Perfectionism is something that all creatives need to overcome. It’s okay to have pride in a job well done. However, when that leads to you wasting hours on something you’d scrap and the stress builds up, it is time to rethink your workflow.
I’m guilty of being a perfectionist.
I am one of those perfectionists. I will scrap entire projects and deliverables if they are not up to my standards. Plans are carefully made and deadlines are essential. While I do have some flexibility, I always strive to do better. It sounds admirable that I don’t want to put out sub-par work, but is it really worth it?
Isn’t perfectionism desirable though?
The short answer: no.
It is good to have some degree of a perfectionist attitude in the sense of having quality standards for the work you have to produce. Clients and employers alike are looking for people with those traits because they bring value to them.
What makes perfectionism undesirable is the stress and intense need for everything to be perfect. The right word, image, and format are a must or the end product is not up to standard. The perfectionist puts undue stress on themselves because, by nature, everything can be improved in some way. Sometimes, this can lead to perfectionists procrastinating on their work because they are focused on having the perfect start to the project.
I need to become a producer of quality work, not ‘perfect’ work.
Producers of quality work don’t focus on everything being perfect. They focus on the end result: a quality product to the client or employer. It may not be their best work but it can be improved upon with collaborative feedback. They get started on their tasks in a reasonable time-frame. They use each project as a learning experience to do better, not on how their work is ‘perfect.’
When I started making these posts regularly, it started as an experiment to break away from thinking that my writing needs to be perfect before publishing online. I purposefully would choose to write when I can’t allow myself to think twice. I would write while waiting for a meeting to start. I would write when I really felt like I should take a nap instead. I would write when I told my support network that I was planning to write and they would nag me about seeing what I have so far.
Overall, this approach has worked for me and I plan to continue using it.
It’s hard to break the mindset that ‘quality’ means ‘perfect.’
Despite my approach working most of the time, I still struggle to not delete entire pages of writing because I didn’t like the flow of a section or the descriptions were lacking. I can find myself still making excuses why the time isn’t right to start on another project or contact a prospective client.
The point is to recognize and break down the ‘why.’ Why do you have to scrap that piece? What is wrong with starting now compared to starting later?
If it comes down to something related to “everything must be perfect,” you have to tell yourself that is no longer a valid excuse. You may need to write or record yourself saying that. You have to do whatever gets you to minimize or redirect that perfectionist where it isn’t hindering your creative process.
If you’re a fellow perfectionist, I have a challenge for you. Find time to create your craft when you can’t think twice about it, whether it is just when you’re waking up or needing to pass the time while waiting on something to happen.
Let yourself become a producer of quality work, not perfect work.