I first heard this phrase a few months ago in relation to Facebook and their approach to development. It’s stayed with me ever since and I think the reason for that is that the phrase really struck a chord with me and is definitely something that I can learn from.
When you think about it, nothing really exists or means anything until it is completed. When I relate this to myself it makes me uncomfortable.
I have this unhealthy desire for perfection in what I do. In this pursuit there are four outcomes when I approach a piece of work or a task as follows:
1. Non-starter– I’ll agonize over how I will ever get any where near perfection and therefore never start.
2. The long tail – I’ll spend far too much time in the final stages of something, in striving for perfection, to the point where either the moment or the deadline has passed or there are diminishing returns.
3. What if– I’ll complete something that is less than perfect and then angst over how it could have been improved with more time.
4. Perfection – very occasionally I’ll bask in the glory of believing that what I have done is pretty much perfect!
No. 3 is manageable but all the others are not great.
With all this in mind, the ‘done is better than perfect’ mantra helps me and I am trying to put it into practice. Obviously there is a quality standard that we want to be striving for in almost everything we do but it is not realistic or healthy for that to be perfect.
Generally the pursuit of perfection holds us back and makes us less productive. I think that the main priority has to be completing something with the time and resources that we have available. If you then think it’s not good enough, with the benefit of time and the feedback you receive, you can either go back and improve it or decide that it’s not for you and move onto to something else.
In the spirit of this post I have been writing for precisely 26 minutes and am now going to consider this completed!