Perfection is Pointless: Tips to Help The Creative Perfectionist

by Matt on November 9, 2008 · 5 comments

in How-To,Work and Productivity

A lot of highly creative designers have one big problem: perfectionism. Especially in design, seeking perfection is both unproductive and pointless. Why? If you spend all of your time trying to get your work exactly the way you envision it, you’re just wasting your time. For the most part, your final piece will be different from your original idea. Trying to focus on elements of your work that aren’t perfect is a bad way of working.

Here are a few tips/things to keep in mind to help you to stop your urge to be perfect:

1. Ask Other People’s Opinion

If you think your work isn’t perfect, you have to look at it in a different way. The best tactic for doing this is through other people. Go ask some other people what they think of your work. Take their advice or criticism into consideration.

2. You Don’t Know Until You Try

If you are continually putting something off because you don’t think it’s finished or perfect, just go for it. If your client isn’t satisfied, take their comments and make changes.

3. Trial and Error

You usually won’t get it right the first time, but don’t give up. Keep trying, and new ideas will come.

4. Get Inspired

If you are hesitant about a deign you are working on and you absolutely know you need to add something, then spend some time looking at other work for inspiration. You will eventually have an idea or find out what your design needs.

5. Focus on What’s Important

Instead of focusing on the tiny details that only you will notice, focus on the big picture. Think about the image your work is promoting, and ask yourself if your design expresses that image.

6. Only You Will Notice the Small Imperfections

This isn’t always true, but it sometimes may apply. Either way, it is still good to keep in mind.

7. Allow New Ideas

Sometimes, we will shut down a new idea because we think it isn’t perfect for a project. Well, just try it anyway, you may love it. If you don’t allow new ideas, you may miss out on some very big opportunities.

8. Remember Nothing is Perfect

I know that is a cliche, but it is totally true. You can achieve excellence but still not be perfect.

9. Be Positive and Optimistic

Having a positive and bright outlook will help you to overcome your urge for perfection.

10. Keep Goals

Instead of working to the design you imagined, work toward an overall goal for the job. Think of what you want to achieve, and work toward it. Don’t focus on the details too much, and be happy when you have achieved your goal. Also, setting deadlines can help with your goals.

11. If All Else Fails

If you can’t possibly get over the fact that your work isn’t completely the way you want it to be, take a break. Move on to a new project or just do something else for a little while.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

amolpatil2k November 10, 2008 at 9:41 pm

Perfection is a function of the interaction between a producer (designer) and a consumer (fan/user). We all have perfection problems both when we produce and surprisingly even when we consume because unlike animals, we are conscious of ourselves. Also there are two aspects of every thing that happens – the actual feeling (subconscious) and the symbolic feeling (conscious). For instance, something would make us sit up and take notice and then we would find that is has been created by someone we don’t like.

Sean Neill November 11, 2008 at 9:25 pm

Wonderful tips here. I have noticed that when working on a project, I get so focused on it and that after looking at it for hours, I begin to pay way too much attention to little details and pixel perfection. So, I’ve found that stepping back (like you said, looking at the bigger picture) and looking at it from someone else’s eyes is very helpful.

Once again, thanks for these tips.

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