OK, I’ll admit it: I am a perfectionist. And I am pretty sure I’m not the only individual with this character trait in the business world. Just like me, many entrepreneurs strive to offer the highest level of quality for their products and/or services.
However, perfectionism can also have a negative impact on our businesses: it can lead to procrastination, burnout, and other serious health problems. This article will explore a few simple techniques that can be used to combat unhealthy perfectionism and help entrepreneurs build successful businesses.
1. Set realistic goals.
Begin by setting realistic, achievable goals for your business. In other words, be honest with yourself and evaluate with as much objectivity as possible what you can realistically achieve within a given time frame. Define your goals clearly, because this will make it easier to break them down into manageable tasks, and then assign them specific time frames. Of course, if things change, you should review your goals and make the needed adjustments.
2. Learn to prioritize.
It is equally important to prioritize your goals. So, make a list that includes all your responsibilities, along with all the other tasks that are needed to keep the business running. Then prioritize these tasks based on their importance. All the tasks that are urgent and important should be placed at the top of your list, while those that are less significant should be moved to its bottom.
You can use Vilfredo Pareto’s discovery to prioritize tasks, for example. The Pareto principle states that for many outcomes, about 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes. In lay terms, this may mean that about 80% of your business' profits come from 20% of the work that you are doing for a few clients. If this is the case, you should focus your efforts and energy on keeping those 20% of your clients happy.
3. Break big tasks into smaller chunks.
I can't remember how many times I felt overwhelmed due to a huge project on the horizon. Little did I know that my fear would have disappeared for good if I had broken that huge project into much smaller, manageable subprojects/tasks.
To do that, start by identifying the key project components. Ask yourself a few questions, such as: What are the main pieces of the puzzle? What will I need to do to bring this project to completion?
Then, create an action plan. Break down the essential project components into smaller, specific actions and steps. Set up priorities based on their importance, and then create deadlines for each action.
For best results, use a project management platform, which will help you stay organized and show you how the project is progressing. And the feeling of checking off those “task completed” checkboxes at the end of each completed task? Priceless!
Reward yourself for each sub-task that is brought to completion. Listen to your favorite music, or take a stroll in a park, for example. Just think of something you enjoy doing, and know that you'll do it as soon as you complete the task you're working on.
4. Keep the pressure on by setting tight deadlines.
It has been demonstrated that tight deadlines help us stay focused, because they won’t give us enough room to strive for perfection. It is essential to set realistic deadlines for each task, though, rather than setting a global deadline, which can stretch into infinity, for the entire project. By doing this, you will increase your chances of beating perfectionism.
5. Learn to trust others.
I know how you feel, but you may need to let go of some things that aren't essential from a business perspective, and focus on the most important business aspects instead. Sometimes you simply can't do everything on your own, so it's important to learn how to delegate responsibilities to others.
It is crucial to delegate tasks to people you trust, of course. And if you find people you can trust, give them the full autonomy they need to accomplish those tasks. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't check in on their progress regularly, but you should learn to let things go and trust your team members and/or partners. Spend your valuable time doing things only you are qualified to do.