Behavioral psychologist Chantal van der Leest examines our behavior in the workplace: who or what determines our daily decisions? Today: procrastination.
“Did you make all that video?” My friend already knows the answer. No, I haven’t made a video for my site yet. I’d like to introduce myself a little more personally on my company website, but I’m putting off that job indefinitely. Why? No idea. ,,Because you’re a wimpy layabout’, nags a critical voice in my head. Sure, sometimes I am. There are dresses in my closet that never see the light of day because I’m too lazy to iron them.
But this video is really important to me and yet I’m postponing it. Perhaps my involvement is the problem. I think it is so important that it becomes a beautiful video, that in my head it has become an insurmountable large project. To do it really well, I might have to have several cameras, a good microphone and nice light. I need professional makeup, have to go to the hairdresser and take a vlogging course. I also have to learn video editing and find a program for it. I’m breaking a sweat just thinking about it. How am I ever going to finish this?
Notorious procrastinators are often seen as lazy, but it could just be that they – just like me – suffer from perfectionism. These wretches don’t benefit at all from a stern sermon and a proverbial kick in the ass. They burn themselves enough already. The longer they delay, the more their confidence crumples, like that linen dress in my closet. Until they finally have no idea what to do next.
These wretches don’t benefit at all from a strict sermon and a proverbial kick in the ass
How do you prevent projects from coming to a complete standstill due to perfectionism? The first step, as is so often the case, is understanding yourself. Oh, look at you wrestling. Then you see if the bar can be lowered a bit. What is the minimum you want to achieve? Delete all unnecessary improvements. Well, that feels manageable, although it remains a large project. Yet anyone can eat an elephant, as long as you do it bit by bit. Write down all the partial steps and see if you can already do something. Hey, you’re on your way again. Most importantly, tap your left shoulder with your right hand every now and then. Well done, buddy.
Would you like to know more about psychology and work? Read Chantal’s books Why Perfectionists Are Rarely Happy, 13 Tips Against Perfectionism (2021) and Our Fallible Thinking at Work (2018).
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