Done is Better Than Perfect

31 May 2022

Photo by marekuliasz

Done is better than perfect. We all know that. But sometimes, it's hard to achieve this mindset and live by it. Why? Because perfectionism can keep us from trying new things, making mistakes, and learning.

If you are working on a project, it is better to finish it than perfect it. If you are trying to decide, go with the option that is done rather than the perfect one. In life, there will always be things that need to be done imperfectly to achieve perfection.

It can also lead to anxiety, depression, and even physical health problems. But there are ways to overcome perfectionism and live a more fulfilling life.

"Done is Better than Perfect"

In Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In, she powerfully argues that "done is better than perfect." Her thesis is based on the idea that if we can focus on doing our best rather than always trying to achieve the impossible dream of being perfect, we'll be more productive and happier.

Sandberg makes a compelling case for adopting a mindset of done-ness. She cites scientific research that shows that "when people are focused on getting things done, they are more creative and productive."

Done is Better Than Perfect: Why Google Lets Ideas Fail - YouTube

In addition, Sandberg notes that perfectionism often leads to stress and anxiety, which can have negative consequences both professionally and personally.

The Reasons

There are many reasons why doing is better than perfect. For one, it's more achievable. Trying something new is always more exciting and inspiring than waiting for perfection to arrive.

Plus, imperfection can be a valuable learning experience that leads to improvement.

Another reason is that done is often more appreciated than perfect. When someone does something perfectly, they may be arrogant and unapproachable.

But when someone does something with some effort and bugs along the way, people appreciate them more.

They're not just a good person who happens to do everything perfectly; they're someone who makes mistakes and shows vulnerability.

Done is better because it means you're taking action towards your goals and ambitions.

Perfectionism only leads to stagnation and frustration - let's try getting somewhere instead!

Are we striving for the wrong thing?

We all want to do things better and be perfect. But is it worth it? Unfortunately, the pressure to be perfect can often lead us to exhaustion and burnout.

We may become stressed over small details and lose sight of the bigger picture. It's important to remember that not everything needs to be perfect to succeed.

Sometimes doing things imperfectly can lead to better results. There are reasons why imperfection can lead to success.

First, by taking risks and being bold, you're likely to stumble upon creative solutions that wouldn't have been possible if you were overly cautious.

Second, by making mistakes, you're forced to learn from them and get better at correcting them.

Finally, by admitting that you don't know everything, you build trust with others and open up opportunities for collaboration.

The Downside of Perfectionism

Perfectionism is often seen as a good thing. This can motivate people to do their best and be their best. However, there are also downsides to perfectionism.

Perfectionism can become obsessed with details, leading to problems such as procrastination and stress.

The dangerous downsides of perfectionism - BBC Future

They also tend to be less satisfied with what they have accomplished and may feel that they always need to work on something new. Perfecting things can lead to disappointment, frustration, and even mental health problems in the long run.


Burnout is a term used to describe the psychological condition of feeling emotionally exhausted and physically drained. These feelings can come from working excessively hard for too long or constantly trying to be perfect. When burnout becomes a chronic problem, it can decrease productivity and enjoyment in life. Therefore, it's important to recognize burnout when it starts to happen so that you can take steps to prevent it from getting worse.


Anxiety is a common problem that many different things can cause. However, perfectionism is one of the most common causes of anxiety. People with excessive perfectionism often have high expectations and feel like they have to do everything perfectly. This can make it difficult to relax and enjoy life.


Depression can be a very difficult disorder to deal with. It affects mood, energy, and ability to think clearly. People with depression often feel like they are failing in some way. They may be perfectionistic and feel like they have to succeed at everything. This can make it difficult to cope with the challenges of life. However, there are ways to manage depression and improve your quality of life.

The Benefits of Being Imperfect

We all want to be perfect. We want to complete tasks, perform better in school, and make everyone around us happy. But is this really what we want? There are many benefits to being imperfect. Here are two:

1. It allows for creativity and innovation: When we strive for perfection, we often miss out on opportunities to be creative and innovative. Being imperfect means that we're not afraid to try new things and take risks. This can lead to breakthroughs in our field or simply more fun experiences in life.

2. Perfectionism can be a limiting factor: When we're constantly focused on being perfect, we may miss out on opportunities because we don't feel capable of achieving the standard. This can prevent us from reaching our full potential and living life to the fullest.

Done Over Perfect

We've all been there- the project is due tomorrow, and you don't have time to finish it. So the pressure is on, but you can do it- you tell yourself.

You sit down to start working, but you realize that this will not be easy before long. It takes longer than expected, and your project is done over perfect by the time you finish. Why? Because perfection is what got you here in the first place.

Don't let the pressure of a due date or your expectations get in the way of a great final product- instead, embrace imperfection and enjoy the journey. There are no guarantees in life, but completing your project perfectly can be yours with effort and some luck.

The Negative Effects of Perfectionism

Perfectionism can have negative effects on individuals and their achievements. It can lead to anxiety, stress, and depression, among other things.

The good news is that there are ways to overcome perfectionism and achieve success. Here are two tips:

1. Recognize when you're feeling pressured to be perfect. If you find yourself constantly striving for the highest standards, take a step back and assess why you feel this way.

Often, we're afraid of making mistakes or being judged. Address these fears head-on by talking about them with a trusted friend or therapist.

2. Don't compare yourself to others. There's no point in trying to be someone you're not – perfecting your performance only leads to self-doubt and insecurity.

Steps to Overcome Perfectionism

People are often told to "stop being perfect" because it's impossible to do. But that's not always true. There are ways to be better without being perfect. Here are four steps:

1. Accept that imperfection is part of life: It's okay to make mistakes and not achieve everything in one go.

2. Set realistic goals and deadlines: Don't expect to complete everything in a day or a week, but do aim for reasonable targets that you can realistically achieve.

3. Patience: Be patient with yourself, and don't get too stressed about getting everything done right away. Sometimes taking your time will result in better results overall.

4. Take breaks and refresh your mind and body as needed: If you're feeling overwhelmed, take a short break and come back later with fresh eyes and a new perspective on the task at hand.

Final Thought

In business, it's often said that "done is better than perfect." It's true. There's no need to over-complicate or micromanage a project if it's completed on time without any significant hiccups.

However, we often focus on the things we don't have time for or the things that aren't quite right when in reality, there are plenty of other things we could be doing better.

To achieve done, we should focus on what's essential and eliminate everything else from our daily routine. We should also set realistic expectations for ourselves and others so that everyone can be happy with the results. Then, with a little focus and some good old-fashioned discipline, we can all strive for done - not perfect.

By taking ACTION rather than dwelling on the shortcomings of our work, we can move forward and achieve our goals. So go ahead and do something; it'll be better than perfect!

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So very true. We often spend so much time trying to get something perfect that we prohibit the realisation of value on something not quite there but still adds value. Totally agree with Johnson.
Johnson Chau
Perfectionism is a very hard act to balance. On one hand, you want to do it to the best of your abilities but you don't want to spend so much time finetuning a detail that isn't going to be much value add. It's the contradiction between being perfect and trying your best that makes it very hard to overcome. I'm glad you provided some tips on how to address this!
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