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A Guide to Managing Time

6. Implementation: Perfect, Perfect Perfection

One of the most obvious ways of getting more done in less time is to do things quicker. Many things can limit the speed with which we work, but perhaps one of the most damaging, and yet at the same time one of the most difficult to deal with, is our desire to produce a perfect result. (Well, if not a 'perfect' result then a result that satisfies us, no matter how long that may take.)

It may be difficult to accept that sometimes we should settle for a little less polishing so that we can move on to achieve other things.

When is a job ‘done’? When is it time to stop and move on to something else?

There is a little of the perfectionist in nearly all of us. We like to impress people. Much of our job satisfaction comes from delivering work that we are proud of. We probably hate turning in things that we had to rush and which were only as good as time allowed.

And sometimes it matters. There are times when only the best is good enough. But how do we decide and how do we balance the quality of our work against the quantity of it.

A Venetian economist Vilfredo Pareto gave us Pareto’s Law, otherwise known as the 80-20 Rule, which says that 80% of the result is usually achieved by 20% of the effort. We spend 80% of the effort achieving the last 20% of the result.

In fact a scientist would probably draw a different graph demonstrating that the curve eventually flattens and stretches to infinity – we NEVER can achieve perfection in this world.

A design engineer would probably deal with this by thinking in terms of ‘fit for purpose’. Once something can do the job for which it is intended then it is good enough.

Perfection is a state of mind that is best dealt with by maintaining a constant state of awareness. Keep asking yourself:

• Is it fit for purpose? Will it do the job? Does it look ‘pretty’ enough? Will it last?

• Will I be judged by it? What do people expect? What is the traditional standard around here? Is that a sensible level to maintain or is it wasting resources?

• Am I just procrastinating? Is this an excuse not to move on to the real work? Am I just being vain in trying to impress people with it?

• Is there a quicker way to an acceptable result? Can I automate part of this or use existing elements?

• If I wasn’t spending so much time on this right now what would I / should I be doing?

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The Problem with Time

1. The Vision Thing: Creating an Overview
Doing the right thing

2. Priorities: First Things First
What needs to be done and what comes first

3. Working the Plan:
Making time for the important things

4. Delegation:
Getting more done through others

5. Procrastination:
Think positive and do it now!

> 6. Perfect, Perfect, Perfection:
Quantity versus quality - Knowing when to move on

7. Putting Time Management to Work:
So much for the theory, now for the practice