Beat Procrastination: Manage Perfectionism to Boost Productivity

By: Jennifer Chu 

While some people enter a new year feeling energised, others may struggle to shake off the holiday feels and get moving again.

While others are setting goals and making changes, it’s not unusual for some of us to experience procrastination.

There may be many reasons behind procrastination, but in this article we focus on the management of procrastination as a result of perfectionism.

Perfectionism is a style of operation that seeks to achieve perfection. People with this operation system often set very high goals, which could in turn create an undue level of pressure that could paralyse them. If you are experiencing this type of procrastination, the following tips can be helpful for you.

  1. Identify when and where you are the most productive. Is it first thing in the morning? Is it in the local library? Aim to do your work in these situations.
  2. Plan what you need to do. Write down a to-do list. When we have high ambitions sometimes the ideas become muddy and unapproachable. Writing things down on a piece of paper helps to clarify and make tangible what exactly you need to do.
  3. Rank the to-do list items on a hierarchy in relation to the level of difficulty. Often tackling the easiest item on the list does not require too much of your energy, but can energise you as you get something ticked off on the list.
  4. Break down big goals into small goals. Stop focusing on the end result. Set a series of realistic, achievable goals that can eventually lead to the completion of the task, and focus on the goal right in front of you. Once you have done it, allow yourself some reward or break time, before you move on to the next achievable goal.
  5. Aim to do 10 minutes of work. A two-hour job may sound hard to tackle, but don’t forget that any job is made up of many smaller chunks. Break down the job into 10-minute chunks to make it easier to approach. If after 10 minutes you find yourself getting into it, then you can do more of it. But also know that you can take a break after you’ve accomplished 10 minutes of work, as you just need to aim for 10 minutes of work each time.
  6. Get some accountability. Tell a supportive friend or family when you plan to tackle your achievable goal. Get them to check on your progress. This could create a sense of commitment to your work.
  7. Stimulus control. Reduce distractions, create obstacles between you and whatever gives you immediate gratification. If you have a problem of lying down in bed to avoid doing your task, then consider getting out of your bedroom and go to a place (e.g., the library, a café) where it is impossible to do so. Place your phone somewhere further away from you, and close those distracting webpages on your laptop.
  8. Use mindfulness to increase tolerance towards discomfort. Many put off doing work because of the associated feeling of discomfort. Doing the work mindfully could help you detach from the discomfort, therefore improving your tolerance of it. This is done by learning to experience the discomfort in an accepting and non-judgmental way.

Article supplied with thanks to The Centre for Effective Living.

Feature image: Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash 

About the Author: Jennifer Chu is a psychologist who is passionate about therapy, experienced in a range of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, social adjustment issues, stress management, and cross-cultural issues and more.

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