How to Win the Battle of Perfectionism vs. Productivity

Done is better than perfect. If you keep on tweaking and changing, nothing will ever get done. Ever.

Perfectionism can be crippling.  I know this for a fact because I battle it every single day.  

First, let’s talk about what perfectionism IS.  When I talk about it, I am referring to the constant battle to keep tweaking, reworking, and reviewing things over and over and over again on the quest for making it perfect!

Do you know what this leads to?  It means that nothing ever gets DONE.  And if nothing gets done, then guess what happens to our productivity?  It tanks. Completely.

If you battle perfectionism, then you know exactly what I am talking about.  The home project that has been 90% done for 6 months…that blog post you have been editing for 5 weeks….the course video you keep re-recording each week before you are ready to launch…that sewing project you keep taking apart and starting over….it is exhausting.

The battle of productivity vs. perfectionism is real. You want to be productive.  You want to wrap up that project and move on to the next one but you just can’t until the current one is done. And to you, done means perfect.  

Perfectionism is the enemy, friends.  The quest to be perfect will kill you.

So, how do we overcome this?  

I am going to pull from my old software days and share with you something I coached software teams to do.  

Define “done” before you start your project.  

For example, let’s say that you set out to launch a blog.  Before you sit down to write your first blog post, take a few minutes and write down what “done” means for you.  In this example, you could write down “My first blog post is done when I have a title, 3 paragraphs or more, and have let one person edit it.”  

If you are tackling a room decorating project, perhaps your definition of done could be “I am done when the walls are painted, new curtains are hung and a new chair is purchased.”

The purpose of doing this is two-fold:

  1.  To give yourself a target…an ending point. This way, if you start to go off track you can circle back to your definition of done and remind yourself that this project is done when those goals are hit.  If you want to add more or do more, that goes on the list for a new project.
  2. You need to give yourself permission to move on.  You need to release yourself from the given task and stop the endless churn.  You need to let yourself tackle a new project or task. You need to feel the sense of completion.


I have a post it note that sits above my computer that says “Done is Better than Perfect.”  I have to revisit this many times a day.  

Are my blog posts perfect?  Nope.

Are my podcast episodes perfect?  Nope.

Are my videos perfect?  Nope.

Does that mean they aren’t good or valuable?  Nope. Not at all.

I have yet to share any piece of content (video, post, course, etc) that I am truly happy with…that I think is perfect.  However, I know I have delivered valuable tools and resources that are helping many.  

Done is better than perfect.  If I kept on tweaking until it was perfect, nothing would have gotten done.  Ever. 

So…in the spirit of being “done”, I am wrapping this up.  I want to change it for the 10th time. But I won’t. It is done..and now I can move on to another task!

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