If you’ve ever created something perfect, it probably took longer than expected. A product design, website layout, presentation, or research report, whatever it was when you were done, it was PERFECT!
Except, a few days or weeks go by. You stumble upon your masterpiece again. All of a sudden it’s not so perfect. If you had to do it over, you’d change a few sentences, move some slides around or design it differently.
So what happened? How did it go from being something perfect to pretty good or just ok?
Perfection is overrated. Creating something perfect comes at a cost and can be a waste of your valuable time.
The time expended to make incremental changes may not pay off in the end. Those tiny tweaks that can take hours of your time may just not be worth it.
It’s better to produce good work consistently, than one thing perfectly.
By the time you’ve created perfection, someone else has produced 2-3x as much and has progressed much further ahead.
Consequences of perfectionism
I used to find this recurring theme in my work.
I’d spend a lot of time trying to make something flawless, and when finally done, it was marginally better then what I had in the first place.
When I created my first blog, Millennials Quest For Success it took me 3 months before I launched in January 2018!!
Writing the perfect copy, creating the perfect layout, tweaking each element. And after it was all done it didn’t take long before my perfect website, wasn’t so perfect anymore.
But that is the thing about perfectionism. It’s different for everyone and will change over time.
To create something perfect requires testing, feedback, and implementation.
How else do you expect to create something great? If you’re only one person working in a silo, what makes sense to you may not make sense to others.
Rather than spend all your time trying to make something perfect, release what you’re doing to get feedback from others.
Even if you don’t implement their directions, you’ll receive a different perspective, which might open up other ideas in the future.
Perfectionism can also become overwhelming. Have you ever thought,
“There is so much to do and not enough time.”
Perfection takes substantial labor hours that could be spent elsewhere. By focusing less on perfection, you’ll find yourself with more time for other tasks.
What’s interesting is that you may suffer perfectionism in some areas of your life but not in others.
For example, when cooking dinner, I always try to make the food just right – almost perfect. However, when it comes to ironing my shirt, I might settle for good enough.
It’s no wonder I can’t cook a meal under sixty minutes, but can iron my shirt in just one.
Do you suffer from perfectionism?
Perfectionism is common. Who doesn’t want to be recognized for producing great work? Although when it comes to the detriment of your productivity or even mental state; it’s time to re-evaluate your perfectionist nature.
Here are 2 common causes of perfectionism:
1. Afraid to make a mistake
If you need to create perfect work, it may be caused by a fear of failing and the consequences on your self-image among your peers, colleagues, or managers.
If you feel like this one job, task or test will represent your ability or intelligence; you may have a fixed mindset outlook.
2. Fail to prioritize your time
If you do not value your time, it can result in hours spent trying to create something perfect, which was already good enough.
Like when I spent upwards of 3 hours trying to perfect a one-minute video clip!
By the end of it, I was ready to pull my hair out. I couldn’t believe how much time I had wasted on it.
Track your time to become self-aware of how you spend it and prioritize appropriately.
The perfect mix
It takes the right kind of mix to make a good cocktail: the correct amount of booze, mixer, and any extra’s that will make it not only visually appealing but taste good as well.
The same can be said about perfectionism and productivity. For example, if you’re very productive except the job you do is sub-par, you’ll submit poor work.
And if you spend too much time on something that doesn’t need to be perfect, your productivity diminishes leaving you feeling overwhelmed.
You need to incorporate the right balance of both to work optimally. Evaluate your tasks on the basis of importance, quality, and deadline (even if when it’s a self-imposed due date).
Habit Challenge: Avoiding perfectionism
Your work will fill the time you give yourself to do it.
Given 3 hours, you’ll normally take you that amount of time, even if you could have done it in less.
In this week’s Habit Challenge, take these 4 steps in avoiding perfectionism:
1. Importance: Set priorities by day, week, and month.
2. Quality: Write out the specific result you are looking to achieve.
3. Deadline: Determine how much time each task should take and set a due date.
4.Commitment: Complete the job within that deadline and ask yourself.
“Is this good enough?” – not perfect, but good enough.
• If the answer is yes, move one.
• If the answer is no, start over from step 2.
At first, nothing will be good enough until it is perfect. However, over time you’ll begin to realize the quality and importance required and allocate your time accordingly.
Where to go from here
How do you feel about perfectionism now? Have your feelings changed; do you think it may be overrated?
The idea of perfect sounds nice, although put into action can have negative consequences. From wasting valuable time, feeling overwhelmed, or suffering from the fear of making a mistake.
However, it can be overcome by creating the right mix of productivity and perfection. By prioritizing your time, setting objectives, deadlines, and reviewing your work.
Seek the feedback you need to create something perfect – without suffering the consequences of perfectionism.