Perfectionism is tricky. It seems like a virtue and a point of honor, but taken to extremes, it's a paralyzing trap. Perfectionists endlessly berate themselves, judging their work with one of two grades—Perfect or Complete Disaster. Here are a few strategies to help even the most perfect perfectionist find some middle ground.

Ask yourself who your inner critic is. Usually, it's someone from your past: a harsh parent, teacher, coach or sibling. Recognize that this voice is probably no longer relevant, and ignore it. Pay attention to people who understand the work you're doing and have a hand in evaluating it.

Practice doing one thing less than perfectly. Start with something that your rational mind knows doesn't need to be 100 percent—and allow yourself to do a so-so job. Your "good but not great" might be someone's idea of excellent.

Take a break. When you work on something for too long, you reach the point of diminishing returns. You spend hours getting almost nothing done, fixing things that weren't broken or second-guessing your first, best impulses. Notice when you're reaching that point, and force yourself to back away. You'll save yourself from futile effort and time spent redoing work done in the fog of poor judgment.

Get a second opinion. Hearing from one or two people you respect will give you the perspective you need.

Learn that a deadline is a beautiful thing. If one isn't handed to you, impose it on yourself. Focus on completion. Something done imperfectly but on time is often better than something done exquisitely but late.

Delegate details you obsess over. If you're struggling with a task that someone else can do faster, better or well enough, let it go. Know your limits. Sane and productive beats impeccable and self-flagellating any day.

Limit the number of revisions you grant yourself. Computers make it far too easy to keep changing your work. Track yourself for a week to see how many times you tweak documents. If it's normally seven, scale back to six, then five or four. Once you hit your targeted number, stop.

Recognize degrees of excellence. We all strive for a Perfect 10—when everything goes smoothly and you feel great about your work. But it's unrealistic to reach it with every project. As long as you hit at least a seven, you should feel good about your work.

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