Why Done Is Better Than Perfect? (12 Reasons + Expert Insights)

So this phrase “Done is better than perfect” is floating around a lot, isn’t it? 

It’s a simple phrase, but holds a lot of truth. It means that it’s better to complete a task or project, even if it’s not perfect, than to keep working on it forever, trying to make it flawless.

I know from personal experience how easy it is to get caught up in the pursuit of perfection. But here’s what I’ve learned: when we focus on getting things done first and then improving them later, we make more progress and feel more accomplished.

In this article, we’ll talk about why chasing “done” beats chasing “perfect.” We’ll look at how completing tasks, even when they’re not perfect, can lead to greater success and happiness than constantly striving for perfection.

So, if you’re ready to break free from the perfectionism trap, keep reading!

Perfectionism = Procrastination

Perfectionism and procrastination—two peas in a pod, aren’t they?

Sometimes, perfectionism is just a fancy way of saying “procrastination.” We use it as an excuse to put things off because we’re afraid of failure, judgment, or not being good enough.

“Oh, I’ll start that project tomorrow, I just need to do a bit more research first,” we tell ourselves. Or, “I can’t possibly send that email yet, it needs to be absolutely perfect.”

But here’s the thing: using perfection as an excuse only holds us back. It keeps us stuck in a cycle of inaction and prevents us from achieving our goals.

So, the next time you find yourself using perfectionism as a shield, ask yourself: “Is this really about wanting things to be perfect, or am I just afraid to start?”

"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."

— Jeanne Yocum | Blogger, Succeeding in Small Business

Small Steps Lead to Big Results

Ever heard the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? Well, guess what? Neither are our dreams, goals, or even our projects. Big achievements are usually the result of many small steps consistently taken over time.

So, instead of feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of your goals, break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. Focus on making progress, not perfection, and celebrate each milestone along the way.

"The solution is what I call a two-pronged attack on perfectionism:

1. Accept that you will NEVER become perfect in whatever you do (this is a must).

2. 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."

— Nikola Roza | CEO and Owner, SEO for the Poor and Determined

Done Saves More Time

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and it’s up to us how we use them. Striving for perfection can eat up a HUGE chunk of that time. We might find ourselves spending hours on tiny details that, in the grand scheme of things, don’t really matter.

Think about it: Are you spending more time polishing a project to an immaculate shine or actually getting it out there and making a difference?

Sometimes, good enough is, well, good enough! By letting go of the need for perfection, we free up so much time and mental energy to focus on other important things, like spending time with loved ones, pursuing hobbies, or simply relaxing and recharging.

Perfectionism Causes Unnecessary Stress and Anxiety

Life can be stressful enough without adding the pressure of perfectionism on top of everything else.

Just imagine if we’re constantly striving for perfection; it’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of stress and anxiety. We start second-guessing ourselves, worrying about what others will think, and beating ourselves up over every little mistake.

But here’s the thing: perfectionism is often rooted in fear. We’re afraid of failing, of not being good enough, of letting others down. And when we let those fears control us, it can take a serious toll on our mental health.

The thing is, life is messy and unpredictable, and things don’t always go according to plan. And that’s okay! Learning to embrace imperfection and accept that “done” is often better than “perfect” can take a huge load off our minds and help us feel calmer and more at peace.

Done Builds Momentum in Projects

Getting things done, even small things, creates momentum. It’s like that initial push you need to get the ball rolling. Once you start ticking tasks off your list, you’ll find that it becomes easier and easier to keep going.

Each completed task, no matter how small, gives you a sense of accomplishment and motivates you to tackle the next one. Before you know it, you’ll have made significant progress on your project, and that feeling of accomplishment? Well, that’s simply unbeatable.

Done Is More Realistic

In an ideal world, we’d all have unlimited time and resources to make everything perfect. But last time I checked, we’re living in the real world, and the real world has deadlines, budgets, and competing priorities.

Acknowledge that while the ideal can be nice to aim for, the real world often requires us to make trade-offs:

  • Time vs. Quality: Sometimes, there just isn’t enough time to polish everything to a shimmer.
  • Effort vs. Impact: Putting massive effort into minor details often yields diminishing returns.

It’s less about cutting corners and more about crafting a sensible, achievable approach that keeps you and your projects moving smoothly forward.

Done Shows You Are Proactive

Being proactive is all about taking charge and making things happen rather than waiting for them to happen to you. And guess what? Focusing on “done” instead of “perfect” is a fantastic way to flex those proactive muscles.

When we prioritize progress over perfection, we’re more likely to take action, even if it means starting small or taking imperfect steps. We don’t wait for the “perfect” moment or the “perfect” plan—we just dive in and get things done.

Example: Proactive people are like those go-getters who show up early to the party, ready to mingle and have a good time. They don’t wait for an invitation or for someone else to make the first move—they take the initiative and create their own opportunities.

Done Gets You Results

When you focus on getting things done, you see real results. Instead of waiting for everything to be perfect, moving forward and completing tasks leads to progress.

