Overcoming Perfectionism – How to Slash Lost Time

The thought of overcoming perfectionism might seem like an overwhelming goal, but if you break it down into smaller bitesize pieces, you can work on it one small step at a time.

If you have any perfectionist tendencies, you might be aware that you lose time when you spend extra hours re-doing and improving and re-doing again. Sometimes you lose time dragging your feet to even start a task or project because you’re worried about starting it off exactly right.

Let’s address another way that perfectionism can cost time: worrying about what will happen if you make a mistake.

Our brains tend to spin out of control when we don’t have a plan. This is a major time leak. So to plug that leak, we’ll create a base for a contingency plan. Our brain will know that we’re ready for that situation, so it’ll stop losing time to that type of worry. Since the worry in this case is what to do if we make a mistake, here’s your three-step plan to let your brain know that “you got this”:

Overcoming Perfectionism Step 1 – Own it.

If a mistake is made or something didn’t go according to plan, acknowledge it. When the brain isn’t prepared to acknowledge, it comes up with all of these second-guessing ideas about how we could have or should have done things. That bogs us down, creates a traffic jam in our heads, and lowers our productivity. Instead, if your brain knows that your immediate first step is acknowledgement, it’ll skip the time-wasting second-guessing so you can move forward.

Overcoming Perfectionism Step 2 – Fix it.

OK, something went wrong. You owned it, now it’s time to fix it. Can you do that yourself? Do you need to ask for someone’s help? Do you need to hire someone? Don’t obsess about this for days. Instead, approach it this way. Walking activates the problem-solving cells in the brain, so go for a 10-minute walk to toss around your options. When you get back, implement your fix it plan.

Overcoming Perfectionism Step 3 – Repay it.

For a minor slip-up, this might be something as simple as saying, “I’m sorry.” For something that wasn’t directly your fault, but you were in charge, perhaps an apology lunch is in order. “That incident came out of left field. I feel bad that it happened on my watch. I’d like to take you out to lunch.” Our brains lose time when we worry about what someone else thinks about our handling of the situation or the guilt that we feel if we make a mistake. Cut that lost time by making amends and starting with a clean slate.

If you have perfectionist tendencies, your brain might already be thinking, “We’ve got to come up with fix it strategies for each person in our book of business or each task or project on our list – before we even get started?”

No. Tell your brain right now, “I will not let you obsess. I will fill in the plan details if and when it is necessary.”

If your brain doesn’t listen to you this first time, hit it with this question: “How will obsessing about the unknown benefit you?”


This small piece of overcoming perfectionism is a huge step forward.

You have the base of your contingency plan: Own it, Fix it, Repay it.

End of losing time to worry – because you have more important things to do.

Remember, time management is all about mind management. You do have the power to tell your time what to do!

About Helene Segura, M.A. Ed., CPO®

As The Inefficiency Assassin™, Time Management Fixer Helene Segura empowers professionals on the go with the tools to slay lost time. Personal inefficiency at work leads to increased stress levels, lower morale, higher absenteeism, more turnover – and rising spending on employee health care and hiring. Why not improve productivity, decrease stress levels, and increase profits instead?The author of four books – two of which were Amazon best-sellers – Helene Segura has been the featured organization expert in more than 200 media interviews. She has coached hundreds of clients to productivity success and performance improvement by applying neuroscience and behavioral modification techniques to wipe out destructive, time-wasting habits.Helene turns time management on its head by sharing both client case studies and pop culture examples to teach her mind-bending framework for decreasing interruptions, distractions and procrastination so that companies can spend more time generating revenue.

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