Perfectionism Kills Productivity

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Perfectionism Kills Productivity! Self-improvement is always desirable. Many people strive to improve themselves as much as possible. Additionally, they tend to be their version of “Mr. Perfect.” After all, perfection is desirable. Interestingly, this aspect can be a questionable debate. While it is true that perfection may attract admiration and self-satisfaction, yet it has the power to curb your productivity.

Additionally, being a perfectionist will kill your productivity and result in lower production standards. Ironically, most people fail to realize this negative aspect of perfection. The rugged charm offered by the illusion of perfection may convince them otherwise. Thus, this article focuses on how perfectionism kills your productivity in the following order:

Perfectionist Traits: Signs That You May Be A Perfectionist

If you’re wondering whether or not you’re a Self-Oriented Perfectionist, there’s a good chance you are, at least to a degree. And if we’re being honest here, there’s also a good chance you have some investment in the identity of being a perfectionist because of the positive connotations of the word “perfect”—who doesn’t want to be perfect?

It’s important to educate yourself about what constitutes perfectionism and why it’s seen as a negative thing. You can decide how much you want to work at shrugging off these traits and learn strategies to accomplish your goal.

  • All-or-Nothing Thinking
  • Highly Critical
  • Pushed by Fear
  • Unrealistic Standards
  • Focussed on Results
  • Depressed by Unmet Goals
  • Fear of Failure
  • Procrastination
  • Defensiveness
  • Low Self-Esteem

If you see some of these perfectionist traits in yourself, don’t despair. Recognizing that a change may be needed is a very important first step toward creating a more easygoing nature and achieving the inner peace and real success that comes from overcoming perfectionism and being able to say that “almost perfect” is still a job very well done.

What Are Perfectionism And Productivity?

In simple terms, perfectionism means being the “perfect version” of yourself. Many people consider it a desirable trait and something essential for success. Thus, they strive to do everything in the best possible manner. Additionally, some researchers suggest that even believing in the existence of perfection may turn you into a perfectionist, and being a perfectionist kills productivity!

On the other hand, productivity refers to the ability to be creative. However, this creativity must come at a high quality and excellent speed to label you as productive. Thus, producing stuff at a high pace but of low quality, or vice versa, makes you an unproductive person. The ironic connection here is the negative relationship between productivity and perfection. Yes! The more you strive to be perfect, the greater the adverse effect on your productivity. Read below to find out how!

Perfectionism Makes You Less Efficient

When you strive for perfection in the tasks that you do, even when you’ve completed the task, you will linger on to find new ways that you can improve. This lingering process might start off as a quick ten-minute process but can quickly escalate until you find yourself spending an hour or more looking for things to improve. This causes you to spend way too much time on a task that required and puts you behind schedule.

You Stop Believing In Unimportant Decisions

Productivity requires a quick decision of unimportant issues. Otherwise, they become an obstacle to your speed and quality. Generally, a normal person allots time to decisions proportional to their importance. So, an unimportant decision will take less than a few minutes of a normal person’s time. However, the scenario changes when you strive for perfection.

Perfectionism kills productivity, but you can allow extra time for every decision you make, in hopes to make them better. Furthermore, most perfectionists consider hasty decisions imperfect, which goes against their life motto. Similarly, the situation does not improve if they do make a hasty decision. Instead, they take more time to reconsider it, trying to make it perfect.

All these aspects waste precious time that can be devoted to more important issues. Consequently, their productivity reduces, and they cannot perform to their potential in the given time frame.

All these aspects waste precious time that can be devoted to more important issues. Consequently, their productivity reduces, and they cannot perform to their potential in the given time frame.

You Become Less Effective

As a perfectionist, you probably do little things because they seem like a good addition. However, you fail to consciously think whether those additions are necessary. Sometimes, those additions not only fail to add value but might even ruin things.

Why Being A Perfectionist Will Kill Your Productivity!

You Overburden Yourself With Overdeliver

As a perfectionist, you tend to compare your output with the people around you. However, this aspect presents a logical fallacy: if everyone else is imperfect, your output must be better than others. Consequently, most perfectionists end up overburdening themselves, trying to come up with ways to overdeliver.

However, this approach reduces your productivity massively. Suppose you take $ 500 for a job that requires you to work for 2 hours. However, in your strife to achieve perfection, you spend 10 hours on the job. This situation results in less output being produced in more time. Additionally, the difference in quality from a 2-hour job is usually minimal. Consequently, your strife for being a perfectionist killed your productivity and costs you more time for less output and earning.

You Tend to Procrastinate

When you have perfectionist tendencies, you often wait for the perfect moment, which tends to overcomplicate a project. What is a simple task, might get blown out of proportion, to the extent that it then becomes intimidating subconsciously. This causes you to procrastinate on working on it because you are waiting for the ever “perfect” moment before you begin. Unfortunately, this perfect moment never happens until it’s too late.

