The Procrastination and Perfection Talk

Have you ever had the feeling that every ounce of energy and patience has been drained from your body? It’s normally an effect of over-working, over-thinking, or a combination of both. Perfectionists are usually in one of two modes. One is procrastination, and the other is working yourself to your wits end. There is a balance that we must find in order to get things done without overworking or procrastinating. 

Perfection is a lie. You simply can’t do it all, and you definitely can’t do it all at once. If you really have your heart set on getting everything done perfectly, you have two options: Try to get more than what is even humanly possible done, OR prioritize some goals, and succeed to your highest ability. That is my idea of perfection. Now let’s talk about how to reach perfection and avoid procrastination.

Start by organizing your goals.

It’s important to organize goals, and understand which ones are short-term versus long-term. Begin by writing a list of all of the goals you have your heart set on right now. Once you’ve completed that list, divide the list into two categories: short-term and long-term.

Short-term goals are things like cleaning your makeup brushes, reading a chapter of a book, or mailing out a package. They obviously don’t take as much time, nor do they require a big outline. However, goals like saving enough money to buy a car, getting a degree, or backpacking through the country require time and planning.

Therefore, a long term goal list will change less frequently. You should rewrite your list of short-term goals often because they are, well, short-term. The goal is to complete those goals right?

When we hear the word “goals” we might naturally think of reaching the end because it motivates us to get there. The in-between parts, however, are what really matter the most.

Regardless of time constraints you know what you are capable of. They key is to be aware of your goals and how you use your time. Before you dive into a task or project, think about how much time you really need to complete it. You might even want to go the extra mile by writing down each step it takes to do it.

In the long run, as long as you are working towards things that really matter right now there is no reason to beat yourself up. Don’t feel ashamed when one plan goes differently than expected and it mixes up your whole day. Balance the plate. Quit letting procrastination and perfectionism haunt you, and choose what to excel at for the day.

Plan ahead.

Before bed each night, think of all the things you realistically need and want to do tomorrow. Write them down on add them to your calendar. I use an app called Diem – the better to-do list. The simplicity of it is what makes the app perfect for someone trying to avoid procrastination.

Here’s the app store description of it because it sums it up nicely; “You’ll love us for what we don’t have: no sign-up, no subscriptions, no due dates. No folders, no snooze, no subtasks. Our elegant design almost feels like paper: add your tasks, swipe to complete, and set just a single reminder for the whole list.”

Before going to sleep, I list all of my to-dos for the next day in the Diem app. Thanks to this habit, when I wake up in the morning, I don’t get overwhelmed by trying to think of everything that needs done because I already know what I have to do. It promotes organization, routine, and accountability.

Diem app to do list on iPhone

Planning your day on the night before saves time in the morning. You’ll get more done in less time and experience more flow. If you give yourself a basic framework for your days you’ll be much more likely to stop procrastinating and pack your days with useful work that adds value to your life. Working out the kinks today will make for a better tomorrow.

Accept being bad at some things.

Like I said in the beginning, you simply can’t do it all. It’s important to accept this if you struggle with perfectionism. Don’t give up too early on, but be logical. Allow yourself to recognize when it’s time to accept that something just isn’t for you.

I started college as a film student. Halfway through my first semester I realized that I couldn’t see myself in the film industry what so ever. I barely watch movies, let alone want to produce one.

So I accepted that cinema production was not the major for me, and nervously called my mom to tell her I already wanted to switch majors. Luckily for the both of us, multimedia was my next choice and it ended up being the perfect fit.

If you’ve repeatedly tried to do something (and I mean if you actually tried), but you don’t see yourself succeeding or moving forward, it might be a sign that that certain thing isn’t meant for you. And that is OKAY. Just be realistic with yourself so that you can make more room for things that are meant for you.

Stop trying to multitask. 

Scientists have proven that there is actually no such thing as multitasking. What we call multitasking is simply just switching between tasks really fast. It exhausts our brain, we get tired faster, and we resort to procrastination. Our minds are simply not wired to do two things at once.

“Multitasking” or “switch-tasking” comes with a cost. In a 2010 study, Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert found that people spend almost 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re currently doing.

I HIGHLY recommend reading this article. It explains the 3 different types of multitasking, the impact multitasking has on your brain, and how to break the cycle to protect your attention, focus, and time. Seriously, if you struggle with procrastination and perfectionism you need to read it. I’ll also include the link at the end of this post!

“If you want to get tasks done at a higher quality and in less time, it pays dividends to focus on one at a time. Here’s why:

  • Single-tasking = less stress. When you expend extra energy trying to multitask, you end up exhausted and behind on work. However, when you focus on one thing at a time, you’re more likely to get into a state of flow, finish what you set out to do, and, in turn, lower your workplace stress levels.
  • Single-tasking makes you focus on what you “should” do (not what you “could” do). Choosing something to place all your attention on for a set period of time means saying no to a bunch of other tasks. This not only helps you prioritize your most important work but can also rebuild your focus.
  • Doing one thing at a time can make you more creative. It might seem like single-tasking is limiting. But in fact, constraints can boost creativity. As research has found, when we face scarcity in resources we give ourselves “freedom to use those resources in less conventional ways—because we have to.”

— Jory Mackay |The Myth of Multitasking: The ultimate guide to getting more done by doing less

Take a step back when you are overwhelmed .

It’s okay – in fact necessary – to take breaks for rest. Wanting to finish everything to “perfection” or to your best ability is a sign of ambition and drive. However once you are burned out it’s very easy to fall into procrastination mode and struggle to get back into your flow.

When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, there’s a chance you’re already doing too much. If that’s the case, it’s time to reprioritize.

Step back and look at the big picture. Take a few deep breaths. Sit in silence for a few moments. Call it quits for the night and go to sleep for crying out loud. Your thoughts and feelings matter. You will be more successful if you take the time to take care of yourself.

You aren’t done with something until you’re proud of it. This doesn’t mean that you have to win every gold medal, get straight As, or be named Parent of the Year. It’s okay to fail sometimes, but at least you’ll know, in your heart, that you’ve done your best.

"If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit."

“When you’re in the weeds, all you can see is the process of doing the work. When you take a step back, you can see the purpose”

— WorkLife with Adam Grant

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