I will admit it, one of my most frustrating traits is that I can be a bit of a perfectionist. I will often spend as long tweaking and editing an email or document as it took to write everything to that point.
This can be important at times. Like when writing a peer reviewed paper for the consumption of a university faculty or writing the details of a legal contract. Most of the time though, it just doesn’t matter! I know that no one but me is likely to spend as long to read something as I have taken to write it. That is what makes it so frustrating!
The reality is that all the time taken in unnecessarily perfecting anything is both time that could have been spent better on something else, and time that people are not using or consuming that thing.
This post is deliberately an example of a better way. This was written in about 15 minutes, reviewed and edited once and then distributed. The key points are there and it achieves its main purpose. If I find in the future that it doesn’t hit the mark (which is unlikely), I will change it. Until then though it will be available for people to read and benefit from.
This same approach can be taken into most situations. If you are writing something it can be tempting to cover all the potential options and answer all possible questions. This can result in making something that is too difficult to consume. Instead it is better to cover the key points well and follow up if required.
If you are creating and releasing a product, address the identified need well and then distribute. There will be time for iteration and revision later.
In addition to resulting in a product that is in the hands of the people that need it earlier, it allows the opportunity for future changes based on real feedback. We often fall into the trap of thinking that we can help without first identifying the real need. What better way than solving the initial need and then asking the ‘consumer’ what else they may need.
It is very rare that we make a decision or take an action that we can’t amend later. In most cases it also just doesn’t matter.
It is also rare that the thing that is produced the first time is completely perfect. The point is that it doesn’t need to be. If it is ‘good enough’ to serve the intended purpose then it is exactly as required. The first version of a document, product, decision etc. is normally ‘good enough’ and is this makes it perfect for the intended purpose.