Tips for keeping perfection in check

CriticismsFrom time to time we all get stuck in the endless loop of searching for perfection in our work. Most of us have been there, finalizing every detail, reworking the numbers again and again, and adding that little bit of flair that goes a long way during boring presentations, only to hand in our work a few days late.

In reality, perfect does not equal effective, especially in today’s modern workplace. In a business where middle managers and junior partners are going to revise and edit your project no matter how perfect it is you’ll more than likely face some criticism.

Instead of searching for immediate perfection try to look at your task as “starting the project”. Once you have started the project the rest of the work team will be providing feedback on the project, allowing you to renew your efforts and incorporate any changes that need to be made. Use criticism as a learning experience and the entire process will lead you down a path towards success. Sometimes “good enough” is good enough.

Tips for keeping perfection in check:

Complete the assignment before making improvements!

Spend time completing the assignment to the best of your ability before looking to make improvements. Perfecting the first half of your project isn’t going to mean much if you run out of time before completing the second half. The Pareto Principle says that eighty percent of the effort you put forth should come from twenty percent of the project. Don’t spend long hours perfecting parts of a project that never truly needed improvement in the first place. Plan your project, finish the project, and then improve it if you have the time. Working in that order will allow you the ability to improve while still having a completed assignment to hand in at the end of the day.

From financial statements to flowcharts, every project can be improved upon in some manner. There will always be someone who thinks that a different font would make it easier to read, or some people who prefer images without borders, but the truth is that these are not important aspects of your presentation. Most people in the meeting are not going to care what your font size is, or how you set up your spreadsheet, however, they will care if you do not finish your assignment on time.


Criticism is Reality:

No matter what you produce there will be someone who just isn’t going to like it. Why beat yourself up over the inevitable? A successful employee is on who is able to accept criticism and use it has a learning experience. Reaching for perfection on every project and assignment is a waste of everyone’s time and kind of delusional.

Striving for perfection in the workplace is an admirable goal, but not one that is entirely realistic. Even the most studious workers will find themselves being given suggestions for improvement by supervisors. Employees who put out best possible work can still find room for improvement. Successful employees are the ones that can use this criticism as a learning opportunity. When supervisors provide feedback they are telling you what they would like to see. So, next time you hand in an assignment make sure you mention how you incorporated their feedback into the new assignment.


It’s important not to burn yourself out trying to be the perfect employee. Often times the quest for perfection leads employees down a negative path where they start to adapt a “Why bother?” attitude. Just because an assignment cannot be completed perfectly does not mean that you shouldn’t give it your absolute best. Furthermore, employees that ask themselves, “Why am I doing this? Nobody appreciates it anyway.” Need to evaluate their professional priorities (a topic we will touch upon at a later date).

Time management is an essential tool for avoiding employee burnout. Employees who set deadlines and goals, and stick to them, feel a sense of accomplishment even when completing smaller tasks. However, time management is only one tool available to today’s modern employee. Applications and software like; Google Calendar, Pomodoro, and, can help eliminate the stress of having to organize workplace tasks. Don’t try to remember every detail of half a dozen tasks at the same time. Instead, thing smarter, not harder!

There’s nothing wrong with striving for perfection. Employees who continue to push themselves and work harder will find success in the workplace, but in order to prevent burnout it’s important to not just work hard, but to be smart enough to know how to work smarter and allow yourself room for both error and improvement.