What Is The 80/20 Rule For Perfectionism? - Here's How It Can Help

Last updated by Katie M.

Perfectionism is a paradoxical trait, and it's for that precise reason that it has ruined my life for such a long time. On paper, it may seem like a positive quality to have and implies meticulousness, however, in reality, it is closely linked to anxiety and can cause huge problems in our professional and personal lives. In my personal experience, my need for everything to be faultless meant I'd spend hours and hours working on projects and worrying that nothing was ever good enough. The truth is, by putting in so much extra effort, I was wasting my time and making myself ill, whilst neglecting other important tasks. I eventually realized that something needed to give, and that's where the 80/20 rule for perfectionism came in and saved the day!


The 80/20 rule is a coping skill for perfectionism

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle, is a simple technique used to overcome tireless meticulous impulses in every walk of life. It consists of believing that 80% of your results do in fact come from 20% of the efforts you put in. In other words, if, for example, you are aiming to work on something for an hour (60 minutes), in the first 12 minutes (20% of the time), you'll have already completed 8/10's of the task. The most important principle to retain from the 80/20 rule is that the more time and effort you put into something, the less effective you'll become, and the more you'll begin to doubt yourself and the quality of your efforts. (Thanks anxiety 😔...)

How the 80/20 rule helped me

I've been ridden with anxiety for as long as I can remember, and my anxiety coupled with my need for perfectionism made even the simplest tasks impossible for me. Even the easiest of tasks would take me three times longer than anyone else, which wasn't exactly something my demanding boss was happy to accept. Now, I can't deny that I was secretly aware that I had control issues, yet it was only when my boss assigned me a new important client dossier that I realized I needed to find coping mechanisms. Whenever I'd have to send emails to my VIP client, I'd spend hours trying to find the best way to turn things and would write hundreds of drafts on my phone at night, ready to send in the morning. 

Perfectionism was drowning me and making me completely ineffective when, in reality, I had plenty of ideas to share, yet I couldn't get any of them across because they were never ready. Whilst opening up to a friend about the vicious circle I'd been dragged into, she told me about the 80/20 rule, which eventually went on to relieve me of my worries and stress. Now, it didn't work straight away for me, but by keeping the principle in mind, it eventually changed the way I viewed things and modified my approach to what seemed like daunting and endless projects.

5 Reasons why perfectionism is the enemy of progress

Perfectionism may seem harmless, but it does in fact toy with our mental health and multiplies the doubts that we face. Here's why it's more of a hindrance than an asset.

  • 1) It increases procrastination in our tasks - A simple task is never simple for sufferers.
  • 2) It paves the way for disappointment - Perfectionists expect to be great at everything right away, which is of course unrealistic.
  • 3) It increases stress and anxiety - The disorders are intrinsically linked and constantly fuel each other.
  • 4) It means you are never satisfied - Perfectionists always believe that they could have somehow done better, or that their results are never good enough.
  • 5) Sufferers are critical of others - Nothing is ever good enough for them because their standards are so high...

Editor's opinion - Give the 80/20 rule a go!

This technique may seem a little surprising, but, the only surprising thing about it is how effective it is. In my case, it really helped me at work, and succeeded in changing the way I approach tasks. Plus, applying it has also given me an extra coping method to use against my anxiety. So, if you are a self-confessed perfectionist, what are you waiting for? Learn to prioritize your time and efforts, as I did!

🤗 Understand yourself, accept yourself, be happy... Let’s do it here and now!


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Article presented by Katie M.

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