Hello, my name is Jeff and I am a recovering perfectionist.
It took me a long time to figure out that being a perfectionist is not necessarily a good thing. For the longest time I was proud of the fact that I would spend hours working and reworking things until they were flawless in every way.
The day I realized that everything does not have to be perfect right off the bat was the day I found freedom. Freedom from stress. Freedom from watching the clock. Freedom from self-doubt.
Now, I am not saying that we should stop striving for success and to do our very best. If you are not doing that you become complacent, and you are guaranteeing failure at some point down the road.
When creating websites and marketing them, time is often “of the essence”. There are deadlines to be met, and competitors to beat to the punch. In cases like this, total perfectionism can actually hurt you in the long run.
So, how do you both produce high-quality material AND not spend all of your time perfecting things?
Here are a few suggestions that have worked for me:
- Follow the 80% Rule – When developing websites and performing online marketing you simply have to understand that not everything will be perfect right off the bat. In fact, there will never come a time when your website will be “perfect”. If we continually strive to be perfect, there will never come a time when you are “ready to go live”. The 80% rule is the concept of accepting that things are done enough to go live. Is everything on the website functional? Good. Go live. There will always be time to test things and improve. In fact, that will never stop.
- Understand the Real Issue – When most people talk about being a perfectionist, they wear it as a badge of honor. The problem is, perfectionism is nothing more than a label we place on ourselves to hide the fact that we are afraid. Afraid of failure. Afraid of what others will think. Afraid of success. The easiest way to overcome fear is to face it head on. And that means coming to that point when it’s simply time to step over the edge and see what happens.
- Get a Second Opinion – One of the biggest issues most perfectionists have to face is self-doubt. In fact, we usually look more harshly on our own work than we do on the work of others. If you are unsure of whether your project is good enough for the public eye, have a trusted friend or colleague take a look at it and give their opinion. Make sure the person is both honest, as to not feed into your already existing perfectionism, and not overly kind, so they are not simply trying to feed your ego.
- Set Hard Time Limits – One thing that perfectionism will never overcome is time. By setting hard time limits for projects and sticking to them, you will force yourself to come to stopping points when the project simply must go live. There will always be time for revisions and testing of course, but set time limits on these as well.
- Become Okay with Mistakes – Ah, mistakes. None of us want to make them, but we all do. Embracing this fact and becoming willing to learn from your mistakes is one of the most important things anyone can learn. Perfectionists hate making mistakes. Unfortunately, because they do not allow themselves to make them, they also never learn anything new.
The funny thing is, since I stopped trying to make everything perfect right off the bat, the quality of my work has actually improved exponentially. Don’t be afraid to let things go. As I said before, you can always fix them down the road, and by allowing yourself to see something falter – or even fail altogether – you will learn from it and hopefully not make the same mistake again.