Perfection vs. Excellence

There’s a huge difference between doing something well and doing it perfectly. Attempting to be perfect can bring on feelings of inadequacy and even interfere with completing important projects. Excellence, on the other hand, is attainable and is always more than good enough.

Eliminate the idea of perfection from your life and you’ll see your productivity soar. For example, a poorly written, but complete, book can still be published. But a perfectly composed book that’s only half finished is essentially worthless. Of course, there’s a middle ground between poor and perfect. And that terrain includes excellence.

The problem with perfection is that it can never be truly attained. So, in pursuing perfection, not only are you doomed to fail, but in the end, you also might have nothing to show for your efforts.

The Law of Diminishing Returns

Apply the Law of Diminishing Returns to striving for perfection:

Imagine if you spent 25 hours on a two-page paper for a college class. Would you get an A? I would certainly hope so, but what else may have suffered because of it? What about your other classes and obligations? Maybe instead you could have done something enjoyable.

The other thing to consider is this: could you have gotten an A with two hours of work? Or five? From a practical standpoint, the same results can often be attained with much less time and effort. There is nothing to be gained by spending more time on something than truly needed.

If you spent six hours washing and waxing your car and your neighbor spent two hours on his, do you think anyone could tell the difference a week later? More importantly, what else could you have accomplished with those extra four hours? Life is short, and there’s a lot to do. What else could you do with your time besides trying to be perfect?

Pursuing Excellence Instead

Of course, you’ll want to decide on the level of excellence you wish to attain before getting started on a project. Everything you do should have standards that you strive to attain. If you choose your benchmark of completion properly, there’s never a good reason to go beyond that point.

What exactly is excellent, anyway? In our discussion, excellent means that the task was completed at a high enough level that there’s no cause for concern. You know your work will meet whatever requirements are put upon it. Regardless of the nature of the task, you know that it’s done well enough and you have zero concerns about it.

When deciding how well a project really needs to be done, consider the possible outcomes if the task is completed at various levels of quality. Obviously, a surgical instrument requires a much higher level of quality than a spoon.

Once the proper level has been set, you now have a target, a goal that’s been chosen with some thought and intelligence. Now, simply perform the task to that level and stop. That task is completed, and it’s time to do something else.

Giving up a habit of pursuing perfection might seem challenging. However, you’ll be happier, more productive, and you’ll maintain your sanity much more easily by striving for excellence instead. Focus on exceeding expectations. In terms of time, quality, and productivity, excellence always wins in the end.

Effective Time Management Tips

Time is the one thread that runs through all of our lives. Whether you’re always early for an event, arrive as scheduled, or prefer to be fashionably late, you’re probably also watching the clock. Wouldn’t you love more time in your day to squeeze in more activities?

So how can you get more hours out of your day?

Consider these time management tips to enhance your productivity:

1. Preview your schedule for the day the first thing in the morning. Use your calendar effectively and you’ll be able to spend your time more judiciously.

* With practice, you’ll learn to recognize which tasks need more time to be completed and which tasks’ scheduled time can be shortened.

2. At work, if you’re responsible for leading a meeting, be prepared. Write the meeting agenda in advance.

* Stick to the time allotted for each agenda item.

3. Keep your focus on the task at hand. If you need to finish writing a report, stay with it until the report is completed.

4. Take active steps to screen out distractions. If you work better with soft music playing in the background, arrange to listen to your tunes while you complete your tasks.

* If you’re on the job, close your office door to deter people from stopping in to say, “Hi,” or ask a quick question.

5. Stand up. If someone calls you into their office for a minute to get your opinion on an issue, avoid sitting down. Impromptu meetings are shorter when at least one of you stands.

6. Have confidence about limiting chitchat at work. Don’t be afraid to tell people you can’t talk right at the moment. Rather than getting perturbed, your associates may praise your work ethic of finishing your projects before taking time to chitchat.

* You’re also setting a great example for the other employees.

7. Get comfortable with saying “No.” Being assertive is the hallmark of effective time management.

* When you take on more projects than you have time for, the quality of your work may suffer. Plus, your most important tasks don’t get addressed in a timely fashion if you have too much to do. You’re more likely to get more work done – and do it well – if you aren’t overwhelmed by taking on too much.

8. Use your planner at home as well. If you’re struggling during off-work hours to manage your time, feel free to also use your planner there. Write in your schedule when you want to work on certain home projects, like washing your car or cleaning the living room.

9. Set timers or alarms to keep you on task. For example, if you plan to clean your bedroom for an hour, set the alarm on your cell phone. Stop working on the chore at hand when the timer goes off, but not until then (unless you complete the task).

* Playing “beat the clock” can be highly motivational. Plus you’re likely to get more done.

* For particularly troublesome tasks, set your alarm in smaller increments – even 15 minutes – and take a short breather when your alarm sounds before you re-focus on your task. In particular, you may find that physically challenging tasks are much more manageable if broken into smaller, more do-able “pieces.”

Managing your time effectively will make you more satisfied and productive. Practice these tips to get a handle on everything you want to complete. A well-managed life is within your reach!