A PEEK AT MY WEEK NO. 16: IS DONE BETTER THAN PERFECT?
Done is better than perfect. I’m not sure who’s taking the credit for that saying these days but after it was painted on the wall of Facebook’s headquarters a few years ago, I’d say they probably are.
Any perfectionist trying to move forwards with a project, an idea or even, a single piece of work, probably really struggles with this thought. In this post a few months ago, I said that I was trying to do more. The example I gave of one thing I wanted to do more of was to get more Youtube videos up, even though they are so far from being perfect. I have a vision of how I’d like my videos to be: the quality of the visuals, the editing, the music, the sound, how natural I am in front of the camera, etc. and I know I’m a long way from that. I honestly have to drill the words “done is better than perfect” into my mind before uploading a video because otherwise, I would just re-shoot and re-shoot endlessly, and not get anywhere.
Over the last few months, I’ve found that I was struggling to keep pushing myself (with the videos, as well as a few other things that I’m working on) to get things done. So, for any of you out there who might be in the same situation, and quite frankly, also as a reminder to myself, here are a few things that I try to keep in mind when I am having that very familiar efficiency vs. perfection battle.
We’re all trying to get something done. Whatever you’re doing; whether you’re trying to find a new job, working on an e-commerce website, hoping to start a blog, growing your social media following, starting a consulting company, redecorating your house, if you need a little boost, keeping these things in mind could help…
Break it down into steps. Thinking about the ultimate goal never seems to get me anywhere. Thinking “I need to get a job” is just going to feel like an unbelievably huge hurdle to overcome. I start by writing down the first three things I need to do to get there. Normally, doing this gets the ball rolling and changes my mindset. I start thinking in baby steps and my to-do list simply becomes a list of manageable steps, rather than mountains to climb.
Consider how much is a reasonable amount of time to spend on the task. Parkinson’s law says that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. You could spend 2 years working on a website, because there is always something more to do. I have been known to spend hours trying to figure out how to code something for my website or figure something out on Illustrator or Photoshop. Recently, I’ve been trying to decide how much time is a reasonable amount of time to spend doing it (taking into account the value of the task to my business or me), and then go from there. If I can’t do it or figure it out, I ask for help, consider paying another freelancer to do it for me (or better, teach me), or just let it go and write down the steps I learnt to speed things up if I want to try it again next time.
Have something or someone to hold you accountable. When you have paying client, you are probably working with a deadline. The funny thing about a lot of my work is that I often don’t even have a deadline, never mind an employer, holding me accountable. This is the case for a lot of people starting businesses – you don’t really have a deadline for when your website/blog/e-commerce platform needs to go live, but unless you give yourself one, you might just keep putting it off. You could tell all of your friends that your website is going live on the first of the month or make a promise to your readers or clients. Whatever it is, figure out what will make you keep your word and stick to it.
Stop yourself from making excuses. When I need to film a video, I often find myself making excuses… there’s not enough light, I won’t have time to edit it or even, as ridiculous as it sounds, I’m having a bad hair day. I like to think about the reasons why I’m putting it off, whether that is a good enough reason to not take action, how I’ll feel if I don’t do it and then, how I’ll feel once it’s done. Often, that thought process gets me back on track.
Settle for the imperfect version and accept to learn as you go. I feel like we learn this so early on in life and then seem to forget it. When I see my friend and photographer Hannah’s little boy learning to walk, I don’t see him giving up because he can’t do it perfectly. He just gets so excited (and it’s the cutest thing ever) every time he learns something new. I’m trying to remind myself to have this attitude. And yes, a 10 month old is my biggest inspiration these days!
When I improve my photography even just a little bit, or learn a new editing technique, rather than beat myself up about the final result still not being perfect, I focus on the things that I learnt in doing it.
If you’re holding back from doing something because you’re worried you’re not good enough, just think about doing it because you want to get better. From time to time, press publish on that blog post that you aren’t 100% satisfied with, send off the application letter, make your imperfect website live, and if you can, tweak it as you go. If it’s something you can’t tweak, learn from it and make the next one better.
Yes, that’s my little buggy of inspiration right there.
Stop being so hard on yourself. Whatever you’re doing, I’m sure you’re doing great and whatever it is you’re trying to do, think about how far you’ve come, the things you’ve learnt, the people you’ve met and all those crazy cool milestones that you’ve achieved. And even if you don’t get it done today, give yourself a pat on the back because I’m sure you’ve come a long way from where you started.
Now I’m done with my little pep talk to myself, I really better get moving. I have a ridiculous looking to do list staring right at me.
If you’re struggling with something, I hope these words can provide you some fuel to get moving. Good luck! xS
Photos by Hannah Shan Photography