When attention to detail becomes an obsession

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I want to start today’s post with a quote I have found very useful lately.

‘Don’t let perfection become procrastination.’

Danielle LaPorte

A natural part of getting more and more skilled at a craft or art form is that you become better at spotting the ‘mistakes’. Your eye gets trained in seeing the parts where you can improve and you have the skills to do so as well, which is great.

But – because there is a big BUT here – sometimes wanting to make something perfect can work against you. Attention to detail can become an obsession.

There is an invisible line between giving attention to detail and obsessing about perfection.

Attention to detail is good, it’s what

  • differentiates you from the next craftsman
  • defines quality in design & craftsmanship
  • makes or brakes a sale

Because there can be quite a lot at stake when it come to attention to detail, it’s quite hard to tell the difference. But perfection is not going to serve you if you are trying to make a living from your skill.

perfect&finishedObsessing about perfection will only take you a long time, that you most probably can’t charge for, and the majority of your customers will not be able to tell the difference, because they don’t have your level of skill. So, choose wisely when you should obsess about details to the point of perfection.

Remember: your customers don’t know how you envisioned the finished piece, to them it’s perfect as it is.


How to catch yourself obsessing

So, where is the line, then?

Usually obsessing comes when we get insecure about our own skills or the job description. When we don’t have clear guide lines for when a job is finished. My advice is to create certainty for yourself.

You can do that by:

  • asking someone else’s opinion
  • reviewing the job description (if it’s your own brief, maybe you need to clarify it in more detail)
  • seeing your work in context
  • deciding what it will take to finish the piece, and stick to it

Someone wise once told me: “If you are in doubt, you are not.


Inspiration to get you started

As a little bonus tip on making things happen I want to introduce you to Danielle LaPorte’s amazing ‘Credo for making it happen‘ video, where the quote above is from. It’s great for watching, or listening to just before you need to get to work, and it puts you in just the right context. (I get goosebumps every time I listen to it)

If you prefer to download & listen, here’s the Soundcloud:


Now I want to hear from you. Tell me in the comments below if you have ever caught yourself obsessing with details and what did you do to get the job finished?