I once spent a week digging around in data, finding insights, and doing research on possible fixes only to find out someone else had already flagged the issue and started working on a solution. At first, I was furious with the other person. How dare they do my work?
Then I realized I was part of the problem. My drive to prove ten different ways there was a problem and come up with another fifteen possible solutions before presenting my findings had gotten in the way.
I have to work hard not to let my perfectionism bring me down every day. I’m not sure I’ll ever manage to publish this article.
Time blocking + accountability to banish the perfectionism beast.
I set a limited amount of time for research. Set it to be the amount of time your most optimistic self thinks your research will take (1 hour to 1 day).
Add accountability by setting up a report back mechanism (a meeting, or a commitment to update someone on your work) at the end of that time.
This update should not be perfect. This is not a final presentation, this is a mid-point check-in. Come with some notes, armed with a chart or two if it’s about data, and your recommended next steps or questions. The format should work for you, it’s not what you would prepare for someone else. It’s just a taste of your work. There will always be more questions or one more piece of data someone asks for.
I am still worried when I go to meetings with a few scribbled notes, but I find that most folks are just happy to get an update, especially if I was investigating a potential issue. Time blocking has helped me combat my never-ending work quests. Give it a try on your next project and tell me how it goes.
Time blocking can do more for you than beat perfectionism.