Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Perfection vs. Procrastination: What's the Difference?
At Zova, we have worked with hundreds of people in different positions, in different industries. Projects and deliverables are often completed on time without issue. Occasionally though, projects are dragged on unnecessarily, and the driving words behind these delays are always, "It has to be perfect."
Zova believes in quality over quantity, but what is the difference between wanting perfection and simply procrastinating? The truth is, there is no difference.
Perfection is an opinion. It is not quantifiable nor a goal that can be accomplished. Every single project can always be improved. There is always something that could have been done better; however, pushing out an imperfect release is more important than spending crazy hours trying to tweak insignificant things based solely on your arbitrary view of what good is.
At Zova, the most common aspects of a campaign that get hung up in "perfection mode" are graphical creative (especially for on-screen actors), copy, and video edits.
Sometimes, the vision of perfection is the roadblock to completing a campaign. We've found that "perfection" is used as a scapegoat to mask the underlying issues of disorganization, lack of confidence in the project, or some other issue that organizers or business executives don't want to admit.
Though the primary causes of procrastination involve the underlying issues described above, this article is about combating procrastination and how to become more creative. This is critical especially in careers where you must constantly be creative, such as writing, graphic design, marketing, or music.
The first step of combating procrastination?
Get rid of the concept of "Perfect"
We covered that pretty well already, so we'll move on to the next thing.
I schedule EVERYTHING. Sometimes my entire day is scheduled down to the minute. That may seem a little excessive, and it is, but it keeps me from wandering and getting lost in my day. What's important is having a consistent schedule, with the beginning and the end of your day being as similar as possible. I recently read an article about trashing the "24-hour" schedule concept and adopting a "168-hour” schedule (weekly schedule.) I haven't explored this too much, but the premise of the article is that people become unmotivated to stay on schedule if they can't cram everything in 24 hours. I agree with this. That's why setting realistic expectations of your day is important. Be introspective. I know that it's more difficult for me to wake up the day after I write a lot. Why? I don't know, and I don't care. What's important is that I'm aware of my habits and behaviors, and I am able to account for them in my schedule.
I always include buffers and set alarms. When I don't get something done, it’s because I only scheduled one hour for the task when I really needed two. So, I work two hours on task one and end up skipping task two. What I've found effective is setting alarms for times to move on to the next thing, much like how school schedules work.Back in school, your teacher couldn’t hold you too long in class, or it would stop you from going to the next class. I think it's important to move on, reevaluate all the things that couldn't get done, and plan for the next day. The one exception to this would be if you're in a "flow state;" if you're in a great flow state and seem unstoppable, then do not stop. Flow states are difficult to get into, and once you're in, it's important to not lose momentum.
Another issue that many people run into when creating tight schedules is skipping buffers, breaks, and other necessities like meals and personal hygiene. Schedule these tasks realistically. After working hard for an hour, I need at least a 15-minute break, or my brain will melt and stop working. That will make the rest of the day useless. Many people try to hammer through without breaks and wonder why they didn't get much done. The brain has limits, and you have to work within them for effective creativity.
I also include buffers in my time management. I know I will get distracted, will wander off, will get lost in my own head at times.I account for all of these occurrences in my schedule. I also know that I need to eat, I need to sleep, I need to prepare my meals, I need a walk midday. This is all important to account for and schedule! Many people will take a fifteen-minute lunch break but forget that it will take an extra fifteen minutes to prepare their lunch. It is important to think everything through and account for all your time. That will help you create an accurate schedule and will reduce that rushy feeling we all get when the end of the day is approaching, and our task list is still full.
One of the most common phrases I hear from my friends and colleagues is "I don't have time." That is complete crap. If there is something you really want to do, you need to make time for it. Not having time is an excuse. Saying, "I don't have time" is really saying, "It's not a priority to me." If it's not a priority to you, just say that. You're going to spend more time repeating "I don't have time" over and over again to the same person by not saying how it really is. And if you want to go get coffee or have that business meeting, make time for it! If Gary Vee can make time for all the things he is passionate about, so can you.
Another strategy I implement to control my time more effectively is taking control of my meetings with people. We all go to meetings that take way too long. Sometimes, meetings end up five times longer than they should be, but there is a way to combat this. I learned this method from one of my good friends and business gurus Patrick Bradley, CRO of Tixr. Whenever he starts a meeting with someone, he makes them aware of his time constraint by saying, in effect, "Hey, I have until 3:30 until I've got to jump off the call. Just to let you know we've got about twenty-five minutes to talk about what we need to talk about." As the meeting progresses, Patrick gives time updates. He'll say, "We've got about ten minutes left before I have to get to my next meeting, so I just want to make sure we talk about everything important before then." Does this ever come across as too direct? No. It shows that he's giving his complete attention to you, and he wants to make sure everything that needs to be talked about is. That feels very respectful in a meeting. When the scheduled ending time of the meeting comes, Patrick says he has to go, and then he does. Very straightforward. I have implemented this strategy, and it works wonders on cutting down unnecessary time with people in meetings.
Part of the reason why Patrick's meeting strategy is so effective is because during meetings with him, you've got 100% of his attention. He is not multitasking. It's always apparent when someone is not really paying attention in a meeting, and Patrick is always paying attention. This same concept applies to any task you're trying to accomplish. Many studies have been done on multitasking, and most show that it actually hurts your ability to get things done quickly and accurately almost every time. The moral of this paragraph is: do one thing at a time, and don't multitask!
Marketers have a unique issue when it comes to time management, especially if they're a social media manager. Social media is very distracting, and it's very easy for social media managers to get caught in the endless cycles of content on their feeds when trying to execute on a client's account. The only advice I have is to monitor your social media time. Phones (and some internet browser extensions) can track the amount of time you're spending on different sites and apps. Take a look at that report every week, and plan accordingly!
Project Management and Organization
At Zova, we use a project management tool called Asana, which keeps our team and our projects organized. Tasks are not forgotten; there is increased communication and increased accountability. Asana is not the only project management tool available though. There are hundreds of different project management tools with different pros and cons. Asana just happens to be one of the cheapest options that has everything we need, so that's the one that we use.
In addition to using project management tools to organize tasks, it's also important to keep your email tidy. Having over one hundred emails in your inbox is bad. A very simple tool I use in my email is creating folders. I create a folder for every client and multiple folders for big topics in Zova such as Google, Facebook, Banking, and Finances. Once I am completely done with an email (at least when I think I am), I file it away in its correct folder. It keeps my inbox tidy and organizes my emails if I happen to need them later. You should never delete emails, especially for work. They are a way to hold people to their word (via emails), they create accountability, and for legal purposes, you may actually have to dig into your email to find information. Not to mention you'll need to have a duplicate conversation with whoever you need information from, if you deleted their email.
Keeping your emails and your files tidy is important. At Zova, we utilize Google Drive for this. I admit that Google Drive is a little messy and can be a pain in the ass to organize, unless you put a ton of thought into it. We have found a great way to make it work, which I won't get into here. The point is, have some sort of file organization method. Just like emails, I try to never delete files; you might need them later. Storing them in a cloud-based system is great for accessing on multiple devices and for sharing. Whenever using cloud-based storage or computing, you must have higher levels of security. Please, don't set passwords that are easy (yes, your pet's name and the street you live on is an easy password to hack), always implement two-factor authentication, and be very selective in who you share files and folders with.
These are just a few of the ways I combat procrastination and keep myself creative. I only wrote about half of the topics I bring up in the Marketing Tip Tea Time at 2:22 episode below. You know what that means...THERE WILL BE A PART 2! Watch the episode below to get the full spiel, or wait until next week for Part 2.