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.