‘Perfect is the enemy of good’.
This quote has haunted me since the day I first read it. For me, it can also mean ‘perfect is the enemy of done’. Too often, people (including myself) mistake progress for perfection. We spend time focusing on the tiny details without considering whether the project is moving in the right direction. And most of all, we are confused by the word ‘done’. Since there is always something more that can be changed or tweaked to make it ‘more perfect’, there is no possible way something can be ‘done’. I’ve learned that sometimes doing the bare minimum is more than enough. In fact, sometimes it is synonymous with ‘perfect’.
I came to this realisation when I submitted two university assignments in my second year of medical school. The first, I poured countless hours into and tried to make it more interesting/unique than what I thought my peers would write. I spent late nights changing the colours of my graphs, overthinking words I’d written in my introduction and adding complexity to the task. For the second assignment, I did exactly what the professors had asked of me, no more and no less. I finished it about 4 days early, rather than 4 minutes before the submission deadline. And as you can probably guess, I did better. Significantly better.
What is the lesson here? Perfection prevents progress. The more time we have to work on a project and dwell on it’s imperfections, the less perfect it looks. When we are forced to be happy with it as it is, we work in a more focused way. Sometimes doing the bare minimum is better than doing too much.
I hope you have an incredible week,