Get It Done: Why It's Better than Perfect
In anyone's professional journey, the time will come when they need to do the "big project." Numerous words can describe it: Career-defining, high-profile, a step into professional selfhood, and many more.
Excitement and passion shoot up your spine. But you avoid it for days, maybe even weeks, because you are waiting for the so-called "right time" when you can spend hours simply concentrating without interruption; when you have crossed everything off your to-do list, and your workspace is ideally in order.
Eventually, that ideal time never comes, and, before you know it, an infamous concept called "cramming" occurs, with too much to do in too little time.
The work is done, but the standard you set is not met. Or, the result is exceptional, but you miss the deadline, much to the ire of the recipients.
If this resembles you – that you try so hard to put your best into the task that matters the most yet wind up feeling like you always fall short – you are probably dealing with perfectionism.
Here are some ways to adopt the mindset of getting things done instead of getting them perfect:
Start Right Now, No Matter How Strange It Feels
You cannot do everything all at once. It is better, instead, to pace yourself. Planning something for "later" can easily result in procrastination if you have perfectionism because you won't start until you reach some ideal state of professional nirvana that never materializes.
If you fall into that trap, immediately start working on what you are avoiding. Or, if you think it is not possible, mark it in your calendar for the following week and find enough discipline to begin the project when that time comes.
The time might not be ideal: You might be a little distracted, have only one rather than two hours, or there might still be some stray, unrelated items on your desk that, despite being ignored for weeks, now look fascinating. But starting the job in an awkward state is still preferable to waiting.
At the absolute least, take some time to sit down and think through the actions you'll need to take to complete the project. It is preferable to do this activity away from your workstation using paper, a pen, or a highlighter. This can be done digitally as well. In either case, you should begin outlining the steps necessary to complete the task and build momentum.
Catch the Perfectionist Bug Before It Catches You
If you battle with perfectionist tendencies, you will need to have a plan on how to prevent yourself from spending too much time on various elements of the task once you have started a project.
This issue usually flares up when it comes to research. Perfectionists often over-research topics because they do not want to risk someone asking them a question about something they did not know. Because it is easier to read what other people have done than to put their thoughts and ideas out there, they frequently struggle to get past the research stage.
If you find yourself embodying this habit, decide in advance how much time – an hour, three hours, or five hours – is suitable to devote to a specific area of research. And stick to it. After putting in the necessary time, pause and switch to production mode.
Get the job done to a reasonable level in each area as you concentrate on the production, knowing that you may go back and make adjustments if you have more time before the deadline. Instead of focusing on getting one section of a job flawless and then having to speed through the rest, doing this produces an overall superior result.
Focus on the Work Instead of the Feedback
Perfectionists tend to overthink. Once they begin producing work, they could find themselves tense over something as hypothetical as how others will respond to what they present. This concept is called analysis paralysis, where so much time is invested in thinking than doing.
Integrating practical feedback on what you can improve can help avoid this perfectionism trap and block out thoughts of what people will or will not say in the future. Concerns as vague as whether people will think your project result is good or not do not help you get the work done.
When intrusive thoughts cloud your head and slow you down, remember that you cannot control how people will or will not respond to you. The only thing you can control is what you are doing now.
Keeping this thought in mind reduces stress in the process and helps you finish the work, leading to better results and feedback. And it is alright if you receive some honest criticism that will enable you to do even better the next time. Recognize that you always have a chance to develop and improve as time goes by; this is a good growth mindset. It is not necessary to complete everything correctly at once.
Hold Yourself to a Deadline
If you follow the advice above, you won't need to rush to finish your task at the last minute. You began early enough to at least finish the basics of the job, did not over-invest in a specific part and were not thinking of what other people might think.
As the deadline approaches, have a final look and ship it out. Consider the following additional suggestions:
Do not redo a particular part if it is already okay.
Do not decide to go in a different direction.
Do not keep refining the details so much that you miss the deadline.
Do let it go.
Of course, people expect top-notch work for you to provide. But many times, timely delivery of the work benefits them more.
Your supervisor, coworkers, and clients do not need to continuously worry that anything in your hands might not get done or will undoubtedly be late. Their faith in you will grow significantly if you start delivering on time consistently, and they will not have to spend any time or effort worrying about whether you will provide.
This can lead to a drastic improvement in your professional relationships with your colleagues and supervisors. Additionally, it will reduce your workload because you will spend less time replying to follow-up messages asking why the work is not finished.
While perfectionism is an admirable concept as it is an excellent way to excel at work, it is also counterproductive. Applying some strategies can help you get more done with less stress. No matter how big or small, striving for progress rather than perfection will help you accomplish much at the most outstanding level while still making an excellent impression on others.