A major reason to why we procrastinate is because many of us are perfectionists. We refrain from making decisions or starting a project because we feel that every choice we make and action we do must be perfect. As such, we look for the perfect job, the perfect place to live in, the perfect project and so forth. To put this in a specific context: you write something, but much as you revise it, it’s never quite right. Therefore, it’s never finished.
No such thing as perfect
Think about it. If you take a quick look around you, how much perfections do you actually see? Your public transport system is likely far from perfect, the industry leaders are not infallible, Einstein had accurate and inaccurate theories, and by all means you’re likely to find all kinds of mistakes, typos and whatnot on this blog and blogpost. So isn’t it actually very silly to procrastinate and not finish something because it’s not “perfect”? It is.
If you feel you actually know something that is perfect then I challenge you to write it in the comment field below and I’m sure we can all dissect it and find numerous faults. There’s simply is no such thing as perfect, so stop holding yourself hostage to such standards.
The solution therefore to a major procrastination issue, is to forget about perfection. Just don’t worry about it. Go ahead. Do things. Finish things. While you’re procrastinating, other people are making deals, making money and making improvements to their lives. They’re not perfect at all, but excel by doing things.
A personal story regarding perfectionism
Perfectionism was the sole thing that kept me from producing content on this blog. I’d have a huge backlog of drafts and documents almost ready to be published but which never reached the acceptable “perfectionist standard” I had put on myself. So the drafts just remained just that — as drafts.
I’d look at professional blogs and media websites and realize that my grammar wasn’t as good as theirs — so I used uneccessary long time trying to improve it. I saw my graphics being inferior to others, so I spent ages trying to tweak things on Photoshop. And so on, you get the picture. I refrained from posting them, thinking they would serve little purpose; thinking they would not be appreciated if they didn’t have sufficient own-curated fancy graphics or quotes and being fine-tuned extensively and whatever. So they never got posted…
Where I instead should have embraced the “imperfection” and sought to improve by learning and doing; posting content and getting feedback — instead I almost aimlessly attempted to learn and improve without any actual results to show for. Not only would perfectionism delay my blogging, but it would have similar symptoms in other parts of my work and life as well, which just generally led to a lot of delays and some failures.
Perfectionism and startups
Similar issue with “perfectionism” holds especially true for a lot of startups and entrepreneurs, whom I work closely with both on an internal and external basis. You just can’t waste time building something “perfect”. First of all, it’s not likely to ever be perceived as perfect from your customers anyways, just as a blog post is not likely to ever be perceived as “perfect” by anyone. Secondly, you’d delay time that should have otherwise be spent on testing your idea, bringing out a minimum viable product, receive feedback, reiterate/pivot, improve and so forth.
Perfectionism has some merits but…
While I am trashing “perfectionism” here, I do acknowledge that it does have its merits to some degree, as long as it doesn’t develop into an unhealthy and unproductive way of life. All I’m essentially saying is that you need to be self-aware about whether your strive for perfectionism inhibits you from performing and from becoming a better you.
And in today’s fast-paced world you don’t want to be left out just because you were not able to create, do and establish anything productively because it had to be “perfect”.
Essentially, there is no greater freedom like the freedom of not caring obsessively about how well you do. As long as you do things — you’ll be more than fine.