Why Done Is Better Than Perfect?

We all want to give our best, sometimes even going the extra mile.

But what if you had to choose between perfection or accomplishing things? Which would you choose?

Here are reasons why done is better than perfect.

Melitta Campbell

Melitta Campbell

Business Coach | Mentor

A big advantage to putting something out that isn’t perfect: you get to improve with feedback

I see this a lot amongst my clients – women who are starting a business for the first time. They want to put out something that is 100% perfect, but that only holds them back and leaves them feeling anxious.

It’s near impossible to ever do something perfectly, so it’s better to focus on getting something that is 80% right and then go for it.

There are several downsides to waiting:

  1. you can’t make money from products and services you haven’t launched
  2. the longer you wait, the more likely it is that someone else will launch a similar product ahead of you, and
  3. you deny your clients of your unique value.

There is also a big advantage to putting something out that isn’t perfect: you get to improve it with the feedback from your clients.

The reality is that you could invest lots of time, money and resources into creating something you feel is perfect, only to find out that it’s not quite what the client wanted.

However, if you put something out that is almost perfect, you can then made small tweaks and adjustments once you get feedback on what really works for your clients, and make your next ’new improved’ version exceptional!

It’s helpful to remember products like the iPhone, which have been very successfully launched even though the first versions were full of bugs and errors. As the saying goes ‘You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great!’.

Dr. Michael Provitera

Michael Provitera

 Consultant to Executives | Business Book Author | Management Professor

Getting something done is overwhelmingly satisfying

Five reasons why done is better than perfect:

  1. Getting something done is overwhelmingly satisfying while perfection may keep us tweaking something forever.
  2. Remember done is not over, you can still develop your craft, your idea, and your project.
  3. Be an optimist, getting something done will further your career, get you noticed, and perhaps open a door or two.
  4. Focus on the task at hand, break things down into smaller silos that lead to the bigger completed task or project.
  5. You are never done when you are done. Great people became even more famous after they completed something.

Perfection is a great trait and hopefully, by getting some things done, you reach perfection in some way.

Ben Brearley

Ben Brearley

Founder, Thoughtful Leader

There are two good reasons why “done is better than perfect”.

When you spend your time perfecting something, productivity plummets

Spending hours to polish your product or deliverable to a mirror-shine takes time and has an opportunity cost. That is – while you are going over and over trying to make things perfect, you are taking time away from being able to do something else that is more beneficial.

Coupled with this, is the second question of value.

Why does your product, service or deliverable have value? Is it because it contains no flaws? Or is it valuable because once it is in the hands of your customers, they can use it and enjoy it?

Remember that until your customer has your product, they receive no value.

The more you keep it to yourself in the pursuit of perfection, the less satisfied your customer will be and you will miss out on valuable feedback that could be provided.

You need to ask yourself why your product or deliverable has value. Most of the time, the answer will not be “because it’s perfect”. Usually, the product is valuable because it is useful, even with imperfections.

Nikola Roza

Nikola Roza

CEO and Owner, SEO for the Poor and Determined

Done is better than perfect the same way moving is better than standing still

Because there is no perfect. It’s an unattainable ideal and if you try to be perfect in something you do, then you will never do it and you will never move (with your business, your life, career, whatever).

What’s the solution then?

The solution is what I call two-pronged attack at perfectionism:

  • Accept that you will NEVER become perfect in whatever you do (this is a must).
  • Realize that perfection is a journey rather than a destination and that every day you become slightly better than you were the day before.

So incremental growth, and taking action daily, are answers that keep you on the road to perfection; AND keep you sane against the unbearable demands of perfectionism

And the best part is, that after you’ve adopted this way of thinking, and after enough time has passed, you will look back and see that:

  • The action you took got you real results – they may not be the absolute “perfect” results you dreamed of, but they sure are better than the ones you get from doing nothing and pondering how to achieve perfection.
  • The action you took developed your skills in a way that you’re now much close to your envisioned ideal of perfection.

Jan Yager, Ph.D.

Jan Yager, Ph.D.

