Little_Mavis' rants and musings

Procrastination and Perfectionism


I set up this blog ages ago, but then ignored it. I regularly find things I want to share my opinion on (being a very opinionated sort of person) but have not had the oomph to do so. I wondered what I should write about. Should I make it about politics ( something I am an expert on ( or try to be funny ( ? I the end I realised that I should just be me and start, I will find out what direction it takes as I go along. I’m sure you will all tell me if it’s boring.

A Twitter friend (Snowgirl) announced she had just registered a blog and it pricked my conscience. I have no excuse for not using this. I fear my main reason for not doing so is my innate perfectionism. I think this may have caused problems throughout my life. I don’t really want to post this until it is “just right” and that may take ages. I don’t mind constructive criticism but I am easily upset by criticism for something I feel is one of my strengths.

I like to think I write reasonably well, I take time to select the correct words to say exactly what I want to say, so if I post this, no, make that when I post this, I will post it warts and all without taking hours to check through and make sure there isn’t a misplaced apostrophe or a mixture of “&” and “and”. Yes, I know there are those of you who will pounce on such shortcomings but I’m doing this partly as therapy so I don’t care. 

So, how has perfectionism hindered me? Well, one of the main problems I had with my teaching job was simply finding the time to do everything I needed to do. I will try to post on this later (without too much whining) to explain why this is a real problem but for now, do me a favour and take it as read.

I found making handouts for students was taking me ages.

  • I made sure it was in a font that was easy to read for all students (even dyslexics – Tahoma is good)
  • I didn’t put too much text to read (these were students who had done poorly at school before they had come to college and were completing courses that were the equivalent of the more successful children do in year 9)
  • I included suitable images to make the handout seem friendlier
  • I included all important information on one page (they got bored if they had to read more)

That was for the students, I also needed  to do some things for me.

  • Consistent layout
  • Standardised names
  • Stored in sensible places

This all took time. Especially as I was creating new resources for stuff I hadn’t taught before and I was the only one teaching this so there was no-one to share the workload. I was told I wasted too much time on this, other teachers seemed happy with handouts that were old, but approximately right, had errors and frankly, to me, looked a bit of a mess. I’m beginning to realise that this was a necessary survival mechanism, but I can’t do that. I can’t start on tidying the shelves on the landing because the storage boxes are the wrong colour and don’t match.

Perfectionism can be an asset, and wanting things to be done right must be a good thing, but not if it stops you coping or even doing anything at all.

I’m going to have to learn (even at my advanced age) to learn to make do and accept things that are OK rather than right (well, sometimes anyway)

This is my first step. Once I have run this through the spellchecker it is going to be posted, warts and all. Please don’t point out errors; you may set me back weeks.


Author: littlemavis

Retired teacher. (also Information Scientist, Export Sales Assistant, Sales Administrator, Computer Programmer, Software Support Specialist) Worked in Sixth Form college and recently as support in a primary school.

8 thoughts on “Procrastination and Perfectionism

  1. A good beginning post, actually! Explains the point of the blog and invites us to take the trip with you.
    My sister suffers from extreme perfectionism, & it’s severely compromised her ability to get things done on time–or ever! When she DOES finish something, it’s beautiful & exemplary, but comes with so much angst she can’t appreciate it. She’s had to work very hard on a) learning when & how to compromise, b) fight the urge to procrastinate because she’s anticipating how painful the process will be, and c) understand that doing some things will simply take her longer than they take other people, because there’s only so far she can compromise, & she therefore needs to plan very carefully & take that linger process into account. It’s been very hard, & I wouldn’t say she’s totally licked it, but things are MUCH better now than they used to be.

    Good luck! Your self-awareness is probably the most important step, so well done. 🙂

  2. Someone recently told me…’OK is good enough’. I found that hard to accept too. When I make mistakes I am SO hard on myself. I wish you good luck with this. Oh, by the way, I didn’t spot a single mistake as it goes 🙂

  3. so understandable, especially in regards to writing.

  4. I had a former boss who forced me to downgrade and downgrade my editing standards until they were almost unrecognizable to me. It was honestly painful.

    Now I copyedit for a boss who once emailed me about an article I’d already been through to ask if I’d looked at it yet. He’d found I missed correcting an occurrence of “a phenomena” and assumed I hadn’t looked at the entire article yet. Very flattering. 🙂

    I’m in the same boat as you with blog posts. To try to get around myself (and have time to post in between everything else), I’m trying to limit myself to 500 words per post and minimal read-throughs before I post. We’ll see.

  5. Tahoma is good for dyslexics? GREAT! many thanks, I occasionally get asked to help kids with difficulties.

  6. Just tried Tahoma – beautiful font. Do you know of any decent studies comparing fonts, e.g., for ease of reading and perceived aesthetics? (I will use Google, but thought I’d ask first :-))

  7. What a great post. Thanks. Well written and well thought-through. I’ve been having to change some similar behaviours myself. I’d say keep going with changing the bits that are unhelpful to you, but don’t become un-you!

  8. Pingback: Feral Youth – To Know them is actually to quite like them « littlemavis

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