There are some times when you have to accept that you will be unable to do your best work. I know this sounds awful, but it isn’t, it’s a matter of prioritization. You cannot be successful and be perfect. You have to sometimes accept that good and done are better than reaching for perfection and taking far too long than a project deserves.
As an example, I recently created a video for one of my companies, InformedIM. I really wanted the video to be absolutely perfect, but I’m completely aware that I have client work on my plate that needs to be the priority. So it is, I saved myself from being less than perfect or worse, late, on my client work by having a video that’s less than perfect. It’s good, but it’s not my version of perfect.
You’ll note that I said “my version of perfect”. That’s just it, we all have much higher standards of ourselves than we do of others. There are times when you have to choose which level you will attain on a task, your perfection or others’ good.
When is done better than perfect?
Here’s a fun exercise to figure out which projects should get your perfection and which should get others’ good:
- Open up a blank Excel worksheet and list your week’s tasks in Column A.
- Assign a value to each task from 1-10 of how important each task is in Column B (my clients are always a 10 in importance).
- In Column C, type in how long, as a best guess, it will take to complete the task to your vision of perfection.
- For Column D, type in how long, as a best guess, it will take to complete the task to the level of “good”.
- Now add up columns C and D.
For most people, this is an eye opening exercise. If you do everything to perfection, you’ll be in the fast lane headed towards burnout.
Eyes opened? Now let’s continue the excercise-
- Sort your Excel spreadsheet by Column B (how important each task is) from largest to smallest.
- Copy Column D to a new Column E, this will become your real time availability for perfection.
- Set up Column E to show its sum in real time. (The Excel function is =SUM(E1:E??) where “??” is the last row)
- Starting at the top of your sheet, individually replace the values in Column E (Real Time Availability) with Column C (Perfection) until you’ve reached a feasible amount of time to fit into your week.
You’ve just chosen which tasks can be completed to perfection this week and which will have to be good and done. After a few weeks of practice you’ll be able to ditch the Excel sheet and get better at prioritizing your tasks on your own. Best of luck!
Nick Inglis is the Founder/CEO of LeftGen Information Management Group (InformedIM, SolveIM, ClearIM & AgentIM), an expert on enterprise software, and is the author of the AIIM SharePoint Governance Toolkit. Nick has worked with companies as diverse as Ernst & Young, Shell and Canon. Nick is a keynote speaker on the topics of SharePoint, Information Management and Collaborative Technologies.