When I first heard the phrase, “Done is better than perfect,” it immediately became one of my most-used mantras. It was so enlightening to me! I’m a recovering perfectionist, and I’d always known that perfectionism was hugely unproductive, but I was never able to figure out how to get out of the perfectionist cycle – until this quote came into my life.
Every time I start getting sucked into the cycle of perfectionism and procrastination, I remember that done is better than perfect, and I’m able to move on to finish whatever it is that I’m trying to accomplish.
Perfectionism is one of the biggest productivity killers out there – I know this from personal experience. It holds you back from accomplishment and joy. You’re unable to complete tasks and projects – instead, you just keep adding to that ongoing list of unfinished to-dos and ideas.
When we overwhelm ourselves by trying to make things perfect, taking the steps to achieve our goals suddenly stops being fun, and we convince ourselves that it wasn’t such a good idea after all. With a shift in mindset to start and finish things before we feel truly “ready” (whatever that really means), we’re able to take more action toward our goals.
Even if there are flaws, finishing a task is often the most important thing.
Now, I’m not saying to do crappy work. We should all be doing our best work, but at some point, we just need to get things done. Strive for the highest quality you can while still completing tasks and to-dos. Despite the flaws, finishing a task is an accomplishment to be proud of!
Being happy with completing a project to the best of your ability comes with benefits you may never have considered – here are 14 of those benefits:
11 Reasons Why Done is Better Than Perfect
1. You Get Results
Simply stated, you can’t get any results at all if you’re not finishing things.
Cleaning the bathroom, for example – if I know that a deep-clean of the kids’ bathroom will take me 45 minutes, but I only have 20 minutes to tackle it, old-me just wouldn’t do it at all. So I was getting absolutely ZERO results. Which is dumb, right? A non-perfectionist would dive in and either deep clean as much as possible or do a surface-level clean and come back another time for the deeper clean. Not me. For some reason, the bathroom thing is a perfectionist habit that I’m still working on breaking – I’m a work in progress, too!
When you’re dealing with perfectionism, you aren’t getting things done because you’re spending too much time worrying about the tiniest details. Figure out what “done” is in your situation, get to that point, and call it a day.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a work task or a project, perfectionism delays results. Getting things done means you have results, and you eventually learn to be happy enough because you’re checking things off your list – even if they aren’t perfect.
2. You Avoid Paralysis
My particular breed of perfectionism causes me to become paralyzed when faced with a difficult or time-consuming task. When I don’t know what to do in the amount of time that I have, I feel stuck and overwhelmed, and I just do nothing instead – procrastination at its finest.
The need to do everything right means I don’t know which direction I’m going, so I stay put instead of moving forward. If I put all of my focus into taking one small step at a time and actually completing tasks, I find that I’m able to get over the paralysis and accomplish whatever it is that I need to do.
3. You Save Time
Waiting for every little thing to be perfect is THE most time-consuming way to go about things. Usually when I’m striving for this type of perfection, I’m obsessing over one tiny detail that probably isn’t even important in regards to the overall output.
Learning to be content with being ‘done’ saves so much time (and energy!) in the long run.
4. You’re More Productive
No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to have both perfection and productivity at the same time.
This is a lesson that I learned the hard way. Spending hours to organize a closet or finish a blog post is too time-consuming – while I was going over and over everything again, trying to make it perfect, I was taking time away from doing other things that could have been more beneficial.
When you can’t let go of something until it’s perfect, you take forever to get it done. And when you take forever to check a task off of your to-do list, you’re certainly not being productive.
‘Done is better than perfect’ is about momentum – getting things moving and getting things done.
5. You Stop Procrastinating
Perfectionists have a tendency to procrastinate when they want everything to be perfect.
I get super overwhelmed when faced with a large task that I want to complete to my perfectionist standards. Rather than taking things step by step until completion, I putter around doing basically nothing. When I stop overthinking and just start doing, I’m able to get the task done and move on.
‘Done’ gets you to the next step in a timely fashion, eliminating the procrastination that can bog us down.
6. You Avoid Burnout
Mom burnout is real, y’all. When you wear so many hats and have so many balls to juggle, life gets truly overwhelming sometimes.
If you can avoid striving for perfection with every task, and concentrate on simply checking things off of your to-do list instead, you’ll stay away from the burnout that plagues so many moms.
Step away from Instagram and Pinterest – those beautiful photos aren’t real, but they do lead us to a subconscious demand for perfection in our own lives. And we don’t want or need that kind of burnout-inducing pressure!
7. You Can Still Fix It After It’s “Done”
Just because a task is finished doesn’t mean that you can’t go back and fix it later. This applies to just about everything you can possibly think of – your dirty / semi-clean floors, your linen closet, that blog post that you just can’t seem to complete…
Rather than trying to achieve perfection initially, remember that you can always learn from your mistakes and fix and errors or missed spots later.