You Miss the Bigger Picture

Since you are too hung up on the little details, you tend to forget about the bigger picture and the end goal. It isn’t uncommon to see better jobs in pruning the trees than the growth of the forest.

Stress And Annoyance

We all know that stress and being a perfectionist kills productivity. Also, it may lead to health problems and depression, which, too, are productivity suppressants. Thus, a productive person tends to avoid situations that accumulate stress. However, a person seeking perfection is always prone to anxiety. Why? The main reason is that while imperfection occurs frequently, perfection requires extreme effort and consistency. Thus, wherever a person loses these characteristics, imperfection may occur. For normal people, such imperfection is meaningless. However, perfectionists may feel stressed and annoyed in the same situation. Consequently, perfectionism curtails their productivity by inducing stress.

Moreover, stress negatively impacts innovation and creativity. Additionally, a perfectionist feels the strive only to be creative if they can produce the best output. Consequently, their stress levels compromise their productivity by curbing their intuitiveness.

You Fuss Over Unfounded Problems

Most perfectionists tend to anticipate problems before they pop up and develop solutions to address the issues. It ends up becoming an obsession to pre-empt potential problems. Unfortunately, most of the problems that you envision never surface or they do not really matter as much as you thought they would. 

While striving to aim for higher standards isn’t’ a bad thing, when the quest for perfection turns into an obsession, it will quickly kill your productivity. The answer is not to stop striving for perfection, but rather to be conscious of your perfectionist tendencies and manage them accordingly. 

Perfectionism is not as much the desire for excellence, as it is the fear of failure couched in procrastination.

Dan Miller

You Are Seeking A Subjective Idea

Sometimes, seeking perfection proves a barrier to the completion of projects. The perfectionist may find it challenging to start a work they feel afraid to perform imperfectly. Such delays reduce productivity as they waste time and compromise the quality of the final output. Another issue here is procrastination. Fear of imperfection leaves a perfectionist with minimal time to start and complete the project. This situation results in severe productivity losses.

How To Stop Being A Perfectionist

Perfection Increases Procrastination

Many perfectionists spend a lot of time determining the best strategy to complete the work. Similarly, they try to come up with innovative ideas to ensure the best output. However, this approach does not align well with the current pace of corporate life. Most projects require completion on short deadlines.

Additionally, some projects require deliverables at certain time gaps. However, different types of procrastination can reduce a perfectionist’s productivity. Thus, they keep waiting for the better idea that never comes.

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

~ Ann Lamott

How To Correct The Issue?

Being a perfectionist is not a bad thing. Some aspects of your life may require perfection to succeed. However, perfectionists must find a balance between trying to be perfect and being productive. If your perfectionism reduces your productivity, try following the standard quality. Additionally, a perfectionist must trust his decisions. Rethinking and reconsidering decisions reduces your productivity by wasting valuable time. Seek the advice of someone you trust if you are underconfident about a decision. Your focus must be on eliminating time wastage from your routine. Another method is to list down activities that create an immense drive of perfection within you. Then, try reducing the influence of each activity on your productivity one by one. Over time, you can eliminate the adverse aspects of perfectionism on your productivity.

Actionable Steps To Help Break The Perfectionism

  • Shift your focus from perfecting your work to finishing it. Start slowly. Apply this shift in focus to a single task.
  • Ask yourself whether the time and effort you plan to invest will help you to achieve a specific goal.
  • Create obstacles that “short-circuit” your habit for perfectionism: e.g. stand up from your desk and walk away the moment you notice yourself trying to perfect something you’re working on.   Take a moment to recalibrate your focus toward completing the task at hand rather than perfecting it.
  • Embrace your mistakes ~ Instead of criticizing yourself, use mistakes as learning opportunities. Use them to expand your knowledge, improve your work habits, and become a better entrepreneur.
  • Identify the worst possible outcome that can occur if you make a mistake: e.g example, if your blog post contains a misspelled word will you lose clients.  Chances are, you and your blog post survive.


Perfectionism, like any other characteristic, is desirable in controlled conditions. However, human life is dynamic, and productivity determines your success. Thus, a perfectionist must learn to align their drive for perfection with their routines. They can perform most tasks better by achieving this balance.

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Theresa A Simons

Theresa A Simons

Theresa is a family woman, an entrepreneur, the bold & visionary Founder of and Co-Founder of ATS L.E.D. Suppliers. Theresa manages Bermuda’s first full LED showroom, happily delivers expert advice on filing & storage, scanning, photo-copying, invoicing & billing, collection calling, and document shredding. She enjoys writing, cooking, and travelling.

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