Sociologist | Author

I want my proofreader and my brain surgeon to be perfectionists. Ditto for air traffic controllers. By and large, most other professionals and workers can fall into the excellence category; it doesn’t have to be “perfect.”

In researching and writing my new book, How to Finish Everything You Start, I identified no fewer than 22 reasons that people stop themselves from finishing. I was motivated to write the book because I have seen leaving projects or tasks unfinished or incomplete has reached epidemic levels.

Some of the key reasons are the obvious ones, like procrastination or fear of failure, but there are other causes that are not as obvious, such as doing too much at once and what I call distractionitis (because of texting, smartphones, the Internet).

Fortunately, you can get over your failure to finish tendency.

  • The first step is to recognize that you are falling into this syndrome.
  • Second, you need to identify your particular causes.
  • Third, you need to apply suggested cures to those causes.

Learning to get things done is a very powerful tool. I have seen such an improvement in my own productivity since adopting my own F-I=N=I=S=H acronym to getting more done.

Jeanne Yocum

Jeanne Yocum

Blogger, Succeeding in Small Business

When you can’t let go of something until it’s perfect: you procrastinate

When you can’t let go of something until it’s perfect, you procrastinate, perhaps face cost overruns, and may not satisfy the client because you’re so late with your delivery. What good is something to a client if it is perfect but gets there too late to be of help or actually causes problems with the firm’s own operations?

In general, clients don’t like vendors—no matter how great their work is—who cause them heart palpitations by constantly pushing up against, or even past, deadlines.

There’s also another problem with perfectionism.

If you fuss over every single detail you will make things more complicated than they need to be

If you’re fussing over every single detail of a project, you will tend to make things more complicated than they need to be. Perfectionists overthink, overanalyze, and, in general, overdo everything.

When you’re so wrapped up in the minutiae of a project, it’s very likely that you’ll lose sight of the big picture.

If you have staff members, your perfectionism will drive them nuts as you try to micromanage every aspect of their work. It can be especially damaging if you have senior people with considerable experience who don’t really need or want you looking over their shoulder constantly.

This control-freak attitude was high on the lists of reasons I left my last nine-to-five job and spent the rest of my career in self-employment.

A downside of perfectionism is that you may end up working hours for which you will not be paid

If you have given a client a fixed budget for a project but continue to work beyond the hours that budget calls for, you will, in essence, be working for free during those extra hours.

For this reason, make sure you’re tracking your hours carefully. If you see that you’re in danger of putting in time for which you will not be paid, this signals that either you didn’t set the budget correctly or, more likely, your perfectionism is getting in your way.

This is not to say that sometimes running a little over budget is not justifiable; that happens to all of us from time to time. But if you do this constantly, take a good look in the mirror and see if you’re not looking at someone who needs to dial back on his/her perfectionist streak.

Even if you don’t have a budget cap and can bill every hour you work, this may end up with a final total cost that is not pleasing to the client. Next time they have a similar project, they may look for a more affordable solution. In other words, your perfectionism may price you out of the market.

Your ability to grow your business can be seriously stymied if you are a perfectionist

You may spend so much time completing each and every task that you have no time to devote to innovating new product offerings, to attracting new clients for your services, or other activities that will support business growth.

Obviously, I am not arguing in favor of being slipshod. We all take pride in our work and want to do a good job for those who buy our products or services.

But there does come a point in every project where the law of diminishing returns kicks in and you need to recognize when the amount of difference you’re making by seeking perfection simply won’t be meaningful enough to your end user to justify the effort.

Finally, perhaps the biggest downside of perfectionism is that if you constantly strive to be perfect and to do everything perfectly, you may never be truly satisfied with anything, no matter how much hard work you put into it and how pleased your client is.

Instead, live by this motto: “Always do your best,” recognizing that on some days your best will be truly fabulous and on other days it will just be good, but it is still the best you have to offer the world on that day.

That is really all anyone—including ourselves—can expect from us.