Even if you feel like you didn’t put forth your best effort, you can always go back. Nothing is permanent. (Although it would be cool if the clean floors were…)
8. You Demonstrate Self-Confidence
When you value the idea that done is better than perfect, you tell others that you believe in your work.
You’ll no longer have to feel down on yourself for not getting the job done. The guilt you feel from procrastination and not being productive will be gone, which increases your self-respect and your self-confidence.
Even if you’re not putting out perfection, you have a finished product to show the world. It may not be up to your perfectionist specifications, but chances are high that it’s not horrible – in fact, it’s probably pretty great. You can feel good about completing it, which leads to increased confidence.
9. You’re Able to Celebrate Others’ Successes
Perfectionists are often envious toward others who are producing. They’re frustrated by their inability to complete tasks, so they’re jealous of the people who do complete the tasks.
Think of that Instagram-perfect mom whose house is beautifully decorated and always spotless. Or that blogger you follow who consistently puts out informative and well-written posts. Now stop worrying about what they’re doing. You CAN have a clean house. You CAN be a successful entrepreneur, even if you’re not the very first one to market with your product or service.
When you focus on completing your own work instead of being the best, you’re able to value the work of others instead of constantly feeling like you’re in competition.
10. You Make Room for Improvement
Perfection is a journey, not a destination – the more you work at something, the more momentum you gain, which ultimately leads to better, faster, and easier work. This is every bit as true for mopping the floors as it is for contacting potential clients or writing a novel.
If you put something out there that’s almost perfect, you can make small adjustments along the way.
There’s a saying out there that says, “You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great!”
11.You Find True Satisfaction in Getting Something Done
Completing tasks and projects, especially when you get to cross them off of a to-do list, is SO satisfying. Perfection keeps us making never-ending tweaks and changes, which is the very opposite.
There’s even a scientific reason for this! When you recognize a task or project as being completed, your brain releases dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that generates feelings of accomplish, satisfaction, and happiness. This release of dopamine makes you feel good and motivates you to continue completing tasks so you can extend that pleasant feeling.
12. You Gain Momentum
You’ll be able to accomplish more than you ever thought you could when you gain momentum from continuously completing tasks. Each project you accomplish creates positive momentum that makes everything that comes after faster, easier, and better.
There is no perfect. Perfection is an unattainable ideal, more of a journey than a destination. When you have the mindset that everything needs to be perfect, you never move forward.
Daily action is what keeps you on track and moving toward your goals. Perfectionism is what stops you. Forward progress is a good thing.
And when you focus on daily action and forward momentum, you’ll look back and see that your action got you REAL results – not “perfect” results, but they’ll most definitely be better than the results you would have gotten from attempting to achieve perfection!
13. You Stop Over-Complicating Things
Perfectionists tend to overthink, overanalyze, and, in general, overdo everything. If you’re fussing over every single detail of a project, you’ll make things more complicated than they need to be.
When you focus on simply being ‘done,’ you’re better able to see the big picture and less likely to get tripped up by the particulars of a task.
14. You’ll Realize That Perfection is Subjective
Your standards are way too high for someone else. Or they aren’t enough for another person. Let go of perfect because perfect is a trap. It’s different for everybody. Even if a person thinks they’ve achieved perfection, it may not be perceived the same way by others.
Perfection is a way to sit on the sidelines and minimize risk. It’s a way to remain stuck in your head where you can control all possible outcomes.
Done, on the other hand, is done! It’s motivating and liberating. Cross it off the list and move on.
I’ve learned over the years that you can always be done, but you can never be perfect. As busy moms, we need to accept that perfection is an illusion and that we will never be perfect or produce perfect work. If we can get it through our heads that perfection is a journey rather than a destination, every day we’ll become slightly better than the day before.
This concept of ‘done is better than perfect’ is a mindset shift that doesn’t happen overnight, but remember that perfection vs. accomplishment is a choice. Perfectionism isn’t doing you any favors. Accomplishment and task completion is what will net positive changes in your life and stop that overwhelm from sneaking in.
The only way to move forward is to do something – start where you are with what you have. Being the best is not worth the stress, procrastination, frustration, envy, and other negative feelings and actions associated with perfection. Focusing on quality is wonderful, and we should always be doing the best we can, but not at the expense of making ourselves miserable.
Some days your best will be truly fabulous, and other days it will be just “good,” but the key idea here is to go out and get things done anyway – because done is better than perfect. And our best is really all that anyone – including ourselves – can expect from us.
What do you think? Is ‘done’ better than ‘perfect’? Leave a comment with a personal example!