Most designers are perfectionists . It is an advantage for designers to aim for perfection for this will make your work better. When you are a perfectionist, you always want to make every look the way you want it and they way you expect it. There may be some advantages of being a perfectionist but if you’re looking for too much perfection, it is a different story.

The adage that says “too much of something is bad” is indeed true. If we speak of perfectionism, you should see to it that you are being subtle and you are considering some things like your health condition. Negative perfectionists and neurotic perfectionists tend to be sad because they are never satisfied of anything. But other than that, there are other disadvantages of too much perfectionism which may have an impact to your health and to your work. Let us take a look at them:

1. Low productivity.

Low productivity
Image: miseryanarchy09

Perfectionists tend to give attention to every detail in the design. Sometimes, even the unimportant details are given attention. This results to low productivity because they spend so much time in a single project. Instead of finishing a lot of projects in one day, that is not possible anymore for you have spent a lot of time for a single project. It is okay to be very particular with details but do not over do it. You have to remember that there are also other projects that you have to make. You won’t be able to hit deadlines if you’ll be looking for too much perfection.

2. Frustration.

Image: aimeeern

Aiming for so much perfection often leads to frustration. It is said that expectation postponed makes the heart sick. So, if you won’t meet your expectations for your work, you will feel so down to the extent of hating yourself and losing that self-confidence. No one would like that to happen to them. Bear in mind the people are not perfect and that brings you to doing great things close to perfect but not totally perfect. Too much perfectionism can lead to low self-esteem and depression. This will affect not just your health but also your other projects as well. A single failure might bring down your entire design business just because you were not satisfied with your work.

3. Low self-esteem.

Low self-esteem
Image: missfortunex

Since a perfectionist tends to believe that everything can come out perfectly with his own hands, he will damage himself when failure comes. He may think negative things about himself and bring himself down. Perfectionists are like birds that fly so high when the weather is great but when a sudden outpour of rain comes, the bird will stop flying and look for trees to shield them from the rain. Perfectionists fly high when great projects are being done but when a failure comes, they fly down, get wet and find it hard to fly high again because he have lost self-esteem.

4. Stress.

Image: setyoursights

No one would like to be stressed out with work but there are people who are unaware that they are the ones who stress themselves. If you want everything to be perfect, you are pressuring and obliging yourself to do more even beyond what you can do. This can cause stress for you are working too hard and spending a lot of time for the project. You won’t even want to take a break because you want to finish everything – perfectly. With this, instead of committing fewer mistakes, you will be committing more mistakes. Yes, too much perfection can even lead to increased chance of failure and nervousness.

5. Fear to fail.

Fear to fail
Image: Graur razvan ionut

Once you aim for too much perfection, you also tend to fear failure. Being afraid of something is not good. Taking away a part of your courage makes you weaker and more vulnerable to mistakes. Fear of failure also limits your actions for you wouldn’t like to do some things due to that fear of committing a mistake. Aside from that, this will also mean that you miss that chance to improve yourself.

6. Self-blame.

Image: cheshiremax

Another negative effect of too much perfection is blaming yourself for failures. Some perfectionists believe that everything that happens is the outcome of their efforts whether it is success or failure. When he fails, he will not look into other aspects that could have resulted to this failure. Instead, he will blame himself for everything which results into low-self esteem and fear to work again.

7. Illness.

Image: John Kasawa

If you had been doing this for a long time-the self-blame, the fear of failure and all the above mentioned things, it will give undesirable consequences. Perfectionists suffer from physical ailments that are triggered by stress and anxiety. Heart problems, ulcers, headaches, and many other illnesses may be acquired as a result.

8. Burnout.

Image: artatm

Burnout refers to an experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest. Perfectionists experience this as a result of a high stress life. Even if you are merely working on a minor project, you will still be totally exhausted since you are forcing yourself to come up with the best output. You’ll feel exhausted and as time passes, you will feel that your passion is slowly diminishing. This is due to too much pressure you give yourself. Also, burnout is the result of little personal satisfaction. You will always be expecting a perfect output and even if your output is already good, you’ll still not be happy about it.

