3 Tips To Stop Being A Procrastinating Perfectionist

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If you find yourself procrastinating because you want everything to be perfect, welcome to the club!

As a fellow procrastinating perfectionist, I’m sure you can imagine how long it took me to write and edit this post, let alone sit down to actually type it out!

Most likely, if you’ve found yourself here because part of you wants to stop procrastinating and start before everything feels perfect. But the other part of you really wants to cling to that perfectionism, and doesn’t see the point of doing something if it can’t be done perfectly.

Both parts of you exist. They are both are valid. And both are useful!

Right now, the part of you that wants everything to be perfect is winning. And that’s okay.

It’s telling you that if google how to stop procrastinating, that it will magically inspire you to start doing whatever it is you need to do. And that part of you is able to feel productive while not having to actually do the thing you’re trying to do.

That part of you also wants you to do well! To not just waste your time doing something if it isn’t absolutely perfect.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that part of you is also engaging in an avoidance tactic that is prolonging the action-taking. And although it’s helping you do good work once you actually start, it’s probably making you feel a little guilty for not starting.

This list short and sweet so you can satisfy the part of you that wants everything to be perfect, while also listening to the part of you that doesn’t want to procrastinate any longer.

Here are 3 tips that helped me get off of the couch, sit at my desk, and type up this blog post, imperfectly.

Remember Your Why

It has been a long week. I taught a course, flew down to Florida, and had back-to-back therapy sessions all day. The last thing I wanted to do this afternoon was sit at my computer and write this post. To be honest, I almost didn’t do it. 

But as I reflect, I’m realizing that somewhere deep inside, my why was calling out to me. 

Your why is important, because it’s what inspires you to feel motivated. It encapsulates what you value. It’s your hope for your life, your vision, your purpose. 

So take a few moments to think through your why. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What hopes do I have for my life/business/health and how will taking action help me get there?
  • How do I think I’ll feel once I’ve taken action?
  • What is my main purpose for taking action? 
  • In what ways would my life be different if I took action? Both in the short-term, and the long-term?

Write down your answers. Draw a scene of your vision. Talk about it with friends, with family, your therapist. Take time to reflect on your why, and really own it!

When you find yourself in that place, thinking you should take action but you want everything to be perfect first, your why will be there, etched deep inside of you, reminding you of your purpose.

Doing Something Imperfectly Is Better Than Doing Nothing

I’m actually doing this right now. My original blog post for this week was going to require a lot of research. I wasn’t feeling it. So I said to myself, “Maybe I can come up with a different topic. Something that won’t take as long. I’ll try that instead.”

Which is how you’ve found yourself on a post about how to stop procrastinating!

So if your plan was to do something for an hour, but in the moment that isn’t realistic, IT’S OKAY TO ADJUST! Try 20 minutes instead. 

Or, if in your mind, taking action means you have to complete a whole task, dial it back a bit. Take baby steps, or little nibbles.

You’ll feel better about doing something imperfectly rather than nothing at all.

The reality is, I started this post on a Thursday afternoon after a day of seeing clients. I completed about 75% of it until I ran out of steam. And now I’m finishing up the rest the following Friday morning.

I’m glad I adjusted, because if I stuck to the original plan, I don’t know if I would have been able to find the motivation to even get started. Which brings me to…

Give Yourself 7 Minutes

I heard once that it takes 7 minutes to push through that initial resistance you feel when starting a task. I think it was on the Huberman podcast (which btw, if you haven’t listened to his podcast OMG IT IS SO GOOD!! I highly recommend it!!!).

But it makes sense. As I started typing this, I definitely slogged my way through some ideas, hoping to conjure something intelligible. Anything! And after a few minutes, my thoughts started to come together. 

It takes time to warm up when we start something – whether it is to sit down and think, or get up and move our bodies, or put some paint to paper. There is a period that we have to push through, before we can feel immersed in the task at hand. Like we are actually making some headway.

But once you get through that first little hump of starting, you may be surprised to find yourself doing some deep work. And being in a state of deep work feels oh-so-good.

You’ve probably heard it a million times – the hardest part is starting. There is truth to that. Give yourself 7 minutes, then see how you feel. 

“But Nothing Is Working!”

If you’ve scoured the internet and listened to every podcast to try to get yourself to stop procrastinating but nothing is working, your procrastination could be about more than perfectionism – it could be a symptom of depression.

You may not realize that your lack of motivation is about a more deeply rooted belief about yourself, or hopelessness about the future.

If that’s the case, there is hope. You can learn to rewire some of those deeply rooted thought patterns by going to therapy. And end up saving yourself much more time once you stop procrastinating.

If you live in New York, reach out here, or look at my services page to see if we might be a good fit for working together. And please reach out if you’d like to schedule an appointment.

If you found this article helpful, please like and share it below. And let me know – did any of these tips help?

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Hi! I'm Paige

therapist williamsburg brooklyn

I’m a Licensed Psychotherapist based in NYC. 

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