Is 'Done is Better Than Perfect' Actually Helpful?

Ah yes, the reductive binary statement. This quote comes up a lot. In fact, when I typed it into Google I got over one billion search results. Do people really live by this? Well, yes and no.

I'm not a fan of "inspirational" quotes. They are almost always reductive, often asinine, and rarely helpful. I'm not having a dig at people who actually do find quotes helpful, I'm just offering my view on the quotes themselves. Case in point: "done is better than perfect". If I am really thinking about the project that I'm doing, I don't need a mantra to tell me when to stop.

But, if I was to be honest with myself — and take off my pretentious hat for a minute — I'd realize that I too am guilty of not finishing a project because it's not perfect, or of not starting something because I don't have the correct tools — at least, what I perceive to be the correct tools. For example: I wanted to make a short movie but I didn't have a gimbal or a slider. Because of this, I couldn't get the exact type of shot that I had envisioned, so I kept procrastinating. Why did I need a gimbal? "Because it won't look professional", I said to myself. Bear in mind that this is a personal project that I'm talking about, not a paid commercial gig. I eventually got my act together and just started shooting anyway because I knew that I wasn't learning anything by sitting at my computer, pining over a $700 gimbal. Another obvious solution was to just think of a completely different concept and work within my limitations. "Do something. It doesn't have to be perfect." Maybe I should print this quote out and stick it to my coffee cup.

In a typically well edited and well written video, Jamie Windsor breaks down "done is better than perfect" to show his viewers that while it's not a mantra which someone should religiously live by, in certain circumstances, finishing a project before it's at its best, can be of great benefit to the creator.   

  

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10 Comments

Michael Holst's picture

I think statements like these aren't supposed to be taken as factual truth but more something to consider when at a crossroads. They inspire decision. In the case of "Done is better than perfect", it can help the artist decide whether or not their project is done or if they are producing a quality that is in line with realistic expectations. The reductiveness only helps to simplify the message enough that it can apply to nearly anything but isn't supposed to be literal.

I also like it because the inspirational part might nudge someone who is procrastinating and/or hesitating because they lack some desired tool or skill, into just doing it anyways. Limitations are fuel for creative problem solving.

Leigh Miller's picture

Meh...some things require "done" and others deserve more...

16mm Camera's picture

So just curious did Peter INVENT done is better than perfect? If he did than I guess it would be his to be wrong or right. Pretty sure that’s a long standing quote right? So why is it Peters because he is simply one who uses it?

I’m not trying to be obtuse here, the video was good and I agree with his thesis, but what does Peter have to do with being right or wrong here?

Michael Holst's picture

Maybe it's more is he wrong in is his level of attachment to the saying than about it being his advise to spread.

michaeljin's picture

The quote's been around for a while longer than Peter... usually in a different form like "Perfect is the enemy of Good", though.

Dylan Schaiterer's picture

"Art is never finished, only abandoned" - Leonardo da Vinci

Ivan Lantsov's picture

get tattoo let me know!

Peter is a successful YouTuber but I wouldn't listen to him for photography. Another photographer who has a more serious YT channel and whom I listen to for photography was criticizing those youtubers who put out fake personas, but are totally different in person, and the two examples were Peter and Jared Polin. I'd rather see skill and tutorials than all those fake motivation speeches with definitive quotes that can never apply to everything and everyone anyway.

David Pavlich's picture

On the 'inspirational quotes' thing, I agree, except when they poke fun at inspirational quotes:

"A rolling stone....will give you a heckuva' bruise."
"One good turn.....and you get all the covers."
"Where there's a will.....there's a relative."

Marcus Joyce's picture

I'm going to be that guy.

"Done is better than perfect" is easy now that you have your own video editor to take the burden of you.

But I think there's a grain of truth behind this for certain people. If you can't finish something because you are trying to do too much as an individual then done is better than perfect.

But perfect framing, audio, lighting, makeup, stage, set, background etc is useless without a story.

If you have a great story and can convey it through bad framing, grainy video and decent audio you will probably have an audience start to build.

In that regard perfect or not, no story=nothing