Believe it or not, perfectionism and procrastination go together like peanut-butter and jelly.
They seem like they’d be total opposites, right? We think of perfectionists as “type A,” organized people. Procrastinators seem like they’d be… well, relaxed. Type B, if you will.
So why do perfectionists procrastinate?
Perfectionists put a *lot* of pressure on themselves to get things exactly right; the first time, if possible. They want to avoid any mistakes.
If perfectionists don’t start the project, they won’t be able to make any mistakes. They won’t be subject to judgements from themselves or others. How can they be critiqued for something they haven’t done yet?
Some perfectionists also have an unrealistic belief that if they think in-depth about a project before starting, they’ll be able to iron out all the kinks and get everything right on the first try. So they just keep thinking, and put off starting. This is also known as analysis paralysis.
Also, if perfectionists procrastinate until the last minute, they have the fact that they were “rushed” to justify potentially poor work. This reassures them that if their work is poor, it’s not because they aren’t good or smart enough; it’s just because they were doing everything at the last minute.
The reality is that mistakes will happen, no matter how good you are at what you’re doing. Errors are a part of the process that leads to a good end result.
Moreover, mistakes are part of being human, and part of life. Sometimes, mistakes lead to even better results than the original idea.
Imperfections are normal. Just look to nature; not everything in nature is symmetrical. Not rocks, or clouds, or trees… and they’re still beautiful.
How to cope with procrastination
- Break down your tasks into little steps
- Make to-do lists. Cross off what you complete
- Reward yourself for completing tasks
- Make commitments to finish tasks by specific days and times
- Get an accountability buddy
- Figure out how you’ve accomplished things in the past, and use the methods that worked for you
- See a therapist 🙂
Rebecca Ogle is a licensed therapist who practices teletherapy with millennials who live in Illinois and internationally. Rebecca empowers her clients to cope with anxiety, depression, negative self-talk, and people pleasing using their strengths and inner wisdom.