The Downside of Perfectionism

What is the best way to overcome procrastination and perfectionism and actually get stuff done?

Photo by Jonathan Hoxmark on Unsplash

I see procrastination and perfectionism as related but slightly different challenges.

I’ll share a few thoughts on perfectionism.

A recent podcast by David Kadavy caught my interest. I think the episode was called Just Ship It. Here’s the gist.

Kadavy uses the term “art” in a general sense for anything you create that is original work.

That might be art like a painting or sculpture. Or, it could be content writing, financial analysis, a website design, code, or a physical product.

Just Ship It

Just Ship It is similar to the MVP concept (minimum viable product) but not exactly the same.

With an MVP, you know the thing is a work in progress and you’ll either iterate or dump it based on the feedback.

In the Just Ship It mentality, the thing is done and you’re moving on to the next thing.

Let’s say you’re an artist and just finished a painting and you sold it. Are you going to go back and put a few strokes of burnt umber on it a month later and call it version 2.0?


That’s how Just Ship It is different from MVP.

Kadavy’s premise is that it takes a large body of work to produce the masterpieces. But, you don’t get to the masterpieces by working on a single piece for thousands of hours.

Now, I know there are exceptions. I just thought of a story by Malcolm Gladwell where he chronicled how long Leonard Cohen’s song, Hallelujah took to finish (years). I’m going to ignore that for the time being.

There are always exceptions.

Let’s talk about examples that support the Just Ship It mentality.

From Kadavy’s podcast:

“It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close the gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.” ~Ira Glass (host of This American Life)

“The odds of producing an influential or successful idea are a positive function of the total number of ideas generated.” ~Dean Simonton (UC-Davis professor and author of several books on creativity and genius)

Shakespeare published 38 plays and 154 sonnets. How many can you name?

Bach produced 3 great pieces but he wrote over 1,000.

Picasso, it’s estimated that he produced over 50,000 works of art (paintings, sculptures, ceramics, drawings, etc). Obviously, not all of these are masterpieces.

How does this apply to you and the work you create?

You may not call it art — but we’re all creating something.

The thing we create has some aspect of originality — a little piece of us.

The more you create — the better you become at your craft.

So — as you’re setting your priorities and striving to be as productive as possible — consider if you’re getting too OCD on the details, perhaps you need to Just Ship It.

Keep cranking out your work — don’t slow down — never give up!


The Downside of Perfectionism was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Publication date: 
03/10/2019 - 00:28

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