Done is Better Than Perfect? Maybe, But Here's the Other Side

The mantra “done is better than perfect” expresses the wisdom of accepting the limitations of our human condition, and embrace the value of action over inaction.

For me, the way I like to put it is that done is not the opposite of perfect, but rather a step towards it, as we can always refine and polish our work later.

In terms of taking action, we often waste more time waiting for perfection compared to getting the work done and iterating upon it.

While prioritizing action over perfection allows us to overcome procrastination and make gradual progress, we must also acknowledge that striving for excellence can lead to remarkable results.

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Tension Between 'Done' and 'Perfect'

Perfectionism often gets painted as the enemy of progress, but hear me out. Striving for excellence, not just "good enough," can unlock a level of creativity and quality of work that wouldn't be possible with a "done is better than perfect" mindset.

This doesn’t mean that we should ignore the value of gradual progress altogether. It means rather, that we shouldn't default to it.

Think about the iconic works of art that we marvel at or the life-altering inventions that we’ve witnessed. Both are the results of human curiosity and experimentation, and have contributed in challenging our perception and understanding of the world.

I don't think any of them were achieved with a "meh, good enough" approach. Because this usually requires years of meticulous work, coupled with a relentless pursuit of excellence and refusal to settle for anything less than extraordinary to achieve them.

A good example is Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Mona Lisa. It is said that he worked on this masterpiece for over 15 years, and never considered it finished.

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Art of Constraints

Amidst the tension between 'done' and 'perfect', constraints can be seen as either obstacles or opportunities, depending on how we approach them.

Limitations, deadlines, and resource constraints can be frustrating, but they are also a great catalyst for innovation. When we're forced to work within boundaries, we tap into our ingenuity and find unconventional solutions that might not have surfaced otherwise.

I will argue that the more constraints we encounter, the less we tend to gear into the 'good enough' approach. And the less constraints we encounter, the more we tend to gear into this same approach.

Based on observations, this argument stems from the human tendency to grow
complacent when we have too much of anything.

In Closing

In a fast-paced world, the pressure to "do more" and "do it faster" is something that we're constantly exposed to. But as we've come to realize, rushing through tasks always leads to subpar results and burnout.

Taking the time to plan, research, and refine our work, even if it means slowing down, can yield far greater results in the long run.

The balance is in finding a sweet spot between taking action and striving for excellence. Because while "doing" is important, "doing well" is also equally important.

Thanks for reading!! Share your thoughts below on the comments.

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