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Little Miss Perfect Is Not Saving Time, by Nancy Clark

Nancy Clark from
March 1, 2010

(Listen to it here.)

I like to include the latest research whenever I can so you’ll feel confident when you buck conventional wisdom. However, perfection is tough to measure. If you want the truth, you only have to ask yourself, “Am I guilty of thinking my work is not good enough because it’s not perfect?” Whenever you answer “yes,” I want to you put time above perfection on your priority list and take another look.

Sometimes that 2-page report is sufficient for the task and that 76-page rendition you could deliver would set you back in three ways.

1.  The first is that you would be using up time that could be put a high visibility or a high return item, such as acquiring a new client for your company.

2.  The second setback—which happens all too often to women—is that your company will assign this task to you permanently since they know no one else would want to do the next 76-pager.

3.   And the third setback is that higher up execs will think, “She’s one of those Busy-Work Women.” That certainly creates an image, and it’s not the image you should be striving for.

Are you going to have a problem letting go of perfection? I bet quite a few of you are. If so, do not under any circumstances, present a report with a disclaimer, such as, “I just didn’t have enough time to do a good job.” Chances are it was good enough. Chances are other employees would not have done a better job. Chances are after hearing your disclaimer, everyone will be looking for evidence of a lousy report. And what you look for, you usually find.


Don’t give anyone a reason to label you as a Busy-Work Woman. Keep your attention on the other side of the coin: You are an Important-Work Woman who cares about time, strategy, and moving ahead with new business ideas.

Next time you’re assigned a task that sets your Perfection Worry Center on alert, stop, take a breath, and start the Perfection Cancellation Process. Here it is:

Talk to your boss soon after the task has been assigned. Remind him, or her, of your other higher priority tasks and make it known that you’ll do a good job, but won’t sacrifice these other tasks because of a time crunch. See if he agrees. I bet he will and you’ll be off the self-imposed Perfection Hook.



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