You always want to strive to do the best work that you can. No matter what it is that you’re doing, do it to the best of your ability. These are good concepts to live by, but often times they can be misinterpreted.
Phrases like “to the best of your ability” and “the best work that you can” don’t mean that what you’re doing has to be perfect, but rather as good as you can get it. If you’re allowing perfectionism to pull you off track, it can seriously halt your progress and have some rather adverse effects on you.
Perfectionism is essentially a state of mind in which you start to pick out every small flaw in your work, stemming from a desire for the project to be perfect. This is an entirely unrealistic goal, and the more time you spend trying to get it to be perfect, the worse it’s going to get.
The greatest masterpieces in the world have their flaws, and there is not one thing that is perfect. By striving for something unattainable, you could work for years to try to get something exactly right, and still be unsatisfied with it.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put any effort into it, but give it your best shot without going overboard. If it takes a few days, that’s fine, but once it starts to get into a few months of work with no progress, you’re going overboard.
While there is the danger of you wasting too much time chasing after perfection, there’s also the negative mental aspects. If you’re consistently dissatisfied with your work, you’re going to end up feeling pretty bad about yourself.
You might think you’re bad at your job or that you’re not putting in enough work, and it’ll only be detrimental to you. Instead of second guessing yourself and wasting time, produce something that’s satisfactory to your standards and be proud of that alone.
There’s no reason that you should overexert yourself just because you think something’s good, but it could be a tiny bit better. At some point, even if you were to reach a point very close to perfection, it would come with what’s known as diminishing returns.
If it takes you five hours to produce something that your client is happy with, but it takes you years to produce something that’s slightly better, but close to perfect, then the difference is negligible. You will have spent far more time doing it, making that work not worth doing in the first place.