Saturday, January 2, 2016

Saturday Suggestion: Perfection Promotes Procrastination.

Today's Saturday Suggestion is to strive for good enough, as I believe it is a desire for perfection that leads to procrastination.

Thomas Jefferson's Ten Rules are still applicable today
This poster hangs in my laundry room where I see it daily, and this advice given by Thomas Jefferson is still very applicable today.
His first rule cautions us to avoid procrastination.
As regular readers of this blog know, I have been posting less than usual throughout the past month. Reasons were varied: a little bit of blogger burnout, some social media fatigue, and some self-doubt about whether I really have anything worthwhile to say. My decision to pull back, however, mostly stemmed from a
desire to focus fully on my family and enjoying the holiday season.

I almost didn't write a post for today. This blog, however, has been too much fun to produce and I've made too many wonderful connections through it, to just let it slip away. I know there is a way to juggle all of life's demands. For me, this means finding a balance between living life fully, figuring out my comfort level on social media, and making time to pursue other writing opportunities besides these posts. One of my goals for 2016 is to make that all happen.

Whenever I had a spare moment for blogging in the past week or two, I have spent it trying to get caught up with other blogs I enjoy and like to support. Today, I turned my attention back to the comment section of my own blog - and realized it has been days since I responded to any comments. I always appreciate it when someone takes the time to write a comment, and I feel bad when I fail to offer a prompt response. Like so many things in life, my replies could have easily been offered throughout the week, but now have become a fairly large and outdated task.

I think procrastination often stems from a desire for perfection. A perfectionist can produce excellent results, but just as often that personality trait can paralyze efforts and lead to no results at all. Another of my goals for 2016 is to become better at striving for "good enough" when perfection isn't required.

I think it is actually easier to begin a task when you expect the result to be "good enough" instead of "perfect." A project is more easily completed when we stop trying to fine tune something that is already satisfactory or good enough. "Good enough" does not mean being satisfied with publishing a work full of spelling and grammatical errors, or haphazardly completing a household renovation, or turning in an incomplete homework assignment. It is realizing when the work you have done satisfactorily meets the need, and there is no reason to spend any more time on it.

I am not suggesting that we all begin to feel good about producing shoddy work or stop caring about the end result. I do think, however, it is important to understand how much effort is really required. Knowing when "enough is enough" and the ability to give yourself permission to say, "I'm satisfied that I have done my best" are important skills to develop.

I suspect that if I can learn to follow my own suggestion here today, I will be more productive in everything I do and just as happy with my results.

Does a desire for perfection cause you to procrastinate? 
What do you think of my suggestion?

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13 comments :

  1. Yes, your suggestion is valid. This is something I have preached all my life as well. The motto I live by is what my father taught me: Do it Right; Do it Now. I never procrastinate and that takes a lot of effort and determination - but WORTH it!!

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    1. Your father tayght you well Carol. I must admit, even though I know I shouldn't I often put off doing things until I have a deadline that must be met.

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    2. Oops - taught not tayght! That comment of mine was not quite perfect enough ;)

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  2. Great post and I need to remember this. So often I wait too long trying to find the perfect post, perfect photo, perfect thing to say, etc.. Great reminder sometimes the most important thing you can do is to just do it!

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    1. I know what you mean! I think I actually wrote this as a reminder for myself. Thanks for stopping by and your nice comment!

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  3. Oh yes it is true. And also true on a more personal and painful level. How many of us genuinely believe that they are 'enough". I suspect most of us (me certainly) beat ourselves up for not achieving impossible goals.

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  4. For many years I'd talk myself out doing things because I thought I wouldn't be good enough. This followed by not doing it. I wrote about this myself in a blog post. I've managed to get over this hurdle and realized it wasn't getting me anywhere. Oddly, starting a blog has been the one leap I needed. Just keep doing what feels right. 😄

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  5. I think a need for perfection leads to fear of failure and therefore procrastination....if you never get started you can't fail.

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  6. I tend to procrastinate a lot. And I'm definitely a perfectionist. Those two don't go together very well, do they? Thanks for the reminder today Susan!

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  7. I am in the same boat. I hadn't thought of it like that before, but that's exactly it. It wears a person out! I'm behind too. The holidays and everything else. I just can't seem to focus. I jump around to much and then don't accomplish anything.

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  8. being a perfectionist at heart I totally understand where you're coming from Susan. I often wonder where people with families or full time work find the time to blog regularly. I have trouble fitting it in and I have oodles of time! Cutting ourselves a little bit of slack is probably the kindest thing we can do at times.

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  9. I could have written this post! I have such ambitions, such grand illusions of all of the things I want to do but then I am so worried about not doing anything as well as I dreamed I would, that I am almost paralyzed toward doing anything at all. Wow, does that even make sense? Please keep blogging so I don't feel alone! I question the purpose of my own blogging and take breaks but keep going back. You keep coming back, too!

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  10. Beautiful post and I need to remember this. Very interesting.

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Many thanks to everyone who leaves a comment here!