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What Can Software Developers Teach us About Crushing the ‘Perfection Bug’?

What Can Software Developers Teach us About Crushing the ‘Perfection Bug’?

    Imagine this: Your desk is full of paper and it’s all related to unfinished work. Also, your task list never seems to shrink – instead, it’s growing bigger and bigger.

    Even if you work hard on your tasks, you have this nagging feeling of incompletion in your head. You also feel that it is impossible to meet your inner critic; you are never satisfied to your results.

    You are frustrated and burnt out. And even if that’s not enough, you start to procrastinate on your tasks.

    You only wish that you could leave the office at 5PM and spend time with your family. And then you look at the piles of paper on your desk.

    It is going to be yet another night spent working.

    There is no finish line in sight

    Unfortunately, this image is way too common in offices around the world. Most people are overwhelmed by the amount of unfinished work they have.

    There are really four reasons why this is happening:

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    First, it’s because the amount of distractions. They don’t have a chance to work in a focused manner and their work performance slows down.

    Secondly, it is because working on too many things (tasks, projects, etc.) at once. When they work like this, they are unable to get anything properly completed.

    Third, they don’t have an organized way of handling the workload; they have issues with prioritization and they don’t know what tasks to focus on next. This in turn may be caused by a non-existent day planning.

    Now, even if those three previous conditions are met, there is still one thing that causes people to procrastinate and be overwhelmed: It’s the unfinished work and the fact that they are never 100% percent satisfied to the quality of their work.

    When they are unsatisfied to their work quality, they keep tweaking and tweaking the results but they are unable to finish anything. This is a sure way to overwhelm their selves and generate unnecessary stress.

    It is also a sure way to make other people angry – especially if their performance is dependent on the person who is never capable of finishing his/her part of the task/project.

    If it’s not perfect, it is not ready!

    Inability to let go of tasks and never finishing them are symptoms of perfectionism.

    The fact is that you are never going to satisfy your inner critic because you think that there is yet another tweak that you have to do until you can let go of the task.

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    What is causing all this?

    It’s the underlying fear that is holding you in its arms; the fear that others label you as a failure if you release something imperfect. The fear that you are letting yourself down (and not meeting your standards) if everything is not 100% perfect.

    Well, I have some news for you — perfection doesn’t exist!

    I admit that in certain circumstances (for e.g. professions) you always have to be striving for perfection, for example when you are an airline pilot or a surgeon.

    But in 90% of other cases perfection is not serving you. Instead, it is slowing you down, making you procrastinate and increasing your stress levels.

    Let’s talk Scrum

    If perfection is slowing you down, help can be found from a surprising source; from the world of agile software development and Scrum.

    “Hmm… Scrum? What is Scrum?” you are asking.

    Scrum is a software methodology that software developers use and one of its components is “Definition of Done” (DoD). It describes what a development team has to have ready by the end of the development iteration (also known as sprint).

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    When the team declares something as done, it means that the new functionality is fully tested, documented and could be even put to production.

    Even if the DoD is used in context of software development, it can be easily applied to individual productivity needs as well.

    Definition of Done describes clearly and explicitly what needs to be achieved until a task can be declared as done. And when you define your “done”, you can get rid of your perfection bug.

    What is your definition of done?

    Let’s take the concept DoD, simplify it a bit and put it into the context of personal productivity. To create your definition of done, follow these steps:

    1. Define a task you want to accomplish
    2. Explicitly describe (in written form) what requirements have to be met before it can be called ready
    3. Mark a task as checked when it’s ready
    4. When all the rows are checked, that particular task is done

    Let’s say that you are blogger, you want to define your “done” regarding a new blog post. In that case part of your DoD could look like this:

    Writing a blog post:

    • Outline a post [checked]
    • Write a post [checked]
    • Proofread the post [ ]
    • Create a compelling headline [ ]
    • Find a accompanying picture [ ]
    • Schedule the post in WordPress [ ]
    • Write an email message to your autoresponder [ ]
    • [ ]

    The previous DoD is clearly explaining what has been achieved so far and what still needs to be done.

    To make your DoD even more effective, share this with an accountability partner if you have one. This way you can make continuous checks on how you are progressing with your work and if the individual tasks have been accomplished or not.

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    If you still try to strive for 100% perfection, your partner can remind you of the agreement that you have created (your DoD). This way you are not endlessly wasting your time by making irrelevant tweaks to your tasks.

    Conclusion

    I have been guilty of striving for perfection and this bad habit has slowed me down on my projects.

