Friday, January 9, 2015

Done and [Hopefully] Tasteful

It’s better done than perfect.

This is a concept I struggle with constantly.

I don’t consider myself a perfectionist. The word “perfectionist” carries a negative tone. I picture a stressed out student working hard to get As for the semester. The only moment of respite comes after grades are posted before Christmas break. “That’s great! Now I’ve got to think about my grades for next semester.”

Oh, wait. I was that student.

But I didn’t get perfect grades in all my classes. There was always a class that I got an A- in or, God forbid, a B. It’s not a 4.0, but I am proud of my GPA.

I remember many late nights of studying, working on projects, and writing papers—nothing out of the ordinary. But I also remember when I spent extra time putting the “finishing touches” on a project or paper.

My habits paid off for the projects I spent extra time on. But it also led to neglected work for other classes and a lack of sleep.

And I’m still in this cycle.

I want to be a better writer. I want to be a better web developer. But I keep bogging myself down with never-ending tweaks to my projects.

Even now, I find myself trying to edit while I write. Yes, editing is important, but I lose my flow of thought and my pace slows down significantly. If I’m not producing in a timely manner, I fall into a rut.

I recently watched an inspiring video in which Ira Glass, a public radio icon, describes the gap between our personal taste and the quality of our own work.



My favorite line from the video is: “The most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.”

It’s not complicated. Everybody knows that practice makes perfect. But we hear “practice makes perfect” so much in our culture that it carries very little meaning. Mr. Glass is simply reminding us what that phrase is supposed to mean.

So I wrote this blog post.

Because I need to get things done. Because I’m tired of personal roadblocks. Because I want to build better habits.

I’m not going to settle for “good enough.” Instead, my goal is to settle for tasteful enough. My taste will let me know that my work is not perfect. That’s okay—it means I recognize the ways I want to improve. It’s my responsibility to take this knowledge and apply it to my future projects.

After all, a piece of work is better done and tasteful than incomplete and imperfect.