Done Is Better Than Perfect and Other Lessons I’m Learning About Procrastination

UPDATED: June 8, 2023
PUBLISHED: August 2, 2022
cecilia meis on what empowerment is

At this moment, I’m on a plane to what should be a long R&R weekend in Cancun, Mexico. Instead, I’m writing this editor’s note and acknowledging, once again, my ongoing relationship with procrastination. I’d love to tell you that it wasn’t always this way. I’d love to tell you that once upon a time, I set a writing deadline and stuck with it. Instead, I’ll share my writing process, which goes something like this:

  • Get excited about the topic and dive immediately into research and interviews.
  • Imagine all the cool angles I could take—maybe even jot down a quick outline.
  • Spend the next X days/weeks doing absolutely everything except writing.
  • Stress about my lack of progress and make promises that tomorrow will be different.
  • Continue avoiding said writing.
  • Swear to myself and others that I’ve, in fact, lost the ability to write anything worth reading.
  • Write the piece right before the deadline and realize it was never as difficult of an experience as I imagined—you know, other than the sleep deprivation.
  • Tell myself I’ll never do this again.
  • Rinse and repeat.

Here’s the thing: I only procrastinate on creative projects, such as writing. When it comes to assigning articles, writing emails or any number of other tasks, I’m an award-winning doer. But putting words to a blank (digital) page? I’d rather scrub tile grout.

What I’m learning (and learning, and learning), is that creativity doesn’t strike; it flows. And it flows as a result of action and purposeful effort. Inspiration isn’t a random act, but the result of dedicated time and intention toward your creative work. Perfection is your greatest enemy. It’s admirable to set quality standards, but when it keeps you from completing the task at hand, it’s doing more harm than good.

In this, the creativity issue, we look at creative processes from across a variety of industries. How are art installations changing who interacts with art and in what way? (page 66) What does the seemingly endless stream of blockbuster prequels and sequels say about creativity in entertainment? (page 20) How does cover figure Jay Shetty grapple with the intensely modern notion of a personal brand while staying true to his mission of healing and wisdom and inner peace? (page 42) What is it about human connection that breathes new life into our creative practices? (page 82) How can we honor culture and heritage in an increasingly digital world? (page 36)

I hope this issue brings you fresh ideas you can take to your creative process. I hope it helps you give yourself grace and patience and understanding when you’re struggling in your practice. I hope you take the time to spend time doing things that bring you joy, even when there isn’t a commercial element. I hope that you remember not to get lost in the idea of perfect because done always wins out.

Thoughts on the new issue or anything you see inside it? Reach me by contacting [email protected].

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2022 Issue of SUCCESS magazine.