Done is better than perfect.

1 min read

The adage ‘done is better than perfect’ is often ascribed to Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.  I think the truth of it is amplified when working on a project.

One of the most common ways to get stuck during a project is perfectionism.  It can show up in the expected way of not being realistically satisfied with a piece of work on a project (feeling the need to keep re-doing a perfectly good ad layout, for instance) but it can also come up in the design of the project itself.

Is the project realistic in scope, scale and time?  And if the ultimate project goals are in good shape overall, are the interim stages and associated tasks realistic as well?  Are they tightly defined?  Can each be completed in a reasonable amount of time?

Knocking out a task or an interim stage of a project is a powerful boost for people and teams.  Think about the team that divides the same project into five roughly equal, digestible stages.  After completing 20% of their work, they’ve got a ‘win’ under their belt. They’ve got some momentum.  And they’re free to fully focus mentally on the next 20% of the project.  After the same amount of work, the team that’s working on the same project with no interim stages has nothing to celebrate and is more inclined to simply look at the fact they’ve got 80% of the work in front of them.

Of course, one of the surprising things about ‘done over perfect’ is that, in practice, the work often ends up better.  Large, ill-defined tasks and projects aren’t actually often filled up with a lot of productive work.  They’re filled up with a lot of ruminating and confusion.  The steadily progressing project that actually delivers work regularly though, is more filled up with productive work and has time and energy for edits and adjustments.

So, when working on a project, it can really pay to keep that simple saying in mind: ‘done is better than perfect’