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Paralyzed by Perfectionism? Try Rethinking Your To-Do List

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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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Paralyzed by Perfectionism? Try Rethinking Your To-Do List

Paralyzed by Perfectionism? Try Rethinking Your To-Do List

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

doist.com

6

Key Ideas

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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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Do a weekly review to reflect on your progress
Do a weekly review to reflect on your progress

Try to identify things you avoided due to fear of failure and situations where your perfectionism wasn’t worth it or moments where you did well despite being uncertain.

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Get an outside perspective on your perfectionist tendencies

Talk honestly and openly to someone about your tendencies and how you’re working on getting better.

Ask them to tell you when you are being too fussy about something so you can think about it.

Interrupting the cycle of rumination
  • Take note of when you’re ruminating and what triggers it until you can see your patterns and find ways to counteract them.
  • Don't trust your first reaction when ruminating. Most of the time, it colors negatively your read of the situation.
  • Seek a diversion to break the rumination cycle.
  • Think positively: remembering your successes and times you tried new things helps you to not be avoidant of tasks you can’t do perfectly.

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Learn To Handle Criticism
Learn To Handle Criticism

If criticism makes you defensive, an attitude change can help.

Constructive criticism can show you how to improve, making your less-than-perfect performanc...

Set Reasonable Goals

Perfectionists tend to set goals of unreasonable excellence with no learning curve or room for error.

Dividing your goals into more achievable steps and rewarding yourself when you achieve them, will make you less stressed, less likely to give up and more forgiving of mistakes.

Alter Your Self-Talk In a Positive Way

Perfectionists tend to be very self-critical but this can perpetuate unhealthy behaviors and decrease their self-esteem.

By altering your self-talk positively, you can better enjoy life and gain an increased appreciation for yourself and your work.

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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 pl...

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 the alarm for your daily planning session at the same time every day. Tack your new daily planning session onto an existing habit like drinking your morning coffee.

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.

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