Perfection


Some people do not have a plan for the day or week, nor do they assign priorities. The result is shambles, things not done or not done in time, unhappy partners, family members  or clients etc. To have good intentions to do everything will end in disaster. Intentions are good, setting priorities is a lot better!

I’ve recently posted about goal setting and perfection. Both these disciplines come into play when setting the right priorities:

It’s not clever to plan the entire day or week and have every hour filled. If you do this you’ll start to overload and get into a pressure situation. Therefore when you do your “To Do” List, keep as much time as possible open, at least one third of a day should not be filled. Keep unassigned time for family, friends and yourself!

Take your Goals List and break it down into activities, add the dayly recurring activities and then look at the list again:

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this task need to be done immediately, is it urgent?
  • Is this task important?
  • Is this urgent AND important?
  • Is this task NOT important and NOT urgent?

Now order the tasks accordingly:

  • URGENT AND IMPORTANT: Do these tasks first.
  • IMPORTANT: Do these tasks next.

Eliminate the ‘not important’ tasks. They are time wasters and don’t bring you one step towards your goals. The 80 / 20 rules applies here too: Only 20% of all tasks are urgent and important. The other 80% don’t help you reach your goals!

It will take a bit of getting used to not doing everything you have on your initial list. But you’ll get better at this as you learn to select and judge what is really important to you. I can’t and don’t want to give examples here, because every person has his/her own priorities and goals. You’ll make mistakes at occasion, but that’s fine! We all make mistakes. So don’t let these mistakes stop you from making your “To Do” Lis.

Here’s an audiobook that might help you setting your own priorites better:

All of us are looking for practical ways to take control of our lives, whether in our personal relationships, our families, our work, our health, or our future plans. Daily challenges have a way of overwhelming us, making life harder than it needs to be. The good news is that the answers are out there. And they are Easier Than You Think: In the audiobook ‘Easier Than You Think’ Richard Carlson, Ph.D. tells you how to juggle the tasks without dropping the important ones.

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Often perfection and precision are confounded. That can lead to a major problem: People who want to have everything perfect often suffer from perfection paralysis. If you are trying to be perfect, your productivity suffers. You need to be able to tolerate imperfections.

It’s OK to be precise, and in some instances it’s important, like in goal setting. But precision does not mean perfection! You should think this over once and for all and then decide for yourself that:

  • You are not perfect and never will be.
  • Everything you do is and will be somehow imperfect.

Perfection Paralysis can be stopping you from doing anything, even in cases when doing something would be much much better:

  • If it is worth doing, it’s worth doing whichever way you can.
  • Nobody prevents you to later make a correction, just don’t overdo the correction stuff.
  • It will never be absolutely perfect!
  • Use the 80 / 20 rule!

The 80 / 20 rule says: Everything can be accomplished. It’s just a question of productivity: with about 20% of your effort (input) you get about 80% of the final result (output). Every percentage point higher, say 81% of the final result, will take a disproportionate effort. For the 81% output you might have to add 3% more input, for the next point to 82% it might be an additional 5% etc. The input to achieve a higher output increases disproportionally to the result that you get.

Let’s say you have to prepare exactly 10 kgs of apples, and you should try and get these 10 kgs right. But if it’s 9 kgs 990 grams or 10 kgs 010 grams of apples does not make a big difference. People who suffer from prefectionitis will juggle apples until the scales show exactly 10 kgs 000 grams.

Now let’s look at a merchant who knows that his customer will not wait the few minutes it would take him until he has found the last few apples to make exactly 10 kgs. He will toss apples into the bowl until the scales show 10 kgs plus something, might be 10, 50, even 100 grams over. It’s OK, because it’s precise as far as the customer is concerned, he asked and will pay for 10 kgs. He applies the 80 / 20 rule and does not overdo the perfection part, but he is precise with his measurement and has minimum 10 kgs on the scales!

Apply that to your life and the everyday tasks. Don’t be sloppy, just don’t try to be perfect. You, I, and everybody else, never will be! Giving yourself and your life the freedom of not being perfect and to tolerate mistakes and imperfections will save you from a lot of hardship and you will gain time to do things you like and want.