finish, ship, be done! done is better than perfect

Done is Better than Perfect

Done is better than perfect is about finishing work and pushing it out the door. It’s about not waiting until every conceivable flaw has been corrected. Not getting stuck. Finishing. The phrase became a mantra in Facebook’s “hacker culture,” described here in Mark Zuckerberg’s letter to potential investors: 

Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once. To support this, we have built a testing framework that at any given time can try out thousands of versions of Facebook. We have the words “Done is better than perfect” painted on our walls to remind ourselves to always keep shipping. 

Is Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird” done or perfect? We lean toward perfect. But most Beatles recordings (there are around 300) are simply done. Yet their combined effect was a fantastically creative body of work. In the early years, the group found its sound by performing in clubs relentlessly. When they were in song-writing mode, John Lennon and McCartney would schedule a series of days. Paul would drive to John’s house and they’d get to work, “We always wrote a song a day, whatever happened we always wrote a song a day,” he said. “We never had a dry day.” 

Had the Beatles performed only their perfect work perfectly, we’d have never heard of them. As you create projects and campaigns to improve the world, don’t shoot for perfect: go for the done. Will any of your work be perfect? Probably not. Anne Lamott calls perfectionism “the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people.” Not surprisingly, if we’re doing little because we’re waiting for it to be perfect, our results will be nothing. People usually plug away for years before accomplishing anything big. 

Here is the “Cult of the Done Manifesto,” created by entrepreneur Bre Pettis and author Kio Stark, who gave themselves twenty minutes to write it: 

Podcast: Done is Better than Perfect

This podcast episode from “The Futur with Chris Do” discusses  perfectionism, Participants share their experiences with it and how to overcome it by focusing on the process and learning from failures.



The following was created by Bre Pettis and Kio Stark, who gave themselves 20 minutes to write it:

1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action, and completion.

2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.

3. There is no editing stage.

4. Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.

5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.

6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.

7. Once you’re done you can throw it away.

8. Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.

9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.

10. Failure counts as done. So, do mistakes.

11. Destruction is a variant of done.

12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.

13. Done is the engine of more.


Seth Godin calls on us to fight the resistance by “shipping,” putting our work out into the world and pushing the send button. Do it often, even if it’s not perfect. Have a deadline and meet it.