“Perfection is the enemy of progress.” How to get out of your own way and get things done.
1. Focus on the task instead of just the outcome
- Think about your motivation for doing the task. What is the value of the task?
- Perfectionism is often tied to performance-based goals (“I need to get a 100%”). Try focusing on mastery goals (understanding what you are learning) instead.
2. Just get started
- Don’t wait until you “feel like it” – we don’t find motivation, we create it.
- Perfectionism can lead to procrastination by focusing on easy, but less important tasks. Create a must-do list for the day with 1-3 tasks and focus on those.
- Break up big tasks into small, feasible tasks and tackle one at a time.
- Time yourself – start with working on one part of the task for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, you may gain more motivation to continue working for longer intervals.
3. Reevaluate your reward system
- Use high-density fun activities (e.g., FaceTiming with friends) as rewards after hard work and avoid low-density mindless activities (e.g., scrolling social media) while working. This will be more motivating and will decrease multitasking.
4. Plan ahead and prepare for obstacles
- Plan time to work on the task and stick to the schedule. Overestimate how much time you will need to allow for unexpected situations and setbacks.
- Make a list of obstacles that might hinder the completion of the task. How will you deal with these obstacles? Thinking about this ahead of time will limit all-or-nothing attitudes, decrease uncertainty, and provide realistic options.
5. Make it fun
- Practice curiosity and find humor while studying. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, as it is a necessary part of the learning process.
- Use your favorite study methods to make the task more enjoyable (e.g., study online with a friend, use colors/pictures in your notes, turn a quiz into a game).