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How Striving for Perfection Could Make You Unproductive

How Striving for Perfection Could Make You Unproductive | Living in Your Sweet Spot

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As a functional Virgo, perfectionism has been something that I have always tried to live up too. But, one thing you learn about yourself when you try to achieve perfection is that you actually never get anything done.

There’s a saying you may have heard that affects people in all walks of life, and that saying is:

Done is better than perfect.

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!

I have a career in digital marketing. Many times, someone will insert their opinion about my team’s work. Maybe they don’t think the website is pretty or maybe they didn’t like that email. My answer is always very simple: I’m not getting paid to make “pretty things. I’m getting paid to get the work done.” Beauty in my opinion is relative. For the majority of the time in my field, I used metrics and analytics to drive decisions. I can get ten opinions about a project but only by actually doing something will I ever be able to make an assessment of whether or not it works. If it does, fantastic! If not, I’m gathering results and I’m off to the next test. But I always get the job 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 multi-million dollar corporation. They just have different tasks. Yet, insisting on perfection in every task renders each person inefficient, and ineffective at accomplishing those necessary tasks.

Done is better than perfect” also speaks to those who tend to procrastinate in getting things done. If I don’t have this mindset. I can’t get anything 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 strategy 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.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can be lazy and say it’s good enough. You are setting yourself up for failure. You must put in the work and do the best that you can to produce a quality result. 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.

Do you struggle with perfectionism? Do you agree with done is better than perfect? I want to hear from you!

Tags : becoming a valuable employeecan perfection decrease productivityhow perfection effects productivityhow perfectionism effects forward momentumhow to become more productivehow to establish good time managementhow to get the job done rightproducing good workstriving for perfection
Kesha Holloway

The author Kesha Holloway

Kesha Holloway is the founder of Living in Your Sweet Spot. She is passionate about being a wife and mother and desires to align herself with women equally passionate about their families. She believes the woman is the backbone of the family unit and it's her mission to help lift women to achieve their purpose.

27 Comments

  1. I’m closer to ‘done is better than perfect’ haha. I have long given up the idea of absolute perfection (don’t ask to see my bed making skills…not great). But when the task calls for it I do try to do my very best !!

    1. It’s amazing how my perspective changed when I became a parent. I always had to be perfect…to a fault. When my son was born, I realized quickly that I was going to drive myself and others crazy if I continued down that path.

  2. I run a marketing department as well and my approach to projects is to create a task sheet with all the little goals that need to be fulfilled in order for the project to be complete. Sometimes, some of the goals can’t be done, as you say, it can be that a nice design won’t get the right functionality, but an 80% completion rate is still good enough!

  3. I think NO-ONE can be 100% perfect. I think if a project is done as close to perfect as possible is great but honestly getting it done is the overall goal. Simple do the best you can.

  4. If you are productive with the time you become a perfectionist but we should never strive for it from first. Aristotle once said, “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.”

  5. I am glad that you added the phrase, “Now, this doesn’t mean you can be lazy and say it’s good enough.” It almost seemed like that was the point you were trying to make, and that is not a good thing. I think I am one of those people who never finish because it is not perfect. This usually happens with cleaning the house lol.

  6. I will keep this in mind. For the most part I agree that done is better than perfection but I also think perfection is what sets one thing apart from another (though nothing is ever perfect)! But you’re right, its not good if perfection is holding you back!

    1. Yup! Nothing and no human is ever perfect! We put too much pressure on ourselves to reach something that is unattainable. Do the best! Strive for the best! Your work will noticed.

  7. This is so true! I tend to get wrapped up in the details and lose sight of the big picture. I tell my kids to just do their best rather than try to be perfect, and I can use that reminder myself too.

  8. Oh my gosh. This is so me! I have this problem where everything has to be done in a certain order and it must be done perfectly. Which takes a lot of time. And then when something needs to be put on hold, I find myself unable to move onto the next task since the first task is not completed yet. Frustrating!!!

    1. My husband and I just had this conversation last night. We have to hold each other accountable on projects. We love shiny objects and have to make sure we complete one project before we jump to another.

  9. A great reminder on how not to run after perfection all the time. They say choose your battles and so should you do with problems and projects.

  10. I do like a done is better than perfect attitude to be honest. Perfection can really make my work day long and drawn out.

  11. Excellent points. I sometimes get caught up in perfectionism – lost in the details of making it perfect. I sometimes have to remind myself it’s better to get it out there.

  12. Now that’s a real, practical perspective . Of course, perfection in my opinion is simply lowering the odds of committing mistakes below 1% if that makes any sense. But if you aren’t doing anything wrong, it doesn’t really mean that you’re being stressed out. 🙂

  13. I totally agree that done is better than perfect! That perfect stops a lot of people from doing things because of the fear and that’s so stupid! This kind of reminds me of people need to be the best in the world in something, I always think that everyone should be the best version of themselves! You can’t change the world, but you can change yourself and that’s where everything starts!

    It’s the same with perfection, you should just start and not overthink it and not think about how perfect it needs to be, just do it! (I tell that to myself everyday) 😀

  14. So agree with you. You only become perfect when you do something repetitively. Try to do better every time, one day you will be the best without you knowing it.

  15. You can say that again! Great post. There is a saying ‘the best is an enemy of all good’ and it speaks of perfection desire making things worse. It is a reminder to us all

  16. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. Sometimes not getting things perfect makes me want to stop and just be lazy for the day. The part about “A stay at home mother needs to be just as productive as the CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation. They just have different tasks.” puts things into perspective. Even if we all go down different paths, that doesn’t mean we have less tasks or our tasks are not important. I love this.

  17. Perfectionism is another form of bondage. It keeps us in a never ending loop of The “not good enough “game. It is also mixed in with legalism, and what the enemy uses to keep us from giving ourselves grace, along with allowing God’s grace to cover us in all areas. A lot of times the deeper need for approval is at the root of perfectionism. Praise God for his grace!

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