When 70% is good enough

I once got 103% in a test.
It was in third form Latin.
A project assigned over the Easter Holidays on Roman Gods made up 15% of the total mark and I got 18/15 for that because - remembering it now - the Latin teacher himself may not even heard of the Greek Gods that were excavated from the depths of our local library to go into that double scrapbook project.
After that, 100% felt like a sort-of failure.
Good, but not really good.
I was and am, a complete perfectionist.
In some ways, it has served me really well.
I like to produce very high quality work.
I like to decorate my house with things that are ‘just right’ and take time to find exactly what it is I’m looking for.
In other ways it has not.
Do it right or don’t do it at all.’
‘Go big or go home.’
These are maxims that really speak to me.
And they are lies.
They very often result in me doing nothing at all, procrastinating on something until such times as it can be produced with 103% perfection.
What if it could be better?
What if there’s another option I haven’t considered?
What if it’s not perfect?
These sentences are a time waster and a productivity killer.
Sometimes 70% is good enough.
Freeing myself up to do 70% work in the last few years has allowed me to really ramp up my output.
It snaps me out of indecision and into action.
You can get to 70% if you just start now and work for an hour. Just start.
It is such a relief, and work - be it at my desk or around the house - is so much more fun.
Recently, I did a clear out of a lot of clothes. My brain wanted to wait for a window of a full day ‘free’ to do this. Really do it right, like. I set my timer for 90 minutes and went at it. Guess what? 90 minutes was enough.
Is there possibly a rogue too small dress still hanging in my wardrobe? A shirt without buttons on the cuff?
You can bet on it.
But my cupboard is so much more a pleasure to get dressed from than it was before. And it took 90 MINUTES, not a whole day.
Listen, I know that a lot of the work you produce needs to be completely watertight and yes, perfect or as close to it as possible - factually accurate and legally compliant. Reports, letters, client deliverables - this work should be and needs to be perfect, that’s your job. I’m not suggesting you lower this standard. You are doing this job exactly because of your attention to detail and your ability to work at that high a standard and with that level of attention to detail.
But the rest of it? 70% is great and significantly higher than what you are at in waiting until you are perfectly positioned to knock out 103%
Know where 70% is good enough and where striving for 103% is actually having you do NOTHING at all.
Maybe you love the idea of giving your team a 'middle of busy season' pep talk and some real time feedback but you don't have time to schedule all of this. Have them meet you for 15 minutes at the coffee machine and tell them how much you appreciate their commitment, what's been going great and tell them where you think you can all step things up. I know you'd love to do that in a meeting room with the whole team, 2 hours blocked off and a slide deck to go through. It's not necessary to bring over the message. 70% work.
Maybe you would love to plan out meals for the week so you don't end up skidding into Spar to pick up chicken fillets on the way home from work again because there's nothing in the fridge for dinner? Plan out just 2 meals you can make in a pot this week and make enough for leftovers. 70% work.
Watch your productivity soar, my Friend!
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