Weekend Poll: Are you a perfectionist?

Do you like having all your ducks in a row?

It’s one thing to be organised, or well prepared before we embark on a project, a report or initiative. It’s another to require everything to be just so before you get moving on that undertaking, or pass on applying for a job in which you’d shine because you don’t have all the requisite qualifications.

If you’ve attended one of my presentations on perfectionism or resilience, you may have heard me refer to myself as a recovering perfectionist. I consciously rein in such tendencies. For example, when writing an article here or for other publications, I set a timer. I sometimes do the same when designing presentation slides as I play with fonts, images and so on. That’s because I care about the quality of my work, and want to deliver relevant, informative and engaging materials. I want my work to resonate with you. It could be tempting to edit and tweak here and there, yet there’s a limit to what’s practical.

Knowing when to stop

Christabell, a highly respected EA I know, mentioned her “good enough” approach to me years ago. We worked in the same sector, at different ends of the country, and Christabell was among my early Real Careers interviewees. The phrase, “good enough” need not imply subpar or even average quality. It does not imply an absence of proofreading, or inattention to accuracy. To me, good enough means you know when to stop polishing or reworking something.


Producing quality work is important, and we should all take pride in our deliverables. The quest for perfection, however, can actually hinder our productivity. I’ll write more about this when providing the results of this Weekend Poll. Let’s head straight to it! I’ve posed these questions before, and it’s always interesting to see how results compare over time.

What about you?

Please take a couple of minutes to complete the poll below. As always, I look forward to hearing what you have to say and will publish the results here.

YesNoOnly occasionally; it depends on the project or undertaking
I fix it and feel upset/disappointed in myselfI fix it and make a mental or physical "note to self" to learn from it and do better next timeI fix it and forget about it
I won't start a new habit unless I know I'll keep it up, no matter whatI wait and work my way up to the point where I feel confident I can succeed in maintaining a new habitI go all innone of the above
I don't hesitateI'll delegate depending on the degree of confidence I have in the other person's workI delegate if I have to, but then I have to spend time double checking the other person's workI prefer to do the work myself, even if it takes more time; I'll know the work is up to my standards
NoYes; I think I micromanageYes; I've heard this from one or more colleagues
YesNoI have perfectionist tendencies, and try to rein this in
I'm generally on top of my work and keep reasonable hoursI'm generally on top of my work and keep long hoursI sometimes struggle with staying on top of workload, and attribute this at least in part to being a perfectionistI sometimes struggle with staying on top of workload, and attribute this to the volume/nature of work rather than to being a perfectionistI typically struggle with workload

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