When Good Enough Beats Perfection

by Feb 16, 2016Productivity

Do you spend hours researching something to save a few bucks?
Do you craft and recraft that perfect email to send that will just be skimmed by the reader?
Break free of perfection and embrace good enough.


I used to have some perfectionistic qualities, whether it was with training, my house or my work. With training, I would ride around my neighborhood until I got the last 30 seconds in to ensure my workout was long as was scheduled. In my house, I would remake the bed after my husband and clean all my baseboards every couple of weeks. At work, I would spend way too long perfectly formatting a spreadsheet when I was the only person that was going to be using it.

No more.

One thing I’ve learned in the last few years is when it pays to have something look like a million bucks and when it doesn’t. If my time is money, that the time I spent trying to get the best deal ended up costing me in the end. Here are four places you can start being good enough.

  1. Research. I’m a big fan of reviews, getting a good deal and making sure that whatever I buy is going to meet my needs. However, when I used the Profit Goals formula to see how much my time was worth per hour, I changed my views on what things were worth extensive research. One of my clients took weeks to make her first online grocery order because she thought her list needed to be perfect, even though when she went to the store in person, it was never perfect. She bought items not on her list and didn’t buy things that were. The timesaver of shopping online was lost due to unnecessary research. If you have a VA, give them the research. Example: Please research five Bluetooth and five over-ear headsets that work with an iPhone and a computer, are rated five stars and between $100-$300.00.
  2. Emails. It’s an email, not the Constitution. Letters are formal, emails are semi-formal and texts or chats are casual. I’m not saying to be unprofessional, but it isn’t necessary to give extraneous information, have a salutation after the first email in the thread and for it to be long. If you work as part of a team, set guidelines around your email communication, like stopping the use of okay and thanks as acknowledgements.
  3. Your house or car. If you are someone who needs every crumb picked up, every piece of clothing folded like the Gap and a whole-house cleaning every week, consider the time involved and what’s truly necessary. I used to clean my entire house every week, but a few years ago realized that our marimba room rarely gets used, so why am I cleaning it weekly? There is a difference between being sanitary and having spider webs in the corners and dog hair all over the sofa. I’m neat and I don’t like clutter. Having less clutter will always make your house/office/car feel and look cleaner. I have a Personal Assistant once a week for three hours. I give her three rooms to clean each week and she preps and chops my vegetables for me. It saves me time and money and I can have her do the veggie-chopping,an even more important task for me.
  4. Workouts. When I did triathlons, I had a very typical triathlete mentality which was to follow my highly-structured training plan, no matter what the weather, where I was, or what social outlet I was missing out on. In the last two years since I’ve retired from ultra-racing, I do much shorter workouts, have a plan for the week but change it up based on my heart rate variability every morning or the weather, and I’ve never looked or felt better.

I don’t recommend good enough with all of my clients because some will start to use it as an excuse or already do. Some are procrastinators or self-admitted lazy people who will cut corners to their detriment. Good Enough is for people who tend to get sucked into rabbit holes or feel that their rigidity hurts them in some areas of their lives. We don’t have to change everything, but pick the areas where it can just be good enough.

What do you do now that you could probably change to good enough?

IMAGE BY: Rea Donato

Your Weekender Snapshot and Tim Ferriss’s Five Bullet Friday are my favorite emails I receive.
jim west

Principal and Managing Director, GFF Architects