Here’s to the Productive Perfectionists

by | Mar 3, 2020 | Design, Reflections

Based on that title alone… can you relate?

Do you find flaws in your work no matter how much time you put in?
Do you feel your creative mind dwindling as you try to endlessly improve?
Do you try to fix your work in your head long after you’ve logged off for the day?
Do you find yourself fighting between “getting it done” and making it “good enough”?

Me too.

In the process of trying to achieve my standard of perfection, I find myself designing in circles. Literally. I will scoot the different elements of a design around and around the screen, just to hit save a few hours later with the design looking exactly how I originally had it. This leaves me feeling frustrated that I was neither efficient with my time, or producing work that I deemed perfect. 

Striving for excellence does not need to be a stressful experience. Doing our very best is a key part of what makes what we do meaningful. Over time I have learned a few things that have really helped me find the balance of doing my best while not feeling overwhelmed with all I could be doing better.

First, moderation is key and this applies even to perfectionism. We can critique and improve and nitpick, but when it starts to overshadow all we have done well, it becomes unhealthy and exhausting. We have to be able to accept that sometimes doing our very best means skipping the excessive nitpicking, celebrating what we have done well, and moving onto our next project.

Second, our version of perfection is different than everyone else’s. Clients will not focus on the minute flaws that you do. We should strive to do our best, instead of striving for perfectionism. Our clients will love us for it.

And lastly, something does not have to be “perfect” for it to be excellent and effective. We often forget that we are learning as we work. If we had unlimited time to submit a project, we could keep improving for all of time, changing things as we learned and worked. But we do not have that luxury. Instead, we have to be able to find a good stopping point and be content with what we have made, learning and noting how we can do better next time.

So how do we do our very best without driving ourselves crazy?

  • Trust your creative instincts. If you have created something really good, stick with it!
  • Rely on others for feedback early on in a project. Don’t spend hours trying to get it right on your own. Ask your team for constructive criticism, make what changes you think are important, and then move on.
  • Give yourself permission to hit send or save, even if there are tiny flaws. Every time we submit a project, it gives us the opportunity to reflect on our work and improve on the next one.