try and fail he deferred.
- jobs that only needed say 50% or 80% effort were given time and effort equaling 100% - a simple unimportant job was given 100% time and attention
Bobs wife (who coached with us sometimes) told of Bob putting the green waste from the garden into the recycle bin - spending nearly 2 hours to carefully chop and trim the clippings meticulously and perfectly to get it all in - while she would have - in her words - "...just have shoved in as much as I could, taking 10 minutes or less. It might look messy and stick out BUT was done quickly and 'well enough' and if any was left it could go into the next weeks bin - it was all going to the dump anyway and no one cares what the bin looks like".
So question is do you, like Bob, not start a project or challenging goal because you
- don't feel you can do it well enough right now
- You don't have the perfect supplies or tools
- the perfect amount of time
- you doubt you have enough skills so you wait to gain more
- you need the perfect weather - it's too hot, cold, damp or too dry?
- you need to lose weight
- have more energy
- have more money
Or, like Bob did, spend too long on a project trying to make it perfect regardless of how important?
Does your perfectionism ultimately result in your producing shoddy results? Much worse than you are capable of? Do you spend so much time on the research and looking for the perfect components that the end result is rushed and sub standard?
Bob and I came up with a strategy. He decided he would ask himself before a job "What % level of effort does this job really need". To remind him to ask the question he posted it on his computer, calendar and day planner so he saw it as he read his days 'to dos'; another on his work bench and a third by his coffee pot!! And he asked his wife to act as a support system and check in with him before he started big projects.
At first he had to fight the habit to say 100% to everything. But over time he's been able to clarify what was important and not important and ratchet down the amount of time and effort he put into these activities. He commented he now feels less driven; and more able to decide where to spend his time.
Note: PERFECT IS OFTEN THE ENEMY OF EXCELLENT!!
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perfectionism and procrastination
stop wasting time and feeling overwhelmed
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