Use Time Constraints to Tackle Perfectionism (and Avoidance)

It seems like there’s never enough time. Between what we feel we have to do and what we think we should do (to say nothing of what we’d rather be doing) every obligation begins to feel like an enormous time-suck, with everything taking way more time than it should – or maybe, more precisely, everything taking longer than we have. In short, unpleasant.

If you really want to minimize the unpleasantness, you first need to figure out if you have a tendency to treat your time in an open-ended fashion. Why? Because chances are that the more open-ended you are about allocating time for tasks, the more likely you are to fall behind overall.

Perfectionism compounds the unpleasantness. Let’s say that tonight we decide that it’s high time to complete a task and, of course, we plan to spend as much time as it takes to complete the task to absolute perfection, because what’s the point of doing something if it’s not going to be absolutely perfect in the end? Of course, the task winds up taking considerably more time than expected. We also planned to do other tasks tonight as well, so the open-ended perfection of the first task has created a domino effect. We’re falling behind.

Daunted by our continual open-ended, unmitigated perfectionism, we then look for comfort in the arms of outright avoidance. In other words, if we can’t do it to perfection, we won’t do anything at all.

Sound familiar?

If so, try constraining your time. Give yourself a finite amount of time for a particular task. Tell yourself, “I only have an hour to make this as good as I can,” and then get to it. Stop when the hour is up.

The dirty secret about perfection is that not everything needs to be perfect, and often times something just needs to be good enough.

But what if something needs to be perfect?

Then perfect away. But be honest about whether any one task needs the full perfection treatment. And doing something is always better than total avoidance.



Staff Blogger: Pete Kimchuk, Senior Learning Instructor


Tech Tuesday: Google Calendar

Ah, yes…school is starting, clubs are up and running, you’re making friends so party invites are blasting in, oh…but don’t forget, that group project is due, papers are piling up, and how did the time fly by, it’s midterms next week?! To stay on top of your schedule, it’s best to have some form of organizing your time and commitments. One way to do that is by using the free, online Google Calendar app. Since it is cloud based technology, you’re able to access and edit your calendar from any device with internet. If you already have Apple’s iCal, it can easily sync. Here are some other ways in which Google Calendar can help you be a master of time management:

1) When inputting an event, type in “#todo” and it automatically will create a To-Do list for you. When you’ve completed your task, mark the item with a big “X” in the brackets.

2) Color code your schedules to use in the all-in-one master calendar. For example: blue events could be for school, purple for personal events, red for work etc. Google Calendar also includes national holidays.

3) Share your calendar with others. Why you ask? Check out this extremely realistic scenario: you’re trying to get a project done with a group of people in your class, do you just get everyone’s email/number and text back and forth until a possible date comes up for when you’re all available? Boring! Let Google Calendar do all the heavy lifting for you so you can get more time sleeping. With Google Calendar you can share your calendar online, and then use the “Find a Time” or “Suggested Time” feature within the app and voila! Possible group meeting times will magically appear before you! Also, you can input the location on the event so everyone knows where to go.

4) This app is synced with your Gmail already so you don’t need to sign up for anything new. If you don’t always want to use this on your laptop, you also download the app onto your phone and it’ll automatically sync.

5) Email events to guests. So you’ve already set up a time and place but don’t want the other folks to forget. With Google Calendar, you can send your guests an online invite to the event (ex: study time, group work, dinner) and when they accept, it automatically gets put into their calendar as well. Seriously, everybody wins.

6) Set up when and how you get reminded for big projects, due dates, or events. If you’re the type of person that needs an official reminder, you can customize your reminders to be emailed to you. On the other hand, if you just need gentle reminders, set it up for “pop-up” notifications.

7) Lastly, the graphics are cute (for a calendar)! For instance, when putting in an event for “movies with the homies,” the background in that time slot area will have a giant bag of popcorn. Not only is that adorable, but a quick visual reminder saves time when you’re glancing at your calendar.

Staff Writer: Victoria Rodriguez


Why Learn?

“In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”
~ Eric Hoffer

I have an admission: I’m a quote collector. I pick them up everywhere – from reading, of course, but I get them from song lyrics and movies, too. Something catches my eye or my ear and then it’s a short trip into a notebook. As a result there’s no real order or context to these entries, which leads to some interesting juxtapositions. Another quote I came across while looking for the one above is Agent Smith’s long speech in THE MATRIX, you know the one, about how humans aren’t actually mammals but a virus, the one that ends with Smith telling an almost-broken Morpheus, “human beings are a disease…and we are the cure.” Great stuff, that. But not for today’s Blog.

Hoffer’s an interesting writer when it comes to talking about learning. An autodidact, his official biography says that as a child he went blind for several years, only to have his sight return and with it a profound hunger for reading. Temperamentally unwilling to work indoors, he left the Brooklyn tenements and went west, spending the Great Depression as a migrant farm worker. Hoffer kept reading. He hopped freight trains in California looking for work, and when a job landed him in a new town, he promptly took out a library card, which was what they called Google back in the day. He wrote during down time. Eventually he wound up working the San Francisco docks. He started publishing in the early ‘50s, which in time lead to a gig as a “research professor” at UC Berkley, and becoming known ever after as “the longshoreman philosopher”. It all sounds wonderfully romantic until you’ve actually done the kind of back breaking manual labor Hoffer did.

The quote is akin to the idea that the purpose of an education isn’t learning what to think, but how to think, and that learning isn’t an end, but a means.

Anyway, I always liked this epigram, in spite of the semicolon.

Staff Blogger: Pete Kimchuk