Finished tasks bring results, while unfinished tasks, no matter how perfect they are planned, bring nothing. Think about it:

  • A website that’s 90% complete and launched is infinitely more useful than a website that’s 100% perfect but still sitting on someone’s hard drive.
  • A business plan that’s put into action, even if it’s not flawless, has a much better chance of success than a perfect plan that never sees the light of day.

So, instead of getting caught up in the pursuit of perfection, let’s focus on taking action and getting things done.

Getting Something Done Is More Satisfying

Let’s face it; there’s nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishment that comes from finishing something. Whether it’s completing a project, reaching a goal, or simply checking something off your to-do list, getting things done is incredibly satisfying.

And you know what? That feeling of satisfaction is way more rewarding than the fleeting sense of perfection that often comes with unrealistic expectations.

When we focus on “done,” we allow ourselves to experience the joy of progress, the thrill of accomplishment, and the motivation to keep moving forward.

Perfectionism Can Lead to Missed Opportunities

Here’s the thing about opportunities—they often come knocking when we least expect them. And if we’re too busy trying to perfect everything before taking action, we might just miss out on those golden chances.

Opportunities don’t wait around for perfection. They come and go, and if you’re not ready to seize them, someone else will. 

Of course, it’s important to be prepared and put your best foot forward. But sometimes, we just need to take a leap of faith and trust that things will work out. Remember, done is better than perfect—and sometimes, good enough is good enough.

You Can Still Fix It After It’s Done

One of the biggest fears that fuels perfectionism is the idea that once something is done, it’s set in stone, forever flawed and unchangeable. But guess what? In most cases, we can always go back and make adjustments, improvements, and tweaks along the way.

Here’s why finishing tasks now and refining them later is a smart approach:

  • Immediate feedback: Once your task is out in the real world, you get real-time responses on how well it works.
  • Less pressure: Knowing you can make changes later takes the pressure off needing everything to be perfect right away.
  • Faster learning: The quicker you finish tasks, the quicker you learn what works and what doesn’t, helping you to improve not just the project at hand but also your skills in the long run.
"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!"."

Melitta Campbell | Business Coach | Mentor

“Perfect” Often Isn’t Much Better Than “Done”

 Sometimes, we get so caught up in this pursuit of perfection that we forget to ask ourselves: is “perfect” really that much better than “done”? In many cases, the answer is a resounding “Nope!”

Sure, there might be some minor differences, some tiny details that only we notice. But in the grand scheme of things, the end result is often quite similar.

So, next time you find yourself obsessing over every little detail, take a step back and ask yourself: Is this really making a significant difference? Or am I just holding myself back from the satisfaction of getting things done?

"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."

— Ben Brearley | Founder, Thoughtful Leader

Takeaways from the Experts

“As a paralegal… I always strive to have a perfect work product… 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.”

Candess Zona-Mendola | Editor, Make Food Safe

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.

— Jeanne Yocum | Blogger, Succeeding in Small Business

How can I overcome my perfectionist tendencies?

It’s all about changing your mindset. Start by setting more realistic expectations and remind yourself that mistakes are a part of growth. Prioritize the most important tasks and give yourself permission to adjust things later on. And most importantly, be kind to yourself!

What should I do when I feel stuck because my work isn’t perfect?

Take a break and step back to gain some perspective. Talk to friends, colleagues, or mentors about your work—they’ll likely remind you of the value of your “imperfect” work. Focus on the progress you’ve made and not the elusive goal of perfection.

Does letting go of perfection mean compromising on quality?

Not at all! Letting go of perfection means recognizing that perfect is not the only standard for quality. It’s about focusing on the quality that matters most for the project or task at hand and being efficient with your time and resources.

What if I’m in a field that requires perfection, like medicine or aviation?

When it comes to fields like medicine or aviation, where precision and accuracy are critical, it’s essential to maintain the highest possible standards.

However, even in these high-stakes fields, it’s important to recognize the difference between necessary precision and unhealthy perfectionism. Focus on meeting the required standards while also being efficient and productive.

Final Thoughts

Perfection might sound fancy, but done is where the progress is at. It’s a reminder that our worth is not tied to our ability to achieve perfection but rather to our willingness to show up, take action, and keep moving forward.

Life’s too short to worry about everything being spotless and without fault. It’s about doing your best and finding joy in what you’ve done. It’s okay to make mistakes, learn, and grow.

Remember, every time you finish something, you’ve achieved something. That’s the real deal, no matter what anyone says. After all, done is what gets us through, and it’s absolutely something to celebrate!

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Clariza is a passionate writer and editor who firmly believes that words have great power. She has a degree in BS Psychology, which gives her an in-depth understanding of the complexities of human behavior. As a woman of science and art, she fused her love for both fields in crafting insightful articles on lifestyle, mental health, and social justice to inspire others and advocate for change.

In her leisure time, you can find her sitting in the corner of her favorite coffee shop downtown, deeply immersed in her bubble of thoughts. Being an art enthusiast that she is, she finds bliss in exploring the rich world of fiction writing and diverse art forms.