Ketan Kapoor

Ketan Kapoor

CEO and Co-founder, Mettl

You start overthinking about what if the task doesn’t come out as expected

When you have a perfectionist mindset you start overthinking about what if the task doesn’t come out as expected. Or, what if I pour countless hours in a task that is bound to provide mediocre results? And from overthinking stems procrastination that leaves you nowhere with a task.

I call it the “POP Syndrome: Perfection, Overthinking, and Procrastination.”

You get overly comfortable with the idea of producing shiny work; but unfortunately, you can never gather the courage to start at all. Therefore, there has to be a starting point; even if you are chasing the idea of perfection.

Give yourself the privilege to improve your work with a couple of revisions or more.

Or else, the fear of producing shallow work will only inject anxiety in your mind and cause panic for work that hasn’t even started yet. Therefore, you must reassure yourself that you can’t figure out all in your mind in the first go.

James Rice

James Rice

Head of Digital Marketing, WikiJob

Striving for perfection and never completing anything won’t move things forward

Quality is definitely important: aiming for a good result should always be the goal. But striving for perfection and never completing anything won’t move things forward or allow you to learn from what you’ve done.

This doesn’t mean that you should produce sub-standard products or rush things just to get them done. But tinkering with something and being afraid to complete it will get you nowhere.

The phrase ‘Done is better than perfect’ is bound to be controversial. People take great pride in their work and this could be interpreted as saying that quality doesn’t matter.

Of course, we should always work to the best of our ability, but if you have the choice of working and re-working a project and never letting it see the light of day, and finishing something even though it isn’t 100% perfect, you should always choose to finish.

Perfection, generally, isn’t possible and where it does appear, it is usually unexpected.

Constantly looking for an idea of perfection can be hugely damaging and can lead you on the wrong path. Striving for perfection can stop you appreciating what you have achieved already and can prohibit your progress.

It can be scary when you need to finish something and you want to make it better. It can take a leap of faith. But at the end of the day, taking a leap, taking a risk, is always preferable to standing still.

Perfection is rare, but success doesn’t have to be. Don’t let striving for perfection prevent you from seeing that what you have done is good, or even great.

Oksana Chyketa

Oksana Chyketa

Marketer, Albacross

I’m certain that many would opt for ‘being perfect is better than done.’ But let’s take a look at this statement from the business’ perspective. Take an instance where you are starting an online business and you want it to stand out and of course be profitable.

You have two options:

  • you can build a simple site (not perfect, but working) where you can sell your products or services right away.
  • you can work on the logo for a month, then create the texts for each page, build a perfect landing page by testing it for weeks or even months until you think your site is perfect.

With the two options, I believe the majority will choose the first option – a working site that brings revenue- one which you can adjust, customize and improve with time.

So, when it comes to starting a business, I believe that done is better than perfect. But when it comes to the quality of your products or services, perfect is better than done – because your brand’s reputation and your customers’ trust depends on the quality of the services and products.

Amanda J. Ponzar

Amanda J. Ponzar

Chief Communications | Strategy Officer, Health Charities

The best way to get results is to try things

I always focus on done versus perfect because my style is about momentum – getting things moving and getting things done.

It’s important in life to press forward, and the best way to get results is to try things, smart things, and test them, and then measure the results and refine your approach to do even better next time.

Whether it’s painting the bathroom a few weeks ago, or writing a blog post, I dive in head first and “get er done” so I can check things off my long list. I had a friend who would draw a beautiful picture and then tear it up as it wasn’t perfect.

And I’ve known co-workers who were paralyzed to act and would sit there and stare at a blank computer screen because they couldn’t find the perfect words. Just get started and keep going. There’s an incredible feeling of satisfaction checking things off your list.

Katie Flashner

Katie Flashner

Blogger, The Girl with the Tree Tattoo

Perfection is an illusion

As a ballroom dancer, I’m always striving for that “perfect” performance. As a writer, I seek the “perfect” words. I know I’ll never reach those destinations, but that’s not the point. The point is to act.

If I waited until my dancing was perfect to enter a competition, I would still be waiting instead of smiling right now at the memory of winning a World Champion title. If I waited until my writing was perfect, I wouldn’t have three books published. Believing we have to be perfect before we can act can paralyze us.

