Perfectionism can be a major roadblock to productivity

Posted on October 28th, 2011

I often look back at my younger years, and see all that I was able to accomplish in a small amount of time. Applications or websites I was able to create, etc. Everything seemed so easy, and I was able to just get things done. I wonder why that isn’t the case today. I tell myself it’s because I’m seasoned and what I write is simply better today– fewer bugs, fewer problems, better design, etc… And that may be true, but how much of that is holding me back from really being productive? Is it better to create it and then perfect it, or create it perfectly the first time? ¬†There’s a balance to be found, but I think I’ve been leaning far too much towards ‘perfection the first time’…

I just read this article about Perfectionism vs. Success, and it strongly resonated with me. I often try to make things perfect the first time. Often times, I get so obsessed with doing something the ‘right way’, that it keeps me from doing it at all! This is particularly difficult when I don’t have an external force driving me to get something done– such as a client or customer request with a deadline(implicit or not). Recently, I’ve been acknowledging to myself that I have a problem, but I’ve incorrectly identified it as a lack of organization– which has led me to creating organizational tools and processes to “get organized”. While helpful, it doesn’t address my core problem of trying to be perfect. ¬†Interestingly enough, creating my organizational tools went far quicker than expected, as I went into it with a “good is good-enough” attitude– as I know the tools won’t be customer-facing.

So, from here on out, I’m going to try to make a conscious effort to “just do it”, remembering “it doesn’t have to be perfect”– the first time, or potentially ever.