Perfect is the enemy of done

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This is the 12th in a series of posts on Agile Marketing – the working definition of which is to “Create, communicate and deliver unique value to an always-changing consumer (or business) in an always-changing market with an always-changing product.”

“When in doubt, punt rather than wait”

Change is a fact of life, and especially in Agile marketing. Getting used to that change and the pace of change allows you to practice continuous improvement (or continuous pivoting) to match product and market needs.

Perfect is the enemy of done – one of the tenets of the Cult of Done is a great way to think about your role as an Agile marketer within a big or a small company. You can always find more work, and you will be measured on both how well you get things done, and by how many things you can do. So if you try to get more things done faster, you’ll at the very least have more chances to do those things well?

So, how can I put this into practice?

What are some of the ways that you can get more done and declare things done rather than perfect? This is not a comprehensive list, but rather a grab-bag of things you can do today to get started.

Here are a few ideas borrowed from many disciplines:

  • get much better at guarding your time – You can “time-box” your work by declaring a unit of time that you’ll devote to the task and try to get as much out of it as possible. Then, at the end of the time period, be done. If it’s a collaborative project, make sure that you share with your co-workers a few sentences (like 3) on what you did, where you need help, and what you think is next (and by when do you need their work completed.) Jason Womack’s blog and book Your Best Just Got Better is only one of a number of resources that can help you manage your time (especially if you remember that you only get 96 blocks of 15 minutes of time in a day, and you ought to be using 28-32 of those for sleep.)
  • make all of your meetings go away or get shorter – whenever anyone asks you for a meeting, set the minimum time possible for the meeting (try 20-30 minutes, and see how you do.) It can help to identify pre-work so that your meeting time can be maximized
  • get smarter at things you do a lot – get better (maniacally so) at mass customizing the things that you do that take a lot of time if done otherwise. Learn how to write a 3 sentence email; batch your email; take better notes using Evernote; and be present so that the time you spend on your tasks is worthwhile. If at all possible, don’t multitask (yes, it feels near-impossible some days). If you must do a lot of small tasks, try to lump them together into a batch
  • take some time offthis is essential – and whether time off to you means spending time with your kids or significant other, taking a walk in the middle of the day, working out, or whatever counts for you – make sure you do some of that every day and every week. It’s far too easy to burn out and time is short – so enjoy it more.
  • do good for other people – talk to people inside your discipline and outside, and make some time every day to help someone (just because.) Whether you call it “Customer Wow” or just doing a favor for a friend in need, it’s good for your brain, will open you to new ideas, and will help you make more connections – which will help you get more done faster.

How do you know when you’re done?

It may seem like a paradox, but you’re both immediately done and … never done. So get started today and make sure the things you are doing get done faster. Write them down and take some time every so often to reflect on what you did. And keep pushing.

One Step Forward

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It’s easy to think that the next thing you’re doing might not be the right thing. It could be the wrong thing. It could be a sideways thing. But taking a step forward gets you somewhere.

One step forward gives you the ability to look back and see if your assumptions were wrong.

One step forward gives you a bit of new perspective.

One step forward allows you to go before you are ready.

One step forward demonstrates who will follow you.

One step forward promotes leadership, even if it’s in the wrong direction.

One step forward removes the possibility that you will do nothing.

One step forward might mean you’re about to take two steps back.

One step forward opens the ability to do a new thing. A really new thing.

So what are you waiting for? Take one step forward.

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