Last week I was preparing for a big meeting that I thought would take an hour to prep for. I looked up after three hours, and I was maybe halfway done. If I’m honest, this happens a lot more than I’d like—with presentations, app features, research, decisions and, heck, even writing important emails. The rational side of me knows there are only so many hours in the day, but the perfectionistic side says there’s always room for improvement.
Here’s what I’ve learned: When something is good enough to move on, MOVE ON. Here are six ways to do that.
1. Find the point of diminishing return.
Craig Groeschel talks about the GETMO principle: Good Enough to Move On. It says there’s a point of diminishing return with all work. Just because you spend 3x more time on it, that doesn’t make it 3x better. If you can identify that point, you’ll save yourself from focusing on details that don’t have a big impact.
Ask yourself: “If I spend X more time on this, will it make it more than X times better?”
2. Align with your stakeholders on what “good enough” means.
Here’s the thing: “Good enough” is subjective. Your definition could be drastically different from your stakeholders’. That’s why it’s critical to align early on what good enough looks like. I’ve found that if you can agree on the work’s purpose and the outcome you want to get, that gives you enough alignment to make wise decisions.
Ask yourself: “Are my stakeholders and I aligned on the outcome we’re expecting and why we’re doing this work?”
3. Time block your calendar—and hold yourself to it.
A leader taught me to spend the first 30 minutes of every day setting my top three priorities for the day and blocking every hour on my calendar to reflect those priorities. It’s like a budget for your time—and just like budgeting money, it only works if you stick to it. So, if I block an hour to groom the backlog, I get one hour. If I need more time, I have to spend less time on something else. Every hour is spent on purpose. Bonus: At any point, you’ll be able to audit your calendar to know exactly how you’ve spent your time.
Ask yourself: “Have I written down how much time I expect to spend on this?”
4. Don’t work in isolation.
Making time to do deep, focused, heads-down work is important, and I think we need to make more time to do that. But it’s also important to not work alone for too long. Often, we get sucked into details that matter to us but don’t actually create value in the long run. Another person can help you refocus on what’s most important. Push yourself to bring someone else in—a peer, a leader, a customer—earlier than you feel comfortable.
Ask yourself: “When was the last time someone else saw what I’m working on?”
5. Reflect on why it’s really taking longer than expected.
Sometimes things take longer because you’ve never done them before, and you didn’t know what to expect. If that’s the case, learn and adjust your expectations for the future. But if you’re like me, most of the time that’s not what really happens. I often spend too much time on something because 1) I’m seeking someone’s approval, 2) I’m afraid of looking like an idiot, and/or 3) I’m avoiding the next thing I need to work on. All those reasons (ahem excuses) are rooted in fear and need to be called out.
Ask yourself: “What’s the REAL reason this is taking longer than I estimated?”
6. When in doubt, freaking SHIP IT.
If you’ve received feedback from your leader that you need to spend more time or more attention on something, do that. But for many people, it is much more likely that perfectionism creeps in rather than recklessness. Remember that even if something doesn’t meet your standard of excellence, you’ll still learn more by putting it out there and getting feedback rather than letting it sit on your desktop for a few more days. Challenge yourself to ship before you’re ready. Shipping is a muscle. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
Ask yourself: “What would it hurt if I shipped this right now?”
Perfectionism is the enemy of progress and, honestly, an exhausting way to live. Have the courage to ship your work when it’s good enough to move on and you’ll be surprised at how much lighter you feel and how much more you’re able to accomplish.