3 Simple Ways to Stop Being a Perfectionist and Be More Productive

By Tanya Dalton

“Now is a time to be aggressively imperfect.”

As a self-diagnosed “recovering perfectionist” I know the pain and struggle that comes with a perfectionist mentality, especially right now, with so much on our plates. Today, I’ve already had to cancel a standing meeting to pick up my daughter Kate from school since they’ve decided to close early. Like the majority of parents with school-age children right now, my husband and I are navigating our two kids’ fluctuating school schedules, which include two days in person, two days virtual, and one day off— just in case life wasn’t hectic enough.

It’s no wonder that a new report from The New York Times found that parents, particularly mothers with kids at home, are markedly more stressed than nonparents during the pandemic. Women are taking the brunt of the workload during this pandemic and for the first time ever, we really are being asked to juggle it all.

Allow me to propose a quite radical solution to this problem. For anyone—but particularly all the women—reading this who are struggling with perfectionism, I’m here to tell you that now is a time to be aggressively imperfect. More than ever, I’m seeing true authenticity from people, whether it’s spotting a sink full of dirty dishes in someone’s Zoom background, or a kid walking up behind them, or a dog barking. It’s becoming more accepted that even when you are in professional mode, there is still life happening outside of that. This is a time where it’s okay to feel vulnerable because we all feel that way. We’re all human at the end of the day.

Find out what type of perfectionist you are

If you’re looking to fix a problem, the first thing to do is admit you have a problem. You’ve probably heard that before. This means discovering which type of perfectionist category you fall into. In case you didn’t realize, there are actually two different types:

1. The Striver: If you’re a striver, you likely have no issue starting a task or project, but you set impossible standards. You set goals for yourself and work incredibly hard, but your standards are unreachable, so you’re constantly battling against failure.

2. The Idealist: If you’re an idealist, then you likely never even start. You spend too much time wrapped up in envisioning what the perfect future will look like and don’t actually make the move to begin. Because your idea is perfection, you know you’ll never come close to achieving the grandiose vision that’s in their mind, so you just keep dreaming.

Chances are you read one of those two descriptions and found yourself strongly identifying with one or the other. Knowing this information about yourself is actually a power because you can catch yourself in the act. Now, let’s discuss how to combat your perfectionism.

Now, let’s discuss how to combat your perfectionism.

Originally published on FastCompany.com October 19, 2020