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Time Management Worst Practice: Perfectionism and Gold-Plating

Perfectionism is the practice of continuing to work on a project or task well past the point where the extra effort is adding meaningful value.

Perfectionism is a worst practice because it steals your time and energy working on things that don’t give you a good return on your investments; time and energy that you could have spent doing more valuable things.

For example, preparing a presentation can vary from a simple bullet list to a very fancy PowerPoint presentation with all sorts of backgrounds, fonts, colorful graphics, and animation effects. You could spend hours adding and then mercilessly editing all this fancy fluff to what could have been a simple presentation.

Is the time spent doing this worth it? It may be worth it if it’s a client presentation where millions are at stake, but what about a small presentation for a group of co‑workers?

Just because it’s possible to add all these fancy things to the presentation and spend a lot of time trying to get it just right doesn’t mean that you should. It all depends on whether they really add value or are just an excuse to avoid doing something more important.

The easiest way to avoid falling into the trap of perfectionism is to catch yourself when you are starting to do it, realize what you are doing, and stop.

This is easier to do when you have a clear understanding of what it is you are trying to accomplish, and you have established completion criteria for your projects and tasks so you can easily tell when you should be done.

The best practices of prioritizing, Five Power Questions, and Workload Management provide more information on how you can overcome perfectionism and gold-plating.


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