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Paralyzed by Perfectionism? Try Rethinking Your To-Do List

https://doist.com/blog/dealing-with-perfectionism-todo-list/

doist.com

Paralyzed by Perfectionism? Try Rethinking Your To-Do List
Perfectionism has, time and again, undermined my efforts to achieve what's most important to me. Until recently, I put off pursuing what I longed to do - exploring a career change and moving abroad - because I imagined all of the ways I might fail or be disappointed.

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Perfectionism and to-do lists

To-do lists can help perfectionists move past our paralysis. They may find making a list to be a reassuring guide to their day.

But there's also a risk: to-do lists can backfire if they become yet another report card we perfectionists use to evaluate ourselves too harshly.

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Break down projects

 ... into manageable tasks. 

This way, you're armed with a set of concrete actions to take rather a vague cloud of high expectations.

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Define the next action

... rather than all subsequent steps.

Focusing only on the next action gives you permission to work on something even if you don’t have it all figured out—which is crucial to completing tasks that in the past have left you paralyzed.

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Set priorities

... by designating A, B, C, and F Tasks.

  • A tasks: These are what you’ll give most of your time and energy to. Work on these during the time of day when you have the most energy and focus. 
  • B tasks: Leave these tasks for lower energy times of day or batch them together on a particular day later in the week.
  • C tasks: These are tasks that you’ll want to give the least of your energy to.
  • F tasks: Try to delegate or automate these tasks as much as possible. 

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Set a realistic schedule

Assign your tasks a time limit to force yourself to not get lost in perfecting each and every detail. 

Often, perfectionists bite off more than we can chew — one consequence of not prioritizing.

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Focus on process goals

... rather than outcome goals.

We often become so focused on the end result of a project that we don’t appreciate and enjoy (or ever really get started on) the process.

The satisfaction of small wins keeps us intrinsically motivated.

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Positive and destructive perfectionism

Positive and destructive perfectionism

Constructive or healthy perfectionism is a personality trait that is associated with finding enjoyment and fulfilment from doing things well. The focus is process-oriented,...

The roots of destructive perfectionism

A possible explanation of why people develop unhealthy perfectionism is that they grow up without a sense of support, safety, and nurturing. Another reason can be a reaction to childhood trauma or extreme cultural expectations, where appearing perfect is a strategy for survival.

The consequence of destructive perfectionism is often deep-seated emotional difficulties and unresolved traumatic experiences that might eventually turn into a potentially severe depression.

Traits of a perfectly hidden depression syndrome

  1. Your perfectionism is fueled by a constant, critical inner voice of intense shame or fear.
  2. You demonstrate an excessive sense of responsibility and look for solutions.
  3. You are unable to accept and express painful emotions.
  4. You dismiss or discount abuse or trauma.
  5. You worry a lot and avoid situations where you're not in control.
  6. You are highly focused on tasks and expectations and validate yourself with your accomplishments.
  7. You have an active and sincere concern for the wellbeing of others, while seldom allowing anyone into your inner world.
  8. You feel you have to acknowledge your gratitude.
  9. You have emotional difficulty with personal intimacy.
  10. You might have anxiety and control issues, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), panic and eating disorders.

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Work in chunks

Our brain focuses best in short spurts, so dedicating 25 minutes to one activity, taking a five-minute break, and then resuming that activity or switching to another activity for another 25 minu...

Make planning a habit

Make planning a habit

Some mornings we feel motivated to create a to-do list, but that is often the exception. We need to get things done, even when we feel disengaged.

Start by setting ...

Align your to-do list with goals

  1. Break down your big goals into daily tasks. You can't add "Get in shape" to your daily to-do list, but you can add "spend 30 minutes on my bike."
  2. Consider your week as a whole. You likely have multiple goals. Some goals benefit from daily activity, while working towards others a few times a week can create momentum.
  3. Add your have-to-do tasks last. We often fill our to-do lists with have-to-do tasks that crowd the whole day. Adding it last forces you to fit your have-to-do tasks around your goal tasks.

Have one daily priority

Many of us start our mornings with dozens of things we need to get done, but later realize that we haven't crossed any of them off our lists. We did get stuff done, but none of the things we planned.

A balm against hectic days that pass without progress is to choose a single activity to prioritize and protect in your calendar. If you struggle to select your top priority, ask yourself, when you look back on your day, what do you want the highlight to be? That's your priority.