Why The Search for Perfection Is Hindering Your Productivity

You want to do a good job. You want your work to stand out. You want to impress people with your work. You’ve set high standards for yourself. All this is honorable. A commitment to producing quality work is good.

I’m an advocate of quality work. If you’re going to work, you might as well work to the best of your ability.

I’m not a big fan of doing work halfheartedly. Rushing through and botching the work doesn’t really benefit anyone. A strong commitment to excellence is essential to doing great work.

However, there’s a difference between seeking excellence and searching for perfection. Excellence means you seek to produce your best work. Perfection means you’re searching for a non-existent ideal. Big difference.

This is an important distinction. Some people, wanting for their work to be perfect, never complete the work. Like searching the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they search for something that isn’t there.

I spent a lot of time searching for perfection on many of my projects, and I have never found it. It seems that there’s always room for improvements. And in fact, there always is. Not many projects can reach a state that requires no more improvements. Even the best books, the most advanced technologies, the most engaging movies, or whatever else you produce, can be improved.

To be productive, you must finish what you start, even if, like tech companies, you need to work on version 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0.

Productivity is measured by the tasks and projects you finish more than by the ones you start. The search for perfection hinders your productivity because it gets you stuck in an infinite loop, which prevents you from ever “shipping the goods”. You to never finish your project; it’s never quite there.

You keep tweaking and tweaking and tweaking but you never ship; you’re too afraid that you’ve missed something and that, later, you’ll find out your work wasn’t perfect.

Keep pushing for excellence, but don’t get stuck in the perfection hamster wheel. And if you have perfectionist tendencies, get in the habit of shipping: set a deadline and abide by it. Before the deadline, tweak and tweak and tweak as much as you want. But when the deadline arrives, ship the goods.

People are waiting for what you produce, but the only way they’re going to enjoy your work is if you ship it.

About The Author

Vladimir Elie

I help people learn and apply success principles and strategies so that they can get the results they want in life.