9. Depression.

Image: royho

Perfectionist could develop depression because they feel helpless whenever they fail or commit mistakes. The thought that they cannot do anything to make matters better could make them feel frustrated and depressed. This will also lead to belittling yourself and trying to cope with it in a wrong way.

10. More mistakes.

More mistakes
Image: Katherine Gruender “Kat”

As you eye for perfection, you are committing more mistakes. This is because when you are very particular about details, you cannot notice that instead of looking into the more important things, you are merely considering the unimportant ones. When the final output comes, you actually failed or forgot to check those details that your client wants to emphasize. So, you have to do it again.

11. Less breaks.

Less breaks
Image: Tim Ltd

Taking a break for a cup of coffee or a minute of fresh air would be good. You can actually stop working for a little while, play some games or listen to music or read a book or just anything to freshen and relax your mind. But this is quite impossible for perfectionists. They wouldn’t stop working because they are afraid of letting go of some ideas and losing control of the moment. They tend to believe that in order for things to be perfect, you need to have control of it. Well, you need to chill out a bit.

Being a perfectionist is not wrong at all if you use it in a proper and positive way. Extreme perfectionism will bring consequences that you wouldn’t like to experience. If you notice that your being a perfectionist makes you so entrenched with work and stresses you, then it is time for you to start changing. Use perfectionism in a good way for you will be happy to see the result of it.

Kareen Liez

About the author: A Civil Engineer who has a construction business and a youth volunteer for a civic organization. She also contributes for a local newspaper due to her unwavering passion to write.


  1. Whoa! Thanks so much for this. I think I need to tweak my perfectionism a lil bit. Cause I’m guilty of most these list.

  2. Very good article! I work with someone like this. She’s very skilled graphically, but projects take WAY longer than they need to. And she is focused on details, but definitely misses the big picture. I have gently made many suggestions, and she’s moved a tiny bit, but her OCD will not let go. Even explaining how much money this wastes doesn’t persuade her. I wonder if her migraines are related to this.

  3. Nice article, especially when we desperately go for perfection in any design project that kinds of things happen very often.

  4. I really love your article thanks for the great tips. Sometimes I experience the desire of getting things perfect so that everybody will like it, and then everything listed bellow starts to happen.

  5. You write very good informative information laced with a great deal of insight. Perfection, like most absolutes, is a two-edged sword. Thanks for a great morning read.

  6. Its such a nice post on perfectionism.
    I thought about it lots of time and now by reading this post, I can say i have find some great things.

  7. Cool article
    I realized that I’ve been through the most of them

  8. Great article – thanks a lot! Yet the headlines say it all; they could stand as memorandum in every designer’s notebook 😉

  9. IMHO there’s always room for a self-imposed level of acceptable perfection. In fact I think there should be more of a focus on perfection and less of a focus on client-based, mass-mediocre!

    One thing that you don’t mention is the effect this can have on relationships (real life ones).

    As your professional life is impacted by all of the above a supportive partner is invaluable … an un-supportive one can be the final nail in the coffin of the search for perfection!

    Also, having graduated from “conventional” (pre-digital) advertising times, yes, I’m that old: magic markers, airbrush illustration/retouching, lettering artists, PMT [not just once a month either], type on film, 10A scalpel blades, CS10 artboard … the list goes on) I can tell you that there are people out there that have more genuine artistic talent than most of the people working in advertising today that are currently unemployed (or in some cases have even committed suicide) simply because they couldn’t adapt to working a keyboard and mouse because “perfection wasn’t achievable” via that route!

    Sorry for the downer but maybe it’s not the search for perfection that is the problem but perhaps it’s the industry’s acceptance of “average” that’s at fault?

  10. Very nice and detailed article…. and things kinda matches to my condition since now a days I am working the same as mentioned above…. and really it is not good in every aspect she wrote here…. I am thinking about it and will try to change a few things required in me to save me from the above mentioned conditions…

    well thank you for share this nice info… 🙂

  11. already feeling the consequences of trying to be better at what I do. good article, to bad it will not change nothing, at list for me.

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