The 85% Rule, Applied Twice

One of the things many people, including me, suffer from is spending too much time polishing their work to make it perfect.

Crafting our work to a high-quality threshold is non-negotiable. This is what distinguishes people who put serious effort into their craft from those who produce for the sake of producing.

But, like everything else, too much of something is often bad. After certain rounds of polishing, we enter a loop of diminishing returns.

Sure, one more round of polishing, bug-bashing, or retouching might technically improve the product, but the changes are too insignificant to be noticed by anyone other than the author.

The quality improvement, in return, is not worth the time invested.

When we take this route, we get stuck in an inaction loop we've come to call perfectionism. We fear releasing our work into the wild, thinking it's imperfect. Thinking it needs more refinement.

I'll let you in on a secret:

Our work will never be perfect. They will never be finished. There will always be that one thing, that one last change you could've made to make your work a tiny bit better.

A good alternative way of looking at this problem is what many people call an 85% rule.

Work on your tasks until they reach 85% of your desired quality level.

A piece of work, be it an article, painting, fine food or anything else, that's at 85% of a high-quality bar is already premium.

But if you're a bit paranoid like me and think there's still room for improvement, you could take this a step further by applying the 85% rule one more time.

Just once more. No more than that.

I often use this approach with my writing.

After writing the draft of any blog post, newsletter, or book, I do a few rounds of editing and proofreading to fix the obvious mistakes, restructure sentences and paragraphs to make more sense, and make the entire piece read well.

Then, once I'm done editing and polishing my piece, I run it through an automated grammar and typo check using Grammarly.

Grammarly finds and fixes spelling mistakes that I might've missed. It also suggests further sentence tweaks to make them clearer and make my writing more compact and readable.

At this stage, the piece is already 85% of the high-quality bar I've set at Hulry. But it's not finished yet.

There's still one final review left — another round of improving the quality of my work to 85% of the ideal state.

I review the entire piece one last time to find sentences that could be refined further and fix punctuations or typos that had evaded Grammarly's sights.

I don't usually make substantial changes to the piece at this step, but I do make tiny changes that make the piece sing.

The piece is still not perfect, but it's pretty close.

You can take this framework and apply it to any of your work. Be it at the office, your hobbies or any part-time gig.

Aim for two rounds of polishing your work — no more, no less.

You take your crude produce to 85% of your desired quality in the first round.

Then you step back, let it simmer for a while, come back to it with a fresh mind and refine it further until you're again 85% there.

With these two rounds, you'll not only curb procrastination caused by perfectionism but also produce remarkable work.

Try it.

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