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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Perfectionist Procrastinator

Just a few days back I was talking about Steve Jobs, the uber-salesman and perfectionist. Turns out that he isn't only picky about product details, he is picky about everything!

Here is an article about how he became really upset when Pixar went public.

Because there was no carrot juice.

Of course, Steve has his legendary energy to drive him towards completing his tasks. What about other perfectionists who procrastinate because they absolutely cannot stand imperfection?

Actually that seems to be a common problem. To quote Voltaire:

The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Obsession with perfection is a common feature of high-achievers, but the flip side of that same coin is this compulsion may result in delay after delay. Or projects that are never completed.

Or even work that never gets started.

Here are some interesting articles describing the perfectionist attitude and how it can result in procrastination. I have pulled out one useful quote per article, in case you have no time to read them all.

1) In technology...

Making Good Technology Choices

"The greater the push for the perfect plan or result, the more chance what we will instead find is delay."

The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

"If a company is overfocused on process at the expense of getting to market, I guarantee that it will be climbing uphill against companies that place more emphasis on speed to market."

2) ...and in medicine.

Perfect Is the Enemy of the Good

"The problem is when perfect, being the enemy of the good, freezes us into inaction... Quality improvement is not about a single, billion-dollar fix. It is about a billion one-dollar changes."

Perfect is the enemy of good

"All along I should have realized that trying to do the perfect job—prolonging the operating time, and exposing the intra-abdominal organs to further trauma—would not have saved this patient's life and could in fact have been dangerous."

As for me, I was once quite the perfectionist myself. Grandiose plans never put into practice! Now though, as I grow older I become less picky about the details.

I think it's got to do with my general lack of caring.

Anyway, if you have procrastination issues, Steve Pavlina has written a very good article on how to deal with it.

Overcoming Procrastination

"The solution to perfectionism is to give yourself permission to be human... Realize that an imperfect job completed today is always superior to the perfect job delayed indefinitely."

Wise words my friends. So in future if I ever get criticized about how sucky Fresh Brainz looks, I'll just point them to this post.*


*Actually this post was edited at least three times before it was posted. At Fresh Brainz quality control is important, but our commitment to daily updates is also important!