Q45: Perfectionism and Procrastination

“When is it OK to be both a perfectionist and a procrastinator?”



Only joking!

I hope my client takes this in good heart, as it is intended. Earlier this year she consulted me about opening a new business bank a/c. I gave her my advice as a woman who has been using business bank accounts for forty years. They are all the same. There is nothing to choose between them. They are not really interested in us despite what they say in their adverts. The banks are staffed by underpaid overworked clerks and I, for one, do not need an actual branch of a bank to go into and queue to make any form of transaction. I haven’t banked a cheque since God was a lad, and if you are reading this in the UK, you should stop taking cheques immediately. Banks are anyway phasing them out, haven’t you noticed?

My client wanted a bank which had online facilities with an App she liked. She decided upon HSBC where, as it happens, I do both my personal and business banking, and I too have the App though I mostly don’t use it preferring to do my banking on my laptop for the bigger screen and the more grown-up interface. I can’t bear it when they dumb it down which they mostly do on apps (gross generalisation, please forgive). But my client wanted the app because she is a woman who owns and uses a smartphone. She’s out and about much more than I am and a busy woman likes to be able to do everything on the go, otherwise she would simply never get it all done. Busyness alert.

We discussed this across three (short) calls. But still… three, spread across perhaps ten days, maybe more. This is something I would have sorted myself on the afternoon it occurred to me I wanted to open a new bank account but, as I said, my client is a very busy woman, a businesswoman, a wife and mother. But, more relevant is the fact that she is both a professional and a perfectionist. Details are important to her, she wants to Get It Right. And no harm in that, provided you recognise the cost of the obsessing and you know when to Stop It Immediately and crack on.

And so, this led inevitably to my asking what on EARTH were the ongoing delays in this?

In the end, it came down to the fact that she was now reading the Ts and Cs before she signed the opening paperwork.


WHO DOES THAT? What’s the point anyway, because HSBC is not going to change their Ts and Cs for my client. Dream on! If she wants to open an account there, she has to sign it. End of.

We had a laugh, of course we did. Especially when I told her the story about the article I read recently about an organisation who set out to prove that no-one reads the Ts and Cs. They inserted a couple of funny clauses into theirs, one about giving up your first-born child to them, and the second one about doing thousands of hours of community service and everyone, to a man, signed the Ts and Cs without reading them. Except, I think, one person. And they gave that person a prize.

Save your energy for what’s important. If you are a details person, all well and good. But choose to spend only the right amount of time on research, the appropriate amount of time for the task in hand, and no more. We are only opening a bank account here, not doing rocket science, addressing the G20 or doing something worthy of the Nobel Prize. Yet.

Here’s another example of slowing yourself down and taking far too long to make up your mind because you are fearful of getting it wrong. It must be said that I have often not paid enough detail to some things like this, especially contracts. But my client and I would both be well served in moving toward each other’s operating systems. Mine is fast and furious and hers is slow to stop. Mix ‘em together and divide by two and you have your sweet spot.


  • Is there something you are putting off because you are anxious you cannot do it perfectly?
  • Do it today.
  • How did it go?

Your Biz Your Way

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