Little Miss Perfect has many problems. Not only does she never think she’s smart enough, pretty enough, or anything-enough, she may also have a tendency to procrastinate—or so suggests a recent article in the New York Times.
In an attempt to figure out the root causes behind procrastination, a form of task avoiding that many of us have elevated to a fine art, NYTimes writer Phyllis Korkki called on several experts who identified a tendency toward perfectionism as one of the major factors that keep people on the wrong side of their To Do list.
According to the article, procrastinators and perfectionists share several characteristics in common. For example, both are sensitive to how others perceive them and both have a fear of being judged on their efforts.
Joseph R. Ferrari, author of Still Procrastinating? The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done told Korkki that procrastinators are “extremely concerned about what other people think of them.” As a result, they may unconsciously avoid completing a task, thinking, “If I never finish, I can never be judged,” he explained.
While perfectionists may fear negative judgments, however, perfectionists may fear the consequences of positive ones too, said Ferrari: “If I do well, you might expect more from me next time, and I don’t know if I can come through,” said Ferrari.
So, how can Little Miss Perfect stop worrying about what other people think and start getting things done finally?
Experts suggest that perfectionists/procrastinators start finding the virtue in “progress” over perfection.
One way to start that process is to begin counting the steps toward a goal rather than fixating on the goal itself. For example, if you’re putting off reorganizing your closet, or sitting down and doing your taxes, break the task down into manageable bite-size portions.
To sweeten the deal: reward yourself afterwards for a job half-done with something you like, a cupcake, a hot bath, or a hot bath with a cupcake.