Procrastination, Perfectionism and Self-Care

ProcrastinateOver the years it’s become clearer and clearer to me that there’s a huge link between these two P’s, at least in my own life!

I had another very good example a few weeks ago.

I was in the process of creating an online program about Self-Care and needed to start typing an Action Guide with detailed instructions for the exercises and actions of Module 1.

I’d been postponing it for 2 days. Ugh…

I had indeed made a start – with all sorts of things like typing the basic headings, a small introduction and making it pretty. Everything but the actual content. And I knew very well that I was going to have to do it sometime soon because the start date was around the corner.

I don’t know about you, but for me procrastinating feels really unpleasant. Yet it happens often especially when there’s a big project or task on my plate.

The topic of the online program was “Savvy Self-Care Strategies for Busy People.” How ironic. Busy people surely shouldn’t postpone?? And procrastination is definitely not good self-care! On that particular day, I was getting incredibly frustrated with not doing what I knew I “should” be doing. I’d been sitting by the computer for hours, gratefully completing all the other tasks. Just not “the big one”.

After hours of depleting my own energy by knowing what I was supposed to do and not doing it, the thought hit me that that was the “old” me. The one who doesn’t take breaks, and then despises the work because I don’t give myself a break and don’t enjoy the work at a do-able pace.

Once that awareness dawned, I decided to go for a 15 minute walk, in the lovely spring weather we were experiencing. Being outside always clears my head, and fuels my energy tanks so I can carry on with my projects.

Tapping is one of my most valuable tools – it always brings a useful insight about a current problem. So while I did my self-care walk to clear the cobwebs, I decided to tap happily along about my frustration with my procrastination habit. I left out the KC points to get straight to the tapping, and it went something like this:

I’m so frustrated with myself
All this procrastination!!
I always procrastinate with big projects
It’s because I don’t know where to start!
The job looks too big
Plus, I want someone else to tell me how to do it so it’ll be perfect
I want this document to be perfect
I really get frustrated when I postpone like this
All because I want the thing to be perfect
It’s too much trouble to go through the whole process if it won’t come out perfect
I want someone else to give me the steps to follow, so the end result will be ‘just right” and I don’t have to do any rework

Then it dawned on me that it’s ridiculous to expect that a work of creation can have “steps” to follow. It’s creation, after all – which means it’s brand new. No-one can tell me how to do it, not even me. I’m creating it one step at a time.

Another thought arose – a very relieving one.

What if I can just do one piece of this document, and then the next?
What if one little completed piece of it will put me in the mood and give me the momentum to finish the rest?
I can do one little piece, that’s do-able!

I often get hung up on the “bigness” of the project. It’s BIG. It’s going to take long. I want to do it quickly!! And then I can’t get started because it’s so BIG. Putting a huge fear into myself with the self-talk!

More tapping:

Even though this looks so BIG, maybe I can just do one little piece?
Maybe one little piece is do-able?
That feels better! I can go home now for one piece.

And then after bit more tapping on “I still want it to be perfect!”, the thought arose “Well, whose version of perfect?”

I suddenly thought how I want it to be perfect so that it’ll make sense to the participants in the course. I previously believed that if it wasn’t “perfect”, they just wouldn’t understand what I was trying to say to them, and it would not be valuable.

So more tapping on “I want it to be perfect, so perfect that they’ll LOVE it and want more.”

It has to be perfect!
Whose version of perfect?
Feels like I want THEM to be happy.
It needs to be perfect for THEM.

And then – the best thought of all burst to the surface….

If they’re on my course because they didn’t know the information I’m going to teach them – it’s NEW to them. How will they be able to judge whether it’s perfect or not?? They simply can’t. It’ll be new, for them. Whose version of perfect does it need to be then? MINE obviously. And I can decide what’s “perfect” for now. Whatever I type on that Word document – THAT’S going to be what’s perfect, I promptly decided.

Aaaah. Tapping is wonderful. It clears the stress, wipes away the cobwebs, so clear thinking and aha’s are possible.

My brain could work again and I could get on to the first little piece of the Action Guide.

Where do you find that you procrastinate? Does your wish to have it be “perfect” play a role? Id’ love to hear in the comments where perfectionism and procrastination show up for you.

photo credit: Cliph via photopin cc

Liesel Teversham
Liesel Teversham

Liesel helps sensitive introverts to see their sensitivity as a superpower, love their work and practice awesome self-care so they can be energized and make a difference in a meaningful and fulfilling way. She helps them to overcome the fear of being visible, avoiding the spotlight and conflict, being ‘too nice’, perfectionism and procrastination.

She’s the author of “No Problem. The Upside of Saying No”, which is a handbook for those who struggle to say no, are overwhelmed and exhausted.

Click here to read about the book.

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5 Comments

  1. Pam Fitros

    Liesel,

    I had to laugh right out loud as I read your post. You were “singing my life with your song,” as the lyrics go. My biggest bugaboo used to be housework. I read a book in which that perfectionism was discussed. It was called Sidetracked Home Executives.

    Two slob-by sisters decided to change their lifestyles and so encouraged each other to overcome procrastination by not buying into the all or nothing of perfectionism.

    One day one of the women wanted to renege on washing her kitchen floor before there luncheon meeting because she couldn’t get it all done right in time.

    The other sister told her to do just two squares of the vinyl flooring. She figured if her sister went to all the trouble of getting the pail out and filling it with water and detergent and started on the two squares, she’d be through the hard part and finish.

    When they met for lunch the sister who had said to wash just two squares smiled and asked how many squares her sister had actually washed.

    “Two,” she replied proudly.

    They both laughed and thoroughly enjoyed their time together. The sky didn’t fall because on only two squares got cleaned.

    Sometimes, Liesel, as my Greek says, “The nuff ez the nuff.”

    Reply
    • Pam Fitros

      That would be their rather than there. lol. Nap time.

      Reply
    • Liesel Teversham

      LOVE the story, Pam – thanks so much for sharing!! Today, I’ll just do one thing (two squares) – nuff!!

      Reply
  2. Moreen Torpy

    Love this post Liesel! And you’re right on the money with how to avoid doing things. Isn’t it interesting how any other activity can fill in for what’s most important?

    Here’s my latest procrastination experience. I was doing a role play with my virtual organizing coach who asked about the contents of a box that was out of place in its location. When I listed those contents, including the resource material for a book I intend to write about procrastination, we both had a good laugh about the resources still being in that box and not anywhere near being used!

    I believe that procrastination and perfectionism are two sides of the same coin. The feeling that “it” must be done perfectly is enough justification to postpone doing it, procrastinating. If we all did what you did, much more would actually get done!

    Reply
    • Liesel Teversham

      Thanks so much Moreen – and oh, I stumble over these twins so often! I love your experience with the resources box – isn’t that crazy?? We are works in progress and actually, I love that about us!
      Thanks for being here, and sharing, Moreen – I appreciate you!

      Reply

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