This is a great strategy to beat perfectionism, especially when it’s become paralysing and you’re just not getting round to doing the things you need to do. Often we don’t complete tasks because we’ve made the task in hand far too complicated or difficult. We decide what we’d ideally like this thing to look like (our website, our blog, our social media schedule, our email marketing, our brochure etc) and then we put making it like that on our ‘to do’ list.
A common problem however, is that there’s too big a gap between what is easily doable right now and what you’d ideally like this thing to look like. So the task just looks and feels too daunting, and it keeps getting postponed or pushed back, or carried over on our list, and the thought of tackling it fills us with dread. It just doesn’t get done, and you don’t put anything out there.
As we know, something put out there can yield SOME benefit, but nothing put out there yields NO benefit. So get something out there and start reaping some benefits from it now, and then you can gradually improve it over time and keep gradually increasing the benefits you get from it. This is infinitely preferable to holding back until you can produce the ‘perfect’ thing and never actually getting round to doing it because it feels too hard, and reaping zero benefit from it in the interim. We all know that ‘done is better than perfect‘.
So how can we apply this to tasks we’re finding hard to tackle/finish? Create plans for TWO DIFFERENT VERSIONS of this thing:
1) A ‘for now’ version, and
2) An ‘ideal’ version
THE ‘FOR NOW’ VERSION
This version has to be totally doable right now, and should ideally only consist of things that are already in place, or things you’re already doing inconsistently, and you’re just formalising them into something more consistent. For example, creating a regular schedule for social media posts, using only the type of posts you already create on a more ‘ad hoc’ basis… Or formalising random emails you send to your mailing list into a regular feature… Or deciding you’re going to blog a shoot every fortnight rather than just when you remember.
If you don’t already have anything in place for the thing in question and are starting from scratch, only choose things that are easily and relatively quickly created. Think of it as a ‘bare bones’ version – what is the bare minimum that this could be, that would get this thing complete and ‘out there’ pretty quickly, even if it’s not exactly how you’d ideally like it to be? For example, a simple one-page website created in Adobe Spark, or a simple one-page brochure created and hosted in Google Docs.
This ‘for now’ version should NOT include anything that you need to do any kind of training to learn how to do it, nor should it involve any complicated tech set-up, and it should ideally be something you can pull together in a relatively short amount of time. It’s totally fine for it to be a bit rough and ready – it’s still better than nothing at all. It should not feel daunting or unclear to you. Don’t give yourself things to trip up over and don’t overcomplicate things. Keep this SIMPLE.
THE ‘IDEAL’ VERSION
This version is the ‘gold standard’ version that you’re going to try to work towards over time, where you flesh out the bare bones of your ‘for now’ version. This can include things you’re not yet doing, things you’ve never tried before, platforms you don’t currently have set up, things you need to do some training to learn how to use / complete / create. This can look exactly as you ideally want it to look – write a list of all the elements you’d ideally like this to have, even if some of this feels totally out of reach to you right now.
This is often the only version that most people aim for, but because it feels so scary, it doesn’t get attempted. Bridging the gap between now and this ‘ideal’ version with a ‘for now’ version means you’re so much more likely to get there.
WHAT TO DO
1) Sketch out brief plans for both your ‘for now’ version and your ‘ideal’ version. Don’t get too caught up in this and don’t spend too long on it – just an hour or so – just a bulleted list of key elements / tasks you plan to include will be fine.
2) Implement your ‘for now’ version – you should be able to do this relatively quickly and easily, ideally within a day or at absolute most, a week.
3) Add into your calendar or planning system a reminder to review this on a regular basis (perhaps once a month). You should not add anything in until you feel that the last version is totally embedded and comfortable to you. Each month, ask yourself, do you feel able to add something new to this? If so, pull one thing from your ‘ideal’ version and add it into your working version. Repeat each month. This way, you will gradually drip feed things from your ‘ideal’ version into your ‘for now’ version, according to capacity. Keep doing this until the ‘ideal’ version finally becomes fully implemented.
4) Each month, also review your ‘ideal’ version. You might find that you actually change your ‘ideal’ version over time anyway – sometimes what seemed like a great idea 3 months ago no longer feels like the right thing to do, or you might have learned about something new in the interim that you also want to add in. This is another benefit of gradually building systems piecemeal like this because it allows you to review it as you build it, rather than running yourself into the ground implementing something massive that you end up wanting to change a short time later.
WHAT THIS PROCESS COULD LOOK LIKE FOR YOU
Using the examples above, this could perhaps look like the following examples:
SOCIAL MEDIA – Committing to posting on Instagram twice a week now with posts just like the ones you’ve already been creating , but gradually working towards in 3 months’ time posting every day with a mix of different types of posts that will engage more with your ideal clients
BLOGGING – Committing to blogging shoots once a fortnight now, but gradually working towards in 4 months’ time blogging once a week and including more informative blog posts as well as past shoots
WEBSITE – Setting up a one-page website in Adobe Spark right now, but gradually building on this to create a 10 page WordPress website within the next 6 months
BROCHURE – Creating and hosting a simple two page brochure in Google Docs, but gradually building on this to create a more detailed and visually appealing 8 page brochure using Canva or InDesign within the next 3 months
EMAIL MARKETING – Committing to emailing your mailing list once a month with a simple, short regular feature, but gradually working towards in 5 months’ time emailing once a week with a variety of different types of useful content
The above examples are just that – you could be working with totally different criteria and timeframes, and that’s totally fine – it must suit you and what you’re personally familiar and comfortable with and what you enjoy.
TO SUM UP
The principle is just to avoid overcomplicating things by setting the bar too high right now. Start simple now, and gradually work towards your ‘ideal’ version, whatever that looks like for you, gradually and at a pace that doesn’t totally freak you out and paralyse you, filling in the gaps as and when you’re ready and have the capacity. You’re much more likely to get there. Better to gradually improve and finish something over a period of 6 months, getting some benefit from it throughout that whole timeframe, than to still be looking at it completely un-actioned on your ‘to do’ list in 6 months’ time.
Which scary and as-yet-unactioned task are you going to tackle first? What ‘for now’ version are you going to put out there this week?
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