If I just spend another week in the editing room, I can get the colour levels just right.
If I just do another month worth of focus group testing, maybe I will get that killer insight.
If I just have another branding workshop, I will finally be happy with our company logo and then we can start working on the product.
When it comes to working on anything creative or innovative, it can be tempting to just spend that little bit more time and effort taking what you have and polishing it until you feel like it is perfect.
While this might be healthy when you need to take a rough draft and iterate it into something that is ready, there often comes a point when the additional effort is no longer worth it.
When it comes to producing anything new, there is an important saying:
Done is better than perfect
There is no such thing as perfect. It cannot be reached, and yet people use it as an excuse to not consider their work complete.
Because once you say that something is complete, it means that it is ready for other people to see it, and judge it.
And it is human nature to hate the uncertainty that comes from not knowing what the judgement might be, and the fear of being judged negatively if people do not like it. So people claim to want to continue working on their idea to make it better, when in reality they just don’t feel ready to share it.
Once anything new has reached a certain level of completeness, additional effort is likely to only bring the smallest actual improvement. And in some cases, continuing to work on something after it is complete can actually make you go backwards, towards a result which is worse than if you stopped when the work was good enough.
Or it may be an issue with not having a strict deadline. Other research has shown that people will find additional work to fill the time available, even if this additional work brings little to no additional value.
So set regular deadlines earlier to publish what you are working on to the world.
Remember: Ideas are nothing without execution. And execution is only finished once the work is shared, when it is deemed not perfect but “good enough” and this version is done.
If it isn’t done, it is none.
In almost all cases, even after a piece is “done”, you can continue to work on the next version. Products and live performances can be updated again and again over time. So you don’t need to wait for perfection, you can instead be on a constant public journey towards improvement.
Just get it done.
Latest posts by Nick Skillicorn (see all)
- Made to last - November 21, 2023
- We could all benefit from more failures - November 15, 2023
- Self-Serving bias: Why you think nothing is your fault - August 9, 2023
- We are all sheep - August 2, 2023