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Fighting against perfectionism


#1

i am testing a new method for efficient working. based on the idea of the pareto principle


i developed a work - time - unit for which i set a timer. if a task in hand would empirically need 100 minutes to finish it perfectly, i set a timer for twenty minutes to finish it tolerably. the time pressure forces me to find new ways of doing things and to avoid perfectionism. the next step is, to divide the remaining work into new work-time-units, based on the pareto principle. this also changes my way of doing things and my perception of old ideas, what it means to finish something. new hierarchies of what is most important and what is not begin to restructure my old mindset.


(Michael Hrenka) #2

This is generally a good idea, except in the cases that results really need to be nearly perfect in order to avoid really high penalties, which might exceed the gains from adopting the Pareto principle.

Imagine surgeons operated on the Pareto principle: Ok, we can get 80% of the operation done in 20% of the time, great. Now we can treat 5 times as many patients… most of which will likely die from complications due to incomplete operation procedures. :confounded:


#3

yes, you are right, many tasks have to be done nearly 100% and you can´t drop 20%. but my method has not primarily the goal of time saving nor less quality work, it aimes at my motivation and the change of my thinking. if pareto was right with his oberservation, then even an operation would apply to it, but only the perfectionist could be blocked by it. if any given task could be considered 100% done, you will always find differences when humans performed it and not machines.
perfectionism is good, but not perfect :grin: because it lacks efficiency and the motivation to start and to finish any work. the pareto - observation leads to important insights: every work has two parts: a rough main part and a sophisticated special part. i could split up those and view the sophisticated special part ( that is most time consuming) as a new task, where as well the pareto-principle applies to. with that (kind of fractal-) perspective, no work is ever finished but has different levels of perfection. if a perfectionist wants to start with something and has four or five levels of perfection in mind it could block the whole project from ever being realized. thoughts like “if i could not start perfectly, the whole thing is doomed”, “i shouldn´t even begin, if i don´t have enough free time for it.” or “starting without the perfect right tools and plans is a waste of time and energy” , " i will inevitably fail, if i begin the thing in a wrong way" drain energy and motivation and kill ideas.
unfortunately, many things that turned into practice are not accomplishments of perfectionists but of those who are capable to view their idea as perfect enough and are able to declare something finished ( the work of those shaped our world! :sob:). and that is the second big insight: because nothing could ever be finished perfectly, one has to declare it finished!
and my new method helps me, to declare a work - when the rough main part is done - first level finished. and although many work needs the second-level-finish or even a third, ( for which i set the timer again) this way of thinking is much more motivation to start, than my thinking before.


(Michael Hrenka) #4

That is a very interesting approach. A problem that I see with that is that it might become hard to keep all the different parts of the project in mind. This “Pareto-slicing” creates some minor overhead, which may actually become another drain for motivation.