Woman sitting at desk writing and drinking coffee

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By Stephanie Swensrude

I’m a perfectionist.

My work is my BABY. I put love and time and sweat into every paragraph. How could I ever submit my work?! There are people out there! And they are going to judge my baby!
There are a lot of methods I have used to fight my battle with perfectionism.

1. Don’t listen to fake rules.

I have this idea that if I am not working with my latte in a cafe while listening to classical music, all the work I produce is going to be garbage. But sometimes, my best work is typed into my phone while riding the train or scrawled on the back of a coaster at a bar.
Accept that creativity can strike at any time and that any idea can have value.

2. Take breaks.

If you can feel yourself hitting a brick wall, take a break. If you try to force things, you’ll just get frustrated.
Come back after a walk and a snack with fresh eyes.
However…

3. Don’t go back to something that is done.

I pride myself on submitting assignments early. But if I had a dollar for every time I’ve gone back in and edited a totally fine submission until it was just a little more perfect, I would have lots of dollars.
Once it’s done, try to let it go.

4. Done is better than perfect.

Sometimes I notice myself stressing and rewriting and pulling my hair out and wondering, Why can’t this just be done?!

Then I remember that it IS done. I’m just causing unnecessary panic by refusing to let it go.
I’m sure your instructor would rather have a finished, on-time paper than a late but “perfect” paper.

5. Start early and leave lots of time.

I know myself. I know that I need to fine-tune my work a couple of times before I hand it in. I schedule that time to avoid last-minute stress.

6. Have gratitude for your perfectionism.

Not many people hold themselves to high standards. Lots of people accept mediocrity. Be thankful that you have the drive and pride to produce high-quality work.

7. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

In almost direct contradiction to my last point, learn to laugh at yourself a little. News flash: not everything you create is going to win a prize!
Sometimes, mediocrity is just fine.

8. When all else fails, lie to yourself.

If you just can’t let your baby take it’s first steps into the world, lie to yourself. Tell yourself you’re submitting a draft, and repeat it until you can convince yourself to submit it.

Maybe don’t do that while rocking back and forth in the corner of the library though…

DON’T MISS OUT!
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