8 Reasons Why Being a Perfectionist Is Killing Your Productivity

People often talk about perfectionism as something to strive for. There are always those individuals who need everything to be just right moving forward with anything. In theory, there is nothing wrong with striving for perfection. If you know you can do better, you always strive for this. If you don't, you'll never see improvements within yourself. However, when perfectionism is improperly executed and implemented into your daily life, it not only can cause major problems later in your work life, but it may just be the death of your productivity. In fact, here are eight reasons why being a perfectionist is killing your productivity.

1. Perfection is Almost Always Completely Subjective

Here's the thing about perfectionism: what's perfect for one person may not be perfect for another. There are a few exceptions to the rule, such as a pitching a perfect game or bowling 300. These are perfect scores with a pre-determined definition. However, in most other cases, perfection depends on the point of view. A person might want to churn out a perfect first draft (there's no such thing as a perfect first draft) or create the perfect sales pitch. No matter what it is, what might be perfect for one person will almost never be perfect for someone else. So why strive for perfection in the cases when others around you are not going to see it as perfect? This just ends up being a giant waste of time. While you should strive to do the best job you can, you shouldn't allow your productivity to fall apart when perfection is subjective.

2. You Have a Deadline to Meet

Typically, you have a deadline to meet. Whether it is a sales report or a paper to hand in, you need to complete work by a set period of time. With this established deadline, what is better to do-- meet the deadline or miss it while you strive for perfection? Perfection isn’t worth a hill of beans when you don’t have a job because you continually missed deadlines. You know what the great thing is about meeting your deadline (outside of keeping your job)? You can always go back and revisit what you did and make it better. That’s one of the beautiful parts of life. You can always take what you did and move forward to make it better. So instead of always striving for perfection, strive to do the best job you can while still meeting the deadline.

3. Perfection Leads to Stress and Stress Leads to Your Innovation Suffering

Think of this as Jedi Master Yoda teaching you about productivity. In one of the growing number of Star Wars movies, he tells his young Padawan "fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering." In a similar way, perfection leads to stress, stress leads to your innovation suffering, which leads to the death of productivity. When you won't settle for anything but the very best, you'll begin to stress yourself out. This not only puts your innovation in danger, but it also hinders your physical health as well. As your health and innovation suffer, so too does your productivity. In many ways, attempting to obtain perfection does more harm than good. If you're struggling to come up with new ideas and you see your productivity decline, it's probably because you're trying too hard to achieve instant perfection. Stop. As soon as you do, you'll feel your innovation come back, not to mention physically feel better at the same time.

4. No Matter How Hard You Try, Nobody is Perfect

There’s just something about being perfect. Nabbing a perfect SAT score or flashing a perfect smile. Attaching the word “perfect” to anything means it is impossible to do better, whether it is you or someone else. Here’s the thing: nobody, no matter how hard they try, is perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect story or a perfect diamond. Nobody will create the perfect sales pitch or release the perfect musical album. Beyond perfection being subjective, the ability to be perfect simply isn't possible. The problem with constantly trying to be perfect is you reduce your own self-worth. It is impossible to reach perfection, so you'll likely end up seeing yourself as a failure for not hitting your set mark.

If you are a perfectionist, you’re probably your own toughest critic. That is fine, as many of the greatest performers, artists, musicians and business professionals are also tougher on themselves than anyone else. Let this drive you, but don’t let this take you over.

5. Perfectionism and Procrastination is Often One in the Same

It’s funny how both procrastination and perfectionism often go hand in hand. What may seem like striving for perfection quickly becomes procrastination. You work on an idea, trying to come up with something better, yet when you’re unable to do this you put if off to the side. On the quest for perfection, you’ll find your productivity is almost completely drained. After all, if you can’t think of anything better, yet your current work is not up to your set standard, what else can you do but just sit on your hands and wait for that next great bout of inspiration to come? In the name of perfectionism, you turn into a procrastinator. There may be nothing more detrimental towards your level of productivity than procrastination.

6. Perfectionism Hinders Your Professional Relationships, Which Can Hurt Your Business

If you're a boss and you demand perfection from your employees, you demand the impossible. You're asking your employees to do what they are not able to do. All they can do is offer you their very best, yet as a perfectionist, you'll almost always be disappointed with whatever kind of work they deliver you. This can lead to frustration amongst your employees as they attempt to put to work yet continually fall short of your expectations.

There are other problems perfectionism can bring about within the workplace. It leads to problems developing professional relationships not only with employees, but also with potential clients and business partners as well. You'll come across as closed off or even fake as you'll either never accept what people give you, or you'll pretend what others do is good, which can be perceived as inflexible or fake. These problems come back on your ability to run a productive business and grow it.

7. You’ll Never Take Risks If You’re Always Trying to be Perfect

A perfectionist almost never takes risks. That’s because with risk comes uncertainty, and with uncertainty comes the likelihood of you not being perfect because the risk brings new challenges and ideas. In the business world, you may eventually feel perfect, which can bring on an invincible feeling. While this is undoubtedly a nice feeling to surround yourself in as a business owner, it also leaves you stuck in your small section of the industry and prohibits you from ever expanding or growing. If you’re happy in the little rut you’ve forged, this might be perfectly fine. However, if you strive for more from your professional life and want to take the company you’ve grown to the next level, you will need to take risks, which means you’ll need to give up the idea of perfection.

8. Perfection Prevents Adaptation

The world of business is always changing. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you own or what industry your company is in, there is always something going on and changing. If you want to remain on top, you need to evolve with the times. This is where perfection comes in to cut down your productivity and ability to change with everything going on. This is because as a perfectionist you’re not open to new ideas. As stated earlier, a new idea means a new risk, which means you likely won’t be perfect.

When something new comes up you might freeze and not want to alter your current path, even if the new path is a necessary one. You'll also run into problems when unexpected demands come into your professional life. Just about anything that comes up and requires change will become a major burden on your business and completely kill off your productivity. Strive for greatness, but understand it is not always possible (or healthy) for you to be perfect.

In certain instances, perfection can prove to be a valuable motivator. It pushes you to greatness and to become better than you use to be. However, there are times in life where continually striving for perfection is not the best option. In fact, there are many times where perfection completely kills your productivity. In these cases, you need to do what you can, put in your best effort, and then continue onward. This way, you not only produce quality work, but also boost productivity at the same time.

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Which reason do you think hurts your productivity the most? How can you change this?

Written by Mike Williams

I am a serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of business experience. My goal with this blog is to pass on some of what I have learned in order to help you achieve success in business.

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