Productivity Tip: ‘Iterate Toward Perfection,’ But Forget Perfection Exists

Matt Might, whose account of having a disabled child I mentioned previously, also has an interesting post on productivity tips for academics.

The advice can be applied to people working in many professions, though, not just academia.

I really like this bit:

Iterate toward perfection

Treat perfection like a process, not an achievable state. Perfectionism is crippling to productivity. I’ve known academics that can’t even start projects because of perfectionism. I know some academics that defend their lack of productivity by proudly proclaiming themselves to be perfectionists. I’m not so sure one should be proud of perfectionism. I don’t think it’s bad to want perfection; I just think it’s unrealistic to expect it.

The metric academics need to hit is “good enough,” and after that, “better than good enough,” if time permits. Forget that the word perfect exists. Otherwise, one can sink endless amounts of time into a project long after the scientific mission was accomplished. One good-enough paper that got submitted is worth an infinite number of perfect papers that don’t exist.

Yes.

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