Procrastinating Perfectionists

Attempts to be an ideal students prove to be detrimental

Story by Cate Rounds, staff writer

School just let out, and there’s so much you have to do. You have to write your essay for English, take notes for history and study for your big test in math. Instead of doing your homework, you decide to spend your time watching Netflix and scrolling through Instagram. It’s down to the last minute, and all you can think of are the possible ways you could make everything perfect. It’s time to break the loop of procrastinating perfectionists.

Striving for perfection is often referred to as the “highest form of self-abuse.” Perfectionists are their own harshest critics. Every single detail has to be perfect. They get upset when the smallest things go wrong. What many people don’t know about procrastination is that it is a symptom of perfectionism. Because perfectionists fear they will be unable to complete a task perfectly, they put it off as long as possible. Most people think procrastination is a form of laziness — that’s not the case. In many instances, procrastination is based off of a low tolerance for frustration and failure.

Simply, there are three causes of procrastination: a person not knowing what to do, how to do it, or not enjoying doing it. These causes can be further broken down into complicated task anxiety, fear of imperfection, lack of self-confidence, lack of focus, and priority confusion to name a few.

Both perfectionism and procrastination have effects on creativity. Perfectionists become victims of risk-averse thinking, which means it’s hard for them to think innovatively and creatively. Creativity is one of the greatest qualities humans possess. It allows us to think outside the box and see the world through a new lense. We extinguish our artistic spark by stressing out over perfection.

Procrastination and perfection also lead to extreme tolls on mental and physical health. The already anxiety-prone perfectionist will experience self-doubt and mental exhaustion. Likewise, the constant stress from procrastination eventually leads to a weakened immune system, digestive problems and insomnia.

There are many ways people can break this loop and manage their time wisely. One of which is shifting your perceptions. Break your black and white thoughts of expectations by understanding unrealistic expectations, know the value of your work, and remember that no one else cares or matters. Also, remember that conditions don’t need to be “perfect” to start working. Eliminating distractions by turning off electronics and clearing your mind help work get done quickly as well.

There is a difference between “excellence” and “perfection.” As students, we all put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect, and we get scared of things that seem hard. With college on the horizon, it is important for us to break this loop so that we are prepared for whatever the universe throws our way.