Perfectionism vs Productivity

Perfectionism versus Productivity

Amsterdam, The Netherlands


motivation | 14 November 2016

I have always been somewhat of a perfectionist. If I don’t finish something in the way I had envisioned it, it eats away at me from inside. And I will continue working on it until it is, in my eyes at least, perfect or passable as perfect.

For a long time I saw this as one of my best assets. Being able to chase perfectionism and having the perseverance and patience for it.

The thing is, it’s not, perfect. If anything, it limits your productivity and keeps you from finishing anything at all. What you want, is to find a balance between being a perfectionist and being productive. Here’s how to balance the two (and why we should actually aim more for productivity).

1. First off, set your priorities. If a task calls for an eye for detail, sure, go wild on your perfectionism. But unless you’re working on something for the Queen, set your priorities. Do you need it to be perfect? Or do you need to start finishing your product now?

2. Secondly, failure is always good, if you learn from it. Failure is one of the fastest ways to learn and improve your skills. Don’t be afraid of failure but see it as an opportunity to learn from it.

3. Be a leading figure in your field. You can aim for perfectionism and wait forever to finish your work. But in the mean time, there’ll be others in front of you who will have finished more work than you and who will have gotten significantly better at their craft through continuous learning. If you’re relying on on/off successes, you’re not going to be leading anyone anytime soon. Aim to be the person in your field with the most experience instead and try to excel yourself every time you do. You’ll find yourself the master of your craft sooner or later.

I’m not saying we should all start delivering average work now. Don’t let your perfectionist attitude get in the way of you actually finishing things. If you can’t finish within the given time, finish it, learn from it and do again better next time. Always aim for the best work possible – but aim for perfectionism on the long run.