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Nobody's Perfect

Don't confuse being "perfect" with being organized. Reconcile your skills and your priorities.

This story appears in the November 1999 issue of

Do you take perfectionism too far? Do you work hard each day with minimal results? If so, you may be focusing on doing things right instead of doing the right things. There are four ways to determine whether your perfectionism is getting in the way of your productivity:

  • Are you spending a majority of your time on top priority items? Perfectionists often focus on tasks they're able to do perfectly, while ignoring those they don't do as well, even if those tasks are more important. You'll increase your productivity if you handle top priorities, no matter what your strengths are.
  • Are you willing to delegate, or do you always consider yourself the best person for the job? As your business increases, the demands on your time will increase proportionately. Instead of handling everything yourself, consider using freelancers or adding an employee. Someone with more experience in a certain area can help you balance your strengths and improve your business.
  • Are you being blinded by your perfectionism? You may be doing things well but also spending an inordinate amount of time working on them because they aren't perfect. There's nothing wrong with striving for perfection. However, it does become a problem when your quest for perfection affects the quality and quantity of the work you produce.
  • Are you constantly jumping from project to project, without accomplishing anything? Perfectionists often move from task to task because they feel they can handle everything that crosses their desks. A perfectionist's jumping act is fueled by countless interruptions from others. The way to take control over these "time stealers" is by focusing on one project at a time. If you can't complete it, get to a point where you can stop and easily resume work at a later time. Move on to the next project after that.

Lisa Kanarek ( is a home office organizing expert and author of several books, including Organizing Your Home Office For Success (Blakely Press) and 101 Home Office Success Secrets (Career Press).

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