As the popular saying goes, “done is better than perfect.”
I suppose we could debate this statement over and over, but I tend to agree. There are times when we just need to get it done, knock it out and move on down the list.
Granted, this concept doesn’t apply to all situations.
Doctors, firefighters, figure skaters, pilots and wedding photographers come to mind as permanently exempt. Nobody wants a surgeon to hold up his hands and say, “good enough, we’re done!” when the procedure wasn’t performed with 100% accuracy and precision.
There are certainly times in life when perfection is the ultimate goal, and nothing less will do. But I’ve found that more often than not, people are actually less productive when they strive for perfection. We tend to get hung up on small details, wasting precious time and resources on minor things don’t affect the overall outcome.
One example of a former coworker comes to mind. She once spent an entire morning fine-tuning the formatting for a simple power point presentation. Something about the border bothered her, and instead of spending that time researching the data and preparing her talking points she spent hours trying to get the border perfect.
This wasn’t a major presentation to an important client or upper-level management. It was an internal training tool for a one-time event. The point is, even if the border wasn’t perfect, in that instance it didn’t have to be. Her time would have been better spent on more productive tasks.
This concept pops up all the time in the work place.
People sit on things so long waiting for them to be perfect that nothing gets done. Or they spend way too much time on trivial things that don’t matter instead of revenue-producing activities that do. Things stall, opportunities are lost.
So while a business owner spends hours agonizing over which font to use on his business card, his competitor is out making sales and bringing in actual business. You know, stuff that matters.
Applies to Personal Life, Too
This concept does not just relate to the business world, it’s relevant in personal life as well.
Consider the mom who spends three hours painstakingly creating decorations for a toddler’s third birthday, making everything just perfect.
Is it possible she could have spent 30 minutes hanging streamers, blowing up balloons and call it done?
Then spent the extra 2.5 hours actually spending time and playing with that toddler? Which would the birthday girl prefer?
Now don’t get me wrong — I love Pinterest as much as the next girl and can spend hours on seemingly trivial things. In fact, it’s possible I’m writing this entire post as a reminder to myself. I may or may not be that mom. Or that “former coworker” mentioned above….
Know The Difference
Bottom line is that sometimes done really is better than perfect. Then again, there are times in life when perfection is key. The important part is knowing which is which.
Easier said than done.
But overall, I think the happiest, most successful people — both in business and personal life — have this distinction figured out. I’m working on it.
*most of the time