Nature doesn’t wait to be perfect. It just acts with full intention and purpose.

The funny thing is that a fully committed action most often produces the results that we identify as near-perfect. The act itself is what brings us closer to our idea of perfection. We have to go out and “do the thing” in order to improve.

As an artist, I strive for perfection in my crafts while knowing I’ll never reach it. And that’s ok with me! If I were to achieve perfection, that would mean my journey would be over with nothing left to improve.

Instead, I act with full intention and commitment to reach my best at this moment. When I work toward “best” instead of “perfect,” I can complete things imperfectly and use the experience to move the “best” gauge a little further. The journey continues while perfection beckons on the horizon.

Kristi Andrus

Kristi Andrus

CEO | Head Coach, Luxi Coach

Done is so much better than perfect because perfection is subjective

Yes, even your ideal, your standard, your loftiest prettiest #lifegoals aren’t enough for someone else. Imagine that. Actually, don’t. Let go of perfect because perfect is a trap. Perfect promotes inaction because “it’s not ready” or “I’m not ready”.

Perfection is a sophisticated form of procrastination and the antithesis of collaboration.

“I’ll wait until…” is a way to sit on the sidelines and minimize risk. It’s a way to stay in our head where we can control all outcomes.

Done, on the other hand, is done! It’s liberating, motivating, and accomplished. Cross it off the list and move on.

Declare your readiness for more. The only way to move forward is to do something, to start where you are, with what you have, to put it out there, risk being seen for who you are, at the stage you are.

Perfection is seductive but also limiting

Let others fall in love with you now. Let them grow with you. Let them see your evolution and celebrate your journey. If you aren’t doing anything, sharing anything, there’s nothing to relate to. Reveal yourself.

Perfection is seductive, absolutely, but also limiting. If you can let it go, you just may find that messiness, unpredictability, progress is just as delicious.

Nick Disney

Nick Disney

Owner, Sell My San Antonio House

We have all been guilty of it, continuing to change, tweak, or think we could make it a little bit better.

Maybe it’s because we are afraid of what other people will think of our work or we think that if this project, article, or proposal isn’t perfect that it’s going to be detrimental to my business.

And while some of that might be true, the other side of the coin is that if you never finish you will be known as the person who did nothing, or your customer will never even have the chance to say “yes or no”.

Yes, do the best you can from the start…but then call it done and get it out there. If you remain open to it, you will probably receive some great feedback that you can use to modify the original project or, at worst, you can use that feedback in your next project so that it will be even better.

We must continue to move forward in our business and our lives even when we are not 100% sure. Don’t let trying to make something perfect stop you from ever having a chance.

Adam Kipnes

Adam Kipnes

Managing Partner, Coach Adam Kipnes and The 1495 Group

Whether you are creating a new product, offering a new service, or giving a presentation, the purpose is to deliver value to the audience.

The ‘thing’ you are creating doesn’t matter; getting it in front of people does. The longer you wait, the more you tinker, the drive for perfection keeps them from receiving this value.

The fact is until you present your offer to your market, you have no idea what perfect is.

Perfection, if there is such a thing, comes from delivering what you have, getting feedback from the marketplace, make changes and deliver it again. Do this over and over and you will then be providing exactly what your clients want and need.

You can spend days and weeks and years getting everything exactly the way you think it should be, and it may fall totally flat, no one engages, no one buys. The key is to get it out there and listen to the market on how to improve it. The market is always right.

Adam Cole

Adam Cole

Musician | Writer 

There is no perfect and there is no “done” either

But you can pretend that something’s done, and that can make the difference between your doing something and not doing it.

When I write a novel, the most important thing I can do is set a series of goals around it and accomplish the goals. I don’t worry about whether the book is perfect while I’m writing it. I worry about whether I’ll complete a rough draft.

Once I have a first draft of the book, even if it’s awful, I have something to improve. I may revise and edit the manuscript for 10 years. I know it’s never going to be perfect, but at some point, I decide I can’t get it any better, and it’s “done.”

