Hung Up on Perfect
I start a lot of projects; I don’t always finish them all. Sometimes I get bored or I “figure out” the project before it is completed and the project looses its appeal or I get distracted. Often I get hung up on perfect.
In my mind, I’m not a “perfectionist.” I don’t feel the need to be perfect or have everything be perfect. I do, however, often feel I could complete a project better if… I had more time, more money, more resources, more…. something. Lately I’ve been taking this problem – because it is a problem – head on. It’s time to stop procrastinating.
Let me just interject here that “project” has a fairly loose definition. It can be anything as mundane as cleaning out a closet to something way more interesting, like writing a book. Size and scope of the project seem to have little bearing on my ability to complete it!
Tactics to Stop Procrastinating:
1. Don’t get distracted: Keep the original goal in the forefront.
Why did I take on the project to begin with? Cleaning out my clothes closet is not on the “fun project” list, but I know I need to get rid of stuff that’s not being used. The “do it better” me wants to completely re-do the closet: new shelving, new hangers, new containers, and everything will look like it could be on the cover of a DIY magazine on organizing. “Realistic” me knows that just going through and pulling out the clothes I no longer wear (ever) and the things I no longer use (why did I buy that wide-brimmed hat?) will make a world of difference.
Unfortunately, “realistic” me walks into that closet and “do it better” me butts in within minutes. The trick is to keep “do it better” me in check. There is always more that can be done. And truthfully, until the closet is decluttered, you can’t know what the “right” closet organizers are. Furthermore, if any other unfinished projects emerge from the closet (that box of photos that should be scrapbooked, for instance), “do it better” morphs into “that’s more fun, do that instead” me.
No! Stand firm! Goal for this project is: get rid of stuff. If I keep reminding myself of that, then “do it better” me can sit in a corner and pout while “realistic” me tackles the goal.
2. Plan ahead to make the process smoother.
This is one with which I’m getting better. Nothing is more discouraging than being all pumped up about a project only to dig in and find you are missing something. It can be disastrous if that something is critical; or potentially enlightening if you figure out a way not to need that missing something. Either way though, it is frustrating and time consuming, both of which take away from “getting it done.” So take a moment to think about what you need in order to complete the project before you delve into the project itself.
3. Set time boundaries.
What is the amount of time that is appropriate for the project? For writing a blog post, I like to set aside a couple of hours. It should probably take less than that, but I feel that’s a reasonable amount of time. If the post seems to be taking much longer, than it either needs to be broken down into multiple posts (perhaps I have a lot to say?!), or it’s not ready yet (the words just aren’t flowing). I also have a time boundary in the sense that I set a deadline for when I want to post. Without that I am likely to put off publishing a post so I can tweak it a bit further. Nope. Have to get it done today. Which leads me to my fourth point:
4. As is, is better than not at all.
Which is, of course, much like saying finished is better than perfect. Only this doesn’t have to apply to finished. My closet is better even if I only get to clean off one shelf. It’s not finished, but it’s better than not cleaning that one shelf at all. Publishing this post today, even if some part of me thinks that four tactics is somehow not as good as five (odd numbers are better, right?) and I’m sure with a little more time I could think of something else to add… Nope. It’s time to hit the “publish” button (as soon as I find an appropriate photo to accompany this post, of course).
[By the way, one can come back a year and a half later and tweak things in the post. Just saying.]