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80% Rules on Everything


Achieving perfection is a challenging task. In terms of creation, there is no clear-cut definition of what perfection is, making it difficult to determine whether it has been achieved or not. The point at which perfection is attained seems never-ending, and one may feel like they have never truly reached it. Therefore, while building something, it is essential to accept it in its rough state. I have come to adopt the “80% rule” in myself, where I believe that accepting something that is 80% complete is better than striving for perfection that may never be attained.

Pursuing perfection can have negative impacts on individuals, teams, and organizations, often resulting in burnout [1] . I frequently employed the “80% rule” in individual tasks as well as in the operations of my team.

Instead of seeking perfection, I prioritize completing individual tasks. As Meta (Facebook at the time) famously said:

Done is better than perfect.

I focus on completing the work first, then communicating and refining it.

I have a personal rule when it comes to my focus level. I aim to keep it at around 80% rather than 100%. This is because if I try to maintain 100% focus all the time, I eventually get burnt out. Instead, I liken it to running a marathon - if I want to go far, I need to set a sustainable pace and keep moving forward.

This same rule can be applied to a team environment. For example, team members could be encouraged to work on other projects or learn new skills during their spare time. Meetings could be shortened to improve productivity, and individuals could be encouraged to aim for 80% focus in order to achieve better performance.

Here is my favorite saying from Saint-Exupery:

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

It makes sense that subtracting something is limited while adding something is infinite.

I'd be happy to have ☕!