We can go on improving forever, and it’s possible to enjoy that process. In yourself, in your work, in your relationships. But only if you never expect perfection.

Even if you could be perfect, you would only be perfect in a particular moment, for a particular person, for a particular reason. Really being the perfect person would mean having the capacity to change to suit every situation. And, funnily enough, that sounds a lot like continual improvement.

Kamyar Shah

Kamyar Shah

Business Consultant |  Remote COO

As the saying goes “Money loves speed” and in spite the fact that it sounds like a cliche it has a lot of wisdom.

Essentially there are two components that trump “perfect”:

Perfection is not an objective measurement; rather in the eye of the beholder

So even if one thinks that they have achieved perfection; it may not be perceived the same way by others.

Striving for perfection is inherently a process that should occur over time

Additionally, it requires feedback that can’t be given unless the product or service is offered to users. Hence, it has to be “done” before it can get to whatever the definition of “perfection” is.

Ultimately, there has to be a balance between getting things done and getting it done perfectly. Such balance is inherently a better compromise.

Candess Zona-Mendola

Candess Zona-Mendola

Editor, Make Food Safe

With perfectionism comes a sly complication: Procrastination

As a paralegal, I am a self-diagnosed perfectionist. This means, I always strive to have perfect work product. However, with perfectionism comes a sly complication – Procrastination.

Read related article: 23 Best Tips on How to Stop Procrastinating

When I was younger, I would do and redo my work in the quest for a perfect first draft (only to have it marked to hell in red ink by my boss).

It was when someone told me that, “a first draft is perfect on its own, simply because it is the first draft,” I learned to chill out a bit. I learned that, what seems perfect to me, will still be amended by others.

I may have the best brief draft for my attorney, but he will still make changes to put it into his own style and add his own arguments. So, I learned that a document would always be a work-in-progress. I needed to stop trying to make it perfect from the beginning.

This is when I learned that “done” was better than perfect. It is simply because done gets you to the next phase in a timely fashion. That doesn’t mean “done” should be sloppy work. It simply means it should be good enough to move to the next chapter.

Adam Greenbaum

CEO, Whisker Cloud

Perfect gets in the way of getting something done

Why can’t it be both? Of course, perfect is subjective, but if the parameters of a project, task, or event are set, why would we want to shoot for “hey it’s done” over “wow, this is something really special”.

I think the big issue is when perfect gets in the way of getting something done, but that goes back to how the project was initially set up.

My company is a SaaS company that builds incredible websites for veterinary hospitals, makes sure to manage their reputation, their online hours and listing, their web and mobile experience, online forms, managing their SEO, managing security and privacy issues for them, pretty much anything they need to survive online in 2019.

Finishing a website or set up and rollout for a client in a timely manner is wonderful, but not if the product we’re rolling out doesn’t showcase their business in an innovative and positive way.

I’m a perfectionist, and it’s something that causes more issues than solutions in my life. However, it’s also helped me grow a successful business, marry an amazing woman, and build an amazing family.

There are a lot of things in my life that could have been “done” and settled, but I chose to put in the extra time and effort for those things to be amazing.

Wanting perfection out of your employees and the people in your life is a lot to ask, but I’d rather be the New England Patriots than the Cleveland Browns, and I assume the standards in New England are much higher than they are in Cleveland.

Scott Perry

PMP-Certified Project Manager | Blogger, Catchers Home

The saying “Don’t make perfect the enemy of good”, generally attributed to Voltaire, is a common phrase at my workplace.

Some – myself being included at times – are tempted to work on something unceasingly trying to get a perfect product or outcome, when in fact what is needed is simply a product that is “good enough to get the job done”.

This means that providing an 85 – 90% solution can actually meet needs very well. And if absolutely critical, that 85 – 90% solution can then be iterated upon to bring it to 100% (ie, perfection).

I work at a very schedule-driven organization, meaning that getting a product or service ready on time is usually more important than any other consideration, such as cost or quality.

I’ve seen new services brought online that meet (or beat) a deadline and that bring a ton of new capability to my organization, even if that new service itself had not yet been perfected at that point.

