Home » Random » Completionists Can Be Really Annoying

Completionists Can Be Really Annoying


  • When e-text edition becomes available what do I do with the 3 print copies? They will instantly become obsolete. 7 years ago
  • Physical Therapy department wants 3 copies of new ed of e-text. They're not available! Need to buy 3 print copies now. Come on publisher! 7 years ago
  • Rush order from Physical Therapy for the latest edition of an electronic book. We just bought access to 2 more copies of the older edition! 7 years ago
  • About to do a library instruction for a physical therapy clinical instructor in FL. Nothing fancier than a phone call. Simple is good, still 7 years ago
  • If is fair to dilute the content of intellectual property with metacognitive sorts of stuff? I think so. It develops students wholistically. 7 years ago

As a perfectionist, I annoy the completionists around me who just want to get the task done. Over the years, I’ve learned to give up some of my tendencies. I know I’m far from, uh, perfect.

This morning I approached my office to find the work table outside the front of it missing. That might not be problematic, per se, but in this case my mind went to the 3 small jigsaw puzzles on it that students had completed over the previous days.

I’d seen a puzzle table in the foyer of another academic institution which I thought was a great idea for relieving stress, so I set up a table outside my office for students to work on. When the puzzles get completed, I disassemble them to reuse another year.

The puzzles were 300, 300, and 100 pieces each and had been sitting there, completed, decorating the table awaiting the start of another one. The box was sitting on one of the chairs and the table was nowhere in sight. I discovered later that someone had used it for an event setup. Reasonable.

What killed this perfectionist is that the someone who took the table just swept the pieces of the 3 puzzles together into one box.

Did you get that? The pieces for 3 different puzzles were now all mixed together. In one box.

A perfectionist would have figured out a way to separate the pieces when putting them away. They came as part of a set of individually wrapped puzzles in that one box. (A different kind of perfectionist had thrown away the original bags. A true completionist would have just left the bags in the box.) But surely the person completing the setup could have taken a few seconds longer to heap the pieces of 2 of the puzzles on the remaining 2 chairs and the 3rd in the box, right?

Completionism is when a person’s goal is simply to get a task done. It doesn’t really matter how. (Why thrown away the bags rather than just leave them? Get on to the puzzle making.) Perfectionism is when a person’s goal is to get the task done a very specific way.

But completionism and perfectionism are a false duality. There are degrees and the dualism is actually a gradient. One completionist needing the table could actually have found another one somewhere else. (There was an identical one in the next room.) Another could have swept the pieces on the floor.

The completionist who took the table didn’t even bother moving the chairs out of the walkway. But s/he had just enough perfectionism to make sure the pieces didn’t get lost.

The positivist in me is glad they were small puzzles.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s