Perfectionism wastes everyone’s time. Here’s how.

The goal should be satisfaction, not perfection—why good enough is good enough.

MELANIE KATZMAN: We often work to the point of exhaustion depleting ourselves, resources, taking up time that people don't have in the quest for this elusive perfect. The reality is that in most instances good enough is good enough. Research shows us that people who are satisfiers tend to be happier and just as effective as people who are maximizers. Maximizers are the people who are always looking for the absolute ultimate perfect solution. But it's not necessarily the best for the individuals or for the organization. I've also seen that groups will continue to work on something long beyond the point in which they're completed. Sometimes because they want it to be perfect. Other times they're just enjoying one another's company. We fall into a certain rhythm. Working on what we know is often easier than what we don't know. It takes courage to say completed. So I coach people to have the courage to say we're done. You can always recontract about the next set of goals, but scope creep is really debilitating for the individual who's delivering the work and sometimes for the person who's receiving it because they're waiting and you're taking longer in an effort to get something to a level of perfection that isn't needed.

Oftentimes in an effort to assert our value within an organization we seek to be more complicated than is necessary. The most beautiful answer is often the simplest, the clearest, the most parsimonious. But in an effort to demonstrate that we are expert, that we have knowledge, that we are in tune with the jargon we could create complex plans, flowcharts, PowerPoints that are not only exhausting to create but are exhausting for the audience to receive them. So I always encourage people to just stop for a minute and ask: am I asking the clearest, simplest question? Can other people tell you what the goal is in one sentence? If the group you're working with doesn't know where you're heading then you've got a problem. So can you put it onto one piece of paper, one sentence. That's a good sign.

People will sometimes hold back their work and refine it and refine it because they're not really sure what it is that they're meant to do. So take the time, clarify what the expectations are, don't get lost in your own thoughts, check it out with people and, if necessary, actually have a midpoint check-in and say am I on the right path. Is this the kind of information you need. Is this the quality and depth of work that is expected. And then you can make the adjustments. Don't wait until the last minute when you're right before the deadline to see whether or not it's good enough or perfect enough

  • According to business psychologist and consultant Melanie Katzman, being a maximizer, or someone who seeks and over works in pursuit of perfection, is a waste of time, energy, and resources.
  • Completion and perfection are often not synonymous, and it is possible to continue tweaking something long after it is done.
  • A desire to demonstrate expertise can overcomplicate the work and muddle the message. To avoid this pitfall, Katzman encourages clients to stop in the middle of a project and reassess.

Gamma-ray space telescope study may have spotted dark matter

New study of gamma rays and gravitational lensing points to the possible presence of dark matter.

Surprising Science
  • Analyzing data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, researchers find hints of dark matter.
  • The scientists looked to spot a correlation between gravitational lensing and gamma rays.
  • Future release of data can pinpoint whether the dark matter is really responsible for observed effects.
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4 relationship problems that can be linked back to early childhood

An inside look at common relationship problems that link to how we were raised.

Photo by OSTILL is Franck Camhi on Shutterstock
Sex & Relationships
  • Fear of abandonment or other attachment issues can stem from childhood loss (the death of a parent) but can also stem from mistreatment or emotional neglect as a child.
  • Longitudinal studies have proven that a child's inability to maintain healthy relationships may be significantly impaired by having an insecure attachment to a primary caregiver during their early development.
  • While these are common relationship problems that may be rooted in childhood experiences, as adults, we can break the cycle.
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The tech shift: Push politicians for answers, and develop your digital literacy

Tech is rising and America's middle class is vanishing. Here's what to do.

  • The rise of new technologies is making the United States more economically unequal, says Professor Ramesh Srinivasan. Americans should be pushing the current presidential candidates hard for answers on how they will bring economic security and how they will ensure that technological transitions benefit all of us.
  • "We are at an inflection point when it comes to top-down control over very many different aspects of our lives through privatized corporate power over technology," says Srinivasan. Now is the time to debate solutions like basic income and worker-owned cooperatives.
  • Concurrently, individuals should develop digital literacy and get educated on the potential solutions. Srinivasan recommends taking free online and open courses from universities like Stanford and MIT, and reading books and quality journalism on these issues.
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