But that 85% solution resulted in 50% revenue growth for a particular business unit, meaning that getting that service “done” was far more beneficial for more organization than waiting around for “perfection”.

David Ezell

David Ezell

Founder | CEO, Darien Wellness

Perfectionists are a lot of sizzle and a tad bit of steak.

Perfectionism is an interesting defense, a special sort of shield for anxious people. It is rarely criticized and in less informed circles, even valued. “I just want it to be perfect” is perceived to a statement about quality and care.

Perfection is an excuse, a reason to delay and delay

But more often it is an excuse, a reason to delay, and delay, and delay a little more. There is so much fear and insecurity around releasing a finished product–painting, book report, rundown for the CEO–that it just needs “a little more time” to get it right.

So the less-than-perfect, but delivered, item far exceeds the promises and excuses that keep perfectionists from producing little or nothing in their work.

Tara Meier

Tara Meier

Realtor/Team Lead, The RealDeal Arizona Team of North&Co.

Striving for perfection is a lifelong journey that isn’t human

Is anything ever really perfect? A project may be complete but it is just one building block in the construction of our lives.

Meant to evolve, striving for perfection is a lifelong journey that frankly, isn’t human.

No matter what it is you’re putting out into the world, the creative process is an organic one and will constantly change over time. What may have been perfect yesterday, will not be perfect tomorrow.

Perfection is a perception and a subjective one at that.

Publish the book, post the video, submit the article, whatever it is and then build upon it. Give it a starting and ending place to carry out the creative journey in a manageable way, being able to see the progress and feel good about how far you’ve come.

Morea Pollet

Morea Pollet

Business Consultant, Piedmont Avenue Consulting Inc.

As a business owner or startup founder, especially when starting, you want it to be perfect.

You have your idea and nothing can take it down, however, to get to that idea it is taking you forever and therefore, you still have nothing on the market.

The perfect example is website building. Building a website can take forever because you need the right pictures, the right content etc.

The issue is that the entire time your website is not live you are missing out and losing potential clients. Just make it live! If you have the basic pages, even one page that say “We are X and we do Y” is better than nothing at all.

Same idea for a product. You need customers review, you need to know how they feel about your product and most importantly what they really want to see in it. You don’t need perfection, you need it done.

Sa El

Sa El

Licensed Life and Health Agent | Co-Founder, Simply Insurance

I have learned through the years that you can always be done, but never perfect.

When I first started my agency years ago it was far from perfect, I didn’t know anything, I was fighting for the best contracts and trying to hire people and I hadn’t made 1 sale myself.

I learned the hard way that I was so busy trying to make it perfect that I didn’t get the most important part completed first. Learning the business.

Once I got licensed and appointed with insurance companies and found a few lead vendors I was done. However, in my quest to be perfect I lost all of my initial agents and had to rebuild from scratch.

When it comes to my online agency, I have learned that my site isn’t perfect, but it is done and that you can’t waste valuable time trying to make something perfect before you take action.

Starting is the most important thing you can do, just put it out there and fix the things that are important but don’t obsess over perfection because it can ruin a great business.

Julie Foss

Julie Foss

Founding Coach and Consultant, 4Good Consulting

Not to get too meta about perfection, but unless we spend significant hours calibrating around “perfect” with those for whom we are producing work, “perfect” falls somewhere between elusive and totally not the point.

Create the best product possible with the information provided and deliver with curiosity.

This means added efficiency for the organization and a better fit product or service. Ultimately “perfect” means a product or service is a match to the needs of those for whom it is designed. The only way to ensure that is to ask.

Do done. Then ask your way to perfect.

Marc Andre

Marc Andre

Personal Finance Blogger, Vital Dollar

Done is better than perfect because perfection rarely exists.

Feeling the need to have everything perfect will prevent you from completing things, slow you down, and make you afraid of other people’s opinions. Also, what may seem perfect today may not seem perfect tomorrow, or sometime down the road.

If you feel the need for perfection you may wind up constantly going back and fixing things that you thought were already done (and are already good enough).

