Customer Service, On Writing

“Good Enough” gets you going

As I’m now in a hybrid marketing/customer support/product support/all hands on deck position, I think a lot about the best way to spend my time (at work, and at home).  Inevitably, the thinking goes like this:  “I don’t have enough time, so where should I direct my energy so that it can do the most good in the time that I have?”  The best answer I’ve found lately is “Good Enough.”

“Good Enough” means doing the best job you can in the time that you have available.  If you think about this it makes sense and follows a Pareto distribution: roughly 20% of your effort produces 80% of the output.  But output alone isn’t meaningful if the output you produce means a lot to you and not to the other people in your life who matter.  I try to make lists to be able to churn through my tasks as efficiently as possible.

“Good Enough” also means a bias for action, so that thinking about the best way to do a task is trumped by the low cost experiment of trying that task, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and then refining and trying it again.  It’s probably a stretch to call this Agile Marketing, but perhaps there’s something to be learned here. Your customers will tell you what’s important, whether they are internal, external, or in your own family.

Finally, “Good Enough” means not beating yourself up for the tasks you’re not able to get done if you get other valuable work done.  If the tasks you needed to get done are trumped by their high-sugar equivalents, maybe you need to procrastinate for a while to get it out of your system.  I used to think that writing, like many other tasks, required contemplation, endless revision, and inspiration.  Now I think that writing requires all of those things, but perhaps not at the same time as when the writing occurs.  “Good enough” allows me to get going when I’m not sure of what I’m doing, and encourages me to get to a point where I can make the words not just talk, but sing.

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