After years of contemplation and questioning, I decided to start a YouTube channel - this one, last month. I planned to upload videos regularly on this channel, talking about things that I have learned, interesting concepts and productivity stuff.
But you can see that it took me almost a month to publish my second video - you can find it at the end of the article. In trying to understand why it is taking me so long to come up with a video, I realized something very important. I understood why I was procrastinating. This was a revealing thing because all this while when I thought I was being productive, all I was doing was procrastinating trying to be perfect.
Before I started podcasting, I used to do freelance web development and while doing so, I have realised on multiple occasions that although I completed most of my work before time, I would end up spending a lot of time fiddling about with the design, trying to get the perfect fonts, the right colours and pixel-perfect arrangement of elements on the page.
When I started with podcasting, after the first few episodes I was not happy with the audio and invested on buying equipment to make it sound better. We had hardly 10 monthly downloads at that point, mostly my friends, colleagues and a couple of family members. But I was trying to perfect every aspect of the sound and would spend considerable time on the right eq settings for the voice output.
Now coming to YouTube, after I published the previous video, I got some great feedback, some of them regarding the setup. I decided to work on a small home studio setup and get better lighting to make the video look more “compelling”. Along with this, I started thinking of new b-roll ideas which I could include in my videos. I tried perfecting the script over and over again. Writing, editing, deleting for days which now have turned into weeks.
All the while I was trying to convince myself that every edit, every day I spent correcting the light and setting up the frame. With the addition of each light and element, I felt that I was making progress towards my next video.
But to be honest, I was procrastinating in a way that made me feel that I am doing something. This is a bit dangerous until you realise that all that effort in trying to make your video or your content look better, you aren’t producing anything.
In my mind, I was convincing myself that I am doing this to make sure that my video looks good and are aesthetically pleasing to the viewer. But what good is the look of a video if it is not out there for people to see. And with time, the inertia to publish grows exponentially. Not recording yourself for a few weeks makes you feel like you are a beginner again. Makes it difficult for you to start again.
For this video, I decided to just go for it. Create with what I have and say what I needed to say. If this has happened to you, you might have realised that you end up spending a lot of time trying to bring a 75% work up to 100% perfect work. This results mostly by comparing yourself to someone who is a much higher level than you are.
If you create videos, you look at the other popular YouTubers who have these excellent channels with awesome lighting and think to yourself that if you make a video without making it look as good, it wouldn’t even be worth it. We believe that in matching up to their standards, you can control other people’s perception about your work, but in reality, your content matters much more than your video quality.
One prime example of this is Gary Vaynerchuk. You might have seen his video and might be worshipping him for his content. But most of the times he just uses his phone to create most of his video while on an Uber ride. Does that take away from his message? No.
Sean McCabe, who is this amazing guy I’ve learnt a lot from, says that done is always better than perfect. He says that while striving for 100% ensures that you improve yourself, you should publish when you feel like you are 90% done. 100% is a target that is not achievable. Be willing to put out imperfect work accepting that it is not your best. The truth is, that your 90% might be 100% for most people.
Continuous output of less than perfect work closes the gap between where we are and what we perceive to be 100% perfect. We need to stop letting our perfectionism come in between our work.
While you create what you feel is your imperfect work, in the beginning, you can share it with your close circle and take feedback and improve before you publish. When I published my last video I got feedback regarding the lighting, the background and also the framing. I have tried to improve most of them in this video.
When I publish this video, I will end up getting more feedback which will help me decide the next level for my video. This is how I can make sure that I am closing the gap towards perfection. Perfection cannot be achieved, but you can move closer to your vision of perfection. Life then becomes a continuous process of improvement.
So if you are thinking of starting a podcast, video channel or photography, start with what you have and be willing to put out those imperfect episodes, videos or photos and learn new techniques as you go. That is the only way to improve. Like building muscle, you got to put in the reps. If you are training for a marathon, you don’t run the entire distance right from the beginning. You start by running maybe 5km or evening 1km or 500m This is called Adaptive Perfectionism. You improve as you go.