If you suffer from the bite of perfectionism, you’ll know how difficult it can be to get work done. There’s always something that can be done, be tweaked, or be further workshopped or edited until it’s perfect. But how good is perfectionism in terms of productivity, and is it better to accept your flaws?
Let’s explore perfectionism and how it affects your work.
How Can Perfectionism Help?
To explore the effects of perfectionism, we need to see what science says. The Harvard Business Review wrote a report that gathered different studies to see the effects of perfectionism. As it turns out, ensuring that everything is perfect has a few uses and a lot of flaws.
First, someone who strives to do everything flawlessly will naturally be motivated to work. They’ll also want to do their work well and will display a keen desire to impress the people they work under.
In a way, this makes a perfectionist an ideal employee for a boss. Managers may have a worker that strives to do the best that they can and who will always turn up motivated to get to work. On the surface, it looks like the best kind of worker.
How Can Perfectionism Hinder Productivity?
Unfortunately, while managers love the idea of a perfectionist, the cost of perfectionism on the worker themselves is dire.
To start, someone with a mindset to make flawless work will often set lofty, sometimes unattainable, goals. There are smart ways to set a goal, but perfectionists won’t care about a goal being smart, only that it’s perfect. As such, they hold themselves to a higher standard than what’s needed.
This is particularly bad, as a perfectionist’s self-esteem is directly linked to how well they perform at work. If they have unattainable goals, they will constantly fail to meet their desires, and their self-esteem will plummet. As such, perfectionism will be a constant source of depression and anxiety.
Because a perfectionist only feels good when they do something flawlessly, they will work tirelessly to achieve that result. Unfortunately, they may eventually push themselves past their personal limit and burn out. This will result in errors and failures, which will only prove to frustrate the perfectionist further.
Getting Used to “Good Enough”
What can we take from this report? If you feel like your desire for a perfect product causes you more distress than happiness, you should try to remedy that. Trying for perfect results will only result in a drop in quality.
First, be more self-compassionate about your mistakes. If you make an error, do not beat yourself up or drag your self esteem through the mud. Tell yourself that errors are something that everyone does, even the most successful people. By “allowing” yourself to make mistakes, the effects on you will be less profound. Aim not to complete a task without any mistakes but instead how to improve and make lesser mistakes the next time around.
When you do your work, try to get it to the point where it feels “good enough.” This feeling will differ from person to person, but you can get a good sense of it by listening to your inner critic.
If you’re making changes to your work because it would add a substantial amount of content, go ahead. On the other hand, if you’re skimming your work for the tenth time in fear of making a single error, it may be time to wrap it up.
It’s a good idea to imagine a friend of yours in the same position as you are. If you have a friend who’s stressing over their work despite checking it multiple times, how would you respond? If you would tell them to relax and send the work off, why are you holding yourself as an exception to this rule?
Defeating a Perfect Mindset
While a perfectionist mindset has a few positives, it comes with some heavy negatives that make it a bad source of productivity. Remember that everyone makes mistakes, and you are no exception.