In most cases, you can spend a lot of time trying to get from “very good” to “perfect”. The difference may not be that significant, but you may waste a lot of time making just that small, insignificant improvement.

Theo Lee

Theo Lee

Co-founder and CEO, KPOP Foods

When given a task, most people will want to perform the task perfectly, such as take the perfect product photos, create the perfect marketing campaign, or draft the perfect press release pitch.

However, what may be perfect to one person does not necessarily translate to be perfect to someone else. With that in mind, its better to get something done to a high degree, allowing for improvements and changes as feedback and reactions are provided.

A common phrase for this is the “80/20 Rule”, where is better to get something 80% done than absolutely perfect. This is especially critical in a startup sense or any fast-paced moving environment.

Pablo Solomon and Beverly Solomon

Pablo Solomon and Beverly Solomon

Award-winning Designers

After 43 years in the design business, Beverly and I agree that while in some cases “done is better than perfect” is just a lazy cop-out, it really is applicable in many cases.

Of course, you always want to do the best job you can for each and every client on each and every project. However, if you are going to make a profit and keep your clients happy, you must complete the project in a timely manner.

Of course, nothing is ever perfect. However, as previously stated you owe it to your clients, to yourself and to your profession to do the best you can in a reasonable amount of time.

Too often, those of us in the creative fields confuse achieving perfection with endless, neurotic nitpicking and self-questioning.

Do your best. If your client is happy, then you have done close enough to perfect to sleep at night.

Caitlin Fisher

Caitlin Fisher

Author | Artist

I’ve been a perfectionist since I was in fourth grade, and I was also a procrastinator because I never wanted to start anything for fear it wouldn’t come out just right.

Being a fourth grader obsessed with perfection was no fun at all, and this tendency also followed me into high school, college, and adulthood.

I still want to produce work that I take pride in and feel that I do the best I can; however, “the best I can” is different from “the best it could possibly be,” and this is a hugely important distinction.

I do the best I can with what I have available: time, energy, resources, etc. When I needed to create my website in advance of my book launch, I hemmed and hawed over how to host it and what it should look like and what to include.

And then I took an afternoon, told myself to just get SOMETHING up there, and I installed a basic template and added enough content to get by until I could roll out changes as I went along. If I kept waiting for perfect, I’d never get started.

Balazs Hajde

Balazs Hajde

Content Publisher, Authority Hacker

As a company, we’ve produced more than a thousand articles and other content across our portfolio of websites. While I certainly think our content is very good, had we refused to publish an article because it wasn’t “perfect,” we would never have been as successful as we are today.

Perfection is not something we can ever attain, but it’s something we can strive for every day.

Nobody has ever reached the top without learning from the mistakes they made while trying to get there. There are very things in life that you have to get right the first time, and even then you can always improve on existing things.

Often it’s best to just start doing things and give yourself time to develop your skills as you go. If you look at large YouTubers or bloggers as an example, most of them didn’t start with perfect production quality, rather they continuously improved their craft until they got to the level they are at right now.

Had these people refused to continue pursuing their passion because their first attempt was imperfect, they wouldn’t be where they are today.

Lizzie Benton

Lizzie Benton

Founder, Liberty Mind

Getting things done gives us room to assess and analyze what could be done better

We have a real problem with perfection in our current society, and it leads us to consistently feel like whatever we’re doing is simply not good enough.

But the truth is we should be seeking progress rather than perfection because perfection doesn’t exist. If we hold ourselves up to perfect we will never feel that we can do anything, and these self-limiting beliefs can stifle creativity and innovation.

Getting things done, gives us room to then assess and analyze what could be done better.

Rozene McCluggage

Rozene McCluggage

Chief Operating Officer | Co-Founder, Share Inside

In my experience organizing, managing IT and other people getting things done is more productive and more achievable than making something perfect.

As it may be perfect in someone else’s eye but it will never be perfect in your own eyes. Making sure our product was done and available for the rest of the team to sell was 100% better than making sure it was perfect, as our software is forever adapting it will never e perfect.