    However, once I started defining my “done” (in a written form), I was able to see clearly which parts of the project were finished and which still required my attention.

    Once the item on the list is checked, it’s done and I can move to the next task or project.

    How do you handle perfection?

    (Photo credit: Program code on a monitor via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    Timo Kiander

    Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2020

    11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory

    11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory

    Whether at work or at school, people these days are under tremendous pressure to perform, perform and perform! Stress and pressure can have adverse affects on the well-being of a person, and need to be controlled.

    Now, this doesn’t mean you make a dash to your nearest therapist. There are a number of wonderful and smart apps that you can use on your phone. These brain training apps have been scientifically designed to target specific areas of the human mind and control harmful emotions such as anxiety, as well as to improve memory and sharpness of the brain.

    Here are 11 iPhone apps that you will not only enjoy but also find useful in keeping your mental health balanced at all times.

    1. Lumosity

    This app consists of games that focus on improving the user’s memory, problem-solving capability, attention span, and thinking. There are three games in each session, and they challenge the brain by changing every time. The user has to complete the games while playing against a clock.

    Free of trial. $15 per month for the full version.

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    Luminosity Mind training apps-Lifehack

      2. Fit Brains Trainer

      This brain training app has 10 sets of games that work on different areas of the brain and improve memory as well as concentration. A user is required to finish a particular task from each category on a daily basis and the app tracks the progress by a color coded graph.

      Free.

      Fit Brains Trainer Mind training apps-Lifehack

        3. CogniFit Brain Fitness

        Developed with the help of neuroscientists, this fun app improves a person’s cognitive abilities, which includes memory and concentration. The progress made by the user over a period of time can be tracked. Users can also play challenge rounds with their friends. The app also modifies the difficulty level to suit the profile of the user and provide recommendations based on the results. Spending 20–30 minutes a few times every week can give measurable improvement in the performance of a user.

        First four games free, then $13 a month.

        cognifit-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

          4. Brain Fitness Pro

          The makers of this app claim that it can improve the IQ of a user, and improve intelligence and memory. The app is fun and is user friendly, and 30 minutes a day can fetch you results in less than three weeks.

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          Buy for $3.99.

          5. Happify

          If nothing else makes you happy in life, this app will. Well, this is what the developers claim at least. This app comes loaded with lots of quizzes, polls and gratitude journals, which work on the fundamentals of positive psychology. The app also helps to control stress and emotions to make you feel better.

          Free to use.

          Happify-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

            6. Clockwork Brain

            You will like the little gold robot that comes in every time to explain the next game you are going to play. While the games are not much different to those offered in apps such as Luminosity, the look and feel reminds me of a workshop from old times.

            Free.

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            Clockwork Trsin-Mind Training Apps-Lifehack

              7. ReliefLink

              Initially created as an app for suicide prevention, it has found its use as a great app for tracking the mood of the user by taking measure of all things relevant to the user’s mental health. In case the user experiences high emotional stress, the app has a coping mechanism that includes voice-recorded mindfulness, exercises and music for relaxation. There is also a map that informs the user of the nearest therapist and medical facilities for mental health treatment.

              Relief Link - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                8. Eidetic

                Eidetic is a memory enhancement app and uses a ‘spaced repetition’ technique to help users memorize information such as important phone numbers, words, credit card details or passwords. It also notifies you when it’s time to take a test to see what you remember, so that you retain information in your long-term memory.

                Eidetic - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                  9. Braingle

                  Braingle helps to maintain the sharpness of the brain and improve the reasoning ability of a person through riddles and optical illusions. It is different from other brain training apps that employ memory and reaction based tests. You can also compete with your friends and family members in figuring out the fun riddles.

                  Free.

                  Briangle- Mind Training Apps-LIfehack

                    10. Not The Hole Story

                    If you have a penchant for solving hard riddles, then this app is a must-have for you. Filled with exclusive riddles along with a simple-to-use interface, the app gives you riddles that you have to solve through a book. You will be given hints along the way, and when you give up, the answers will be revealed. This app will encourage you to broaden your thinking and put your mind to a challenging test.

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                    Free.

                    Not the hole story - Mind Training Apps - Lifehack

                      11. Personal Zen

                      This fun brain training app follows the journey of two animated characters who travel through a field of grass. Personal Zen is a nice app meant for reducing anxiety and trains the brain to focus on the positive aspects. The developer’s advice is to use the app for 10 minutes a day to see the best results.

                      Free.

                      personal zen- mind training apps - lifehack

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                        Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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