Over the years as a business owner, I’ve learned that perfectionism is actually the #1 killer of fast business growth. In today’s tough business landscape, you have to be able to change and implement fast.
And if you get stuck trying to make every single project perfect, you will generally only achieve a small fraction of what you could have accomplished during that same time period.
I’ve learned the hard way that it’s better to have something “good enough” that you can start selling, versus something outstanding that you don’t start selling quickly because you’re stuck trying to make it perfect.
In my quest to overcome perfectionism, I have tried nearly every time management process out there for getting things done as fast as possible, but with a quality level that I could live with. And there are certainly tons of time management and project management processes that each person can benefit from.
But if I had to choose just one time management process to use for the rest of my life, it would definitely be the one I originally learned from Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach.
Here’s how that process works.
Step 1: Finish The First 80 Percent As Quickly As Possible
Focus on getting the project 80 percent completed as quickly as possible. This is what most people would call the first version, or the first draft.
In most cases, once you get started and finish the first version of a project, your judgment will be that it is 80 percent done. In other words, you will generally evaluate the quality of it and rate it as 80 percent of where you would like it to be.
And this is usually true whether you have spent a ton of time preparing for the project, or whether you jumped right in without preparation.
So think about that for a minute. This is a really profound concept. Whether you jump right into a project without any preparation at all, or whether you spend days or even weeks preparing to start it, you will still feel like it is 80 percent finished in nearly every case once you actually jump in and complete the first iteration of it.
If that’s true, then why in the world would any of us ever want to waste valuable time preparing to start? It would be better to just jump right in and get started, and focus on finishing the first 80 percent (the first version) as quickly as humanly possible.
In doing so, don’t worry about being perfect. Just focus on getting the first 80 percent done.
And to be clear, this doesn’t mean that you have to personally be the one getting the first 80 percent done. It just means that you need to have someone get the first 80 percent done.
Step 2: Evaluate Whether It Would Be Worth The Effort To Make Improvements
Then, evaluate whether it is worth spending time to improve the project. In the majority of instances, the 80 percent (first draft) will be good enough and you can consider the project to be finished.
And if the project is not good enough yet to suit the intended purpose, you can keep going with Step 3.
Step 3: If The Current Version Isn’t Good Enough, Focus On The Next 80 Percent
If the current version (at 80 percent quality) is not good enough, then you focus on getting the next 80 percent done of the 20 percent that remains.
You can either have the person who did the first draft keep working on it based upon your feedback, or you can now put your own personal touches on the project to make it better. The key point with this step is to again focus on getting the next 80 percent quality level done as quickly as possible (without focusing on being perfect).
And again, once finished, you evaluate whether or not it is good enough. If so, the project is done, and you can move on to another project.
If it is still not good enough, you can proceed to Step 4.
Step 4: Repeat Step 3 Until The Project Is “Good Enough”
You simply keep iterating through the process described in Step 3 again on the remaining 20 percent until it is “good enough.” When determining what is “good enough,” just ask yourself how much difference it would really make if you went with this version versus spending time on an improved version.
If your customers would be happy with current version or it is otherwise good enough to serve the intended purpose, then why waste the time to keep going just so you would feel it is “perfect”?
Once the project is good enough to consider “done”, then you can roll it out and move on to your next project. That’s where you can build some serious momentum.
I know those four steps may sound simple, but they can actually work wonders in your business and your life. If you take the time to think about these steps carefully, you will see why perfectionism and procrastination are actually your worst enemies, and why this process can combat them once and for all.
The results you will see are nothing short of amazing. At least that’s what happened to me when I put this process into practice.
That’s why I highly recommend that you give this strategy a try and watch your own productivity soar for the rest of 2014 and beyond.
And once you see that it really works for you, please share this strategy with everyone on your team so that you can super-charge the results for your entire company.