Natalie Athanasiadis

Natalie Athanasiadis

Owner and Head of Growth, Ormi Media

Done is better than perfect because perfect really doesn’t exist.

You should always aim for high-quality output but perfection is a myth. It holds you and your business back and stops your momentum.

Often people who have worked so hard to perfect something will also be reluctant to make a change, even if it has a positive impact on their life or business because they invested so much time in that “perfection”. It really can be detrimental in ways people aren’t aware of.

Ruben Ugarte

Ruben Ugarte

Founder, Practico Analytics

Done is better than perfect because our minds can’t properly express what “perfect” means

If the goal is perfection, then we will continue to find errors or ways to improve something. Done on the other hand gives us the freedom to finish something and accept any imperfections with it.

From a productivity point of view, getting to Done let’s go through a full feedback loop where you create something and then get feedback on it.

Going through as many of these feedback loops as possible will get us much closer to “Perfect” in the long-term than trying to do it on an individual piece/project.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How can individuals cultivate a “done is better than perfect” mindset?

Set realistic goals: It’s essential to set challenging but achievable goals. By setting realistic goals, one can avoid feeling overwhelmed and focus on progress.

Accept failure: Failure is a natural part of the learning process. Instead of fearing failure, you can see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Celebrate progress: Celebrating small successes along the way can help individuals stay motivated and focused on their goals. By acknowledging progress, individuals can build momentum and continue to move forward.

Practice self-compassion: It’s important to be kind to ourselves and acknowledge that we’re all human and make mistakes. Practicing self-compassion can help relieve the pressure of having to be perfect and focus on progress.

How can I overcome the fear of releasing something that isn’t perfect?

Overcoming the fear of releasing something that isn’t perfect can be a challenge, but here are some tips that can help:

Change your mindset: Instead of thinking of your work as “perfect” or “not perfect,” think of it as “good enough for now” and something that can be improved in future releases.

Get feedback and validation: Share your work with others and seek their feedback and validation. This can help you look at your work from different perspectives and see its value.

Remember that progress is more important than perfection: The most important thing is to keep moving forward, create momentum, iterate, and learn from mistakes.

Just do it: Sometimes, the best way to overcome the fear of releasing something that isn’t perfect is to just do it. The more you practice releasing imperfect work, the more confident you’ll become with the process.

Is there ever a time when perfectionism is beneficial?

Although the “done is better than perfect” mindset can be helpful in many situations, there are times when perfectionism can be advantageous. For example:

When it comes to safety: In industries such as healthcare and aviation, perfectionism is necessary to ensure that safety standards are met, and errors are minimized.

When attention to detail is critical: In fields like engineering and finance, attention to detail is vital to ensure accuracy and avoid errors.

When quality is paramount: In industries such as luxury goods and high-end services, perfectionism is often valued for maintaining high levels of quality and customer satisfaction.

However, it’s important to remember that even in these situations, the pursuit of perfection shouldn’t come at the expense of progress or action. Even in areas where perfectionism is valued, it’s crucial to prioritize progressing toward goals and learning from mistakes.

What are the most common misconceptions about “done is better than perfect“?

It means that quality doesn’t matter: As mentioned earlier, “done is better than perfect” doesn’t mean sacrificing quality for speed. Rather, it’s about finding the right balance between progress and perfection.

It’s an excuse for laziness: “Done is better than perfect” doesn’t mean you should be complacent or sloppy. It’s about recognizing that there comes the point when more effort doesn’t result in a much better final product.

This is only relevant for startups or small businesses: The philosophy can be applied in any context, regardless of the company’s size or the project’s scope.

How can I help others on my team embrace this philosophy?

Lead by example: Show others that you prioritize progress and completion over perfection by releasing products or completing projects that, while not perfect, serve a purpose.

Encourage feedback: Encourage your team to regularly share their work with others and solicit feedback so they can see the benefits of progress over perfection.

Be transparent about mistakes: Share your own mistakes and how you learned from them. Emphasize that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process in building an effective team.

Acknowledge successes: Celebrate small steps along the way to show that progress is important and help build morale and keep motivation high.

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