Perfectionism vs. Productivity vs. Stress

Perfectionism vs. Productivity vs. Stress

There are people who put a lot of attention and effort on details. People who want to be in control of all aspects of their work. People who want to be perfect. Is that feasible at all? Where is the balance between getting a job done effectively and spending too much time? Does putting a lot of effort and the stress involved correspond to the details priority? All these questions investigated by Anna Majowska – read it on.

Anxiety and Stress. If you try to think seriously on “meeting the highest standard”, really seriously, there will be inevitable stress and anxiety realising what the highest standard mean. Such an approach may result in constant worry, feel of guilt and duty to do more than your best. Being just good, regular has many benefits over a constant strive for the best. It is a more realistic approach that is expected to constantly give good results. A perfectionist risks to dig his state of mind into constant depression and low self-esteem. None of these contribute to the productivity in a long term.

Priority Issues. We described the impact person suffers trying to be perfect. What about impact on the work itself? Paying attention to each and every detail is one of the worse traps possible. It could eat up enormous resources, fail deadlines and budgets for no benefit. Prioritisation is a number one rule before you pursue perfection in the details. People with great expertise are very good at this – sorting out what is important, what is not, what is feasible and will be done within proper timing. People, who get obsessed with details could be seen as procrastinators instead of perfectionists.

Is a Failure an Option? In order to become good at something, one needs and inevitably does mistakes. This is the quickest way to learn. You need of course, to pay attention what you are doing. Being afraid to allow mistakes is related to extended timing. A person misses a chance to become really good at what he is doing. People who tend to afraid of mistakes often skip such tasks and go on, missing the chance to get better. All these features are counter productive. A failure is an everyday reality towards reaching your goals.

Following the Leader. It is a compulsive behavior to stick to boss’ requirements to the smallest detail. Here we may have some personality issues and specialties, but in general a good leader will see if something done another way brings good result. Blindly keeping up to rules is a limitation on the quantity and quality of work.

Perfect vs Innovative. A perfectionist is under pressure everything to be done right from the first attempt. On the other hand, innovation takes trial and error, and there is a greater possibility for error proven in a recent study. Innovation is an everyday attempt to do things better and better at each iteration. This also mean that one should not be apprehensive towards new things, challenges, career, contacts, e.t.c.

Narrow Focus and Limitations. Suppose we have reached some level of perfection. Such people might become self-sufficient and complacent. You cannot stay stagnant in an ever-changing environment. Perfectionists tend to focus on things they now, thus they are limited in one area, neglecting other aspects of the work. This would bring counter-productive consequences in the long term.

DIY (Do it Yourself) Trap. People predisposed to perfectionism often have such an approach. In order to guarantee a success, to be sure everything is done well and on time, they do not share the workload with team members. This could have two consequences, First, not-cooperating with the team is bad for the overall results. Second, even if the perfectionists carries everything out to a high result, it is not very likely that he might keep up to such results in a long term. Taking too much stress and not properly sharing the workload will most likely provoke negative results. The stress such a person generates might influence other people and their results. So, there is a subtle balance between being in control and effectively delegating workload.

Conclusion and Solutions. In general, a strive to perfection is a noble one. Unfortunately, often it is not practical in the real world. How to change our attitude if we tend to fall into perfectionism? Here are some advices:

  • Don’t painfully seek for perfection.
  • Aim to deliver good results, not to pursue perfect ones.
  • Compromise with yourself, standards, teammates. All put within proper timing, budget and according to the right prioritisation will have decent results. “Aim for your perfection of normality”.