One perfect evening, a friend and I were discussing writing and how many books we’d like to write. My number hovered around 20 books. His number was at 35.
“Out of Body Ecstasy” is the last book I released back in 2012. The last book he released was three weeks ago. He started writing books 2 years ago and is on book number 8. I started in 2003 and am on book 6.
I asked him how he’s doing it – how has he written 8 books in 2 years?
“Done is better than perfect.”
I thought about that line for the rest of the night.
Crap — he was right.
However, what does it really mean though, and how does it affect YOUR life?
In most societies, the relentless pursuit of perfection is a normal part of everyday life. Whether you have a job or you’re in a business where you work for yourself, this pursuit can stop you dead in your tracks. This is because if you constantly insist on perfection, it’s rare that anything will actually get done!
Daily productivity is important no matter who you are, or what you do. A stay at home mother needs to be just as productive as the CEO of a billion-dollar corporation, just at different tasks. Yet, insisting on perfection in every task renders each person inefficient, and ineffective at accomplishing those necessary tasks.
How Do You Use Perfection?
“Done is better than perfect” also speaks to those who tend to procrastinate in getting things done. Often, perfection is used as a kind of distraction or avoidance technique. If the task is never completed because it’s never perfect, then there is no risk of rejection for the task not being done well enough. So, imperfection stops any forward momentum – a killer of both personal and business productivity.
When you’ve gotten to a point within a task or a job that is “good enough”, it very often is just that – good enough! Whether the task is folding laundry, writing a new chapter of your book, or writing a grant proposal, there comes a point of diminishing return on your effort. At this point, take a look deep within and ask yourself if you are simply procrastinating finishing the task.
Much more can be accomplished in any given day if slight imperfections are allowed to remain. Letting go of perfectionism is difficult, but not impossible, and when you see how much more productive you can be, you’ll be amazed. The key is in realizing when done is good enough, and letting go of the control.
It’s not about not striving to do a great job – doing your best in any situation, even in the smallest of tasks, is imperative – it’s about realizing when the job is complete and you can move on to the next task, as opposed to using perfection as an excuse to not move forward, and losing all momentum. And then complain that you’re not moving forward!