If you were to open a brand new jar of peanut butter and try to get all the peanut butter out of the jar, how long would it take? You can use any tools you want so long as you bear in mind that the goal is to recover the peanut butter from the jar. So washing it down the drain does not help in accomplishing that goal.
I guess how long it would take largely depends on your definition of “all the peanut butter”.
Surely, within three or four minutes you could get basically all the peanut butter out of the jar. If you looked in the jar you would still see streaks and ribbons of peanut butter all over the inside of the jar but all of it put together wouldn’t add up to enough to make a respectable PB&J.
How much longer would it take to get it so that not one visible streak of peanut butter remained?
I’ve never tried it but my guess is maybe about an hour.
So let’s say you have the patience and determination to get every last bit of peanut butter out of the jar. Did you get it all? Have you done a “perfect” job of getting the peanut butter out?
Smell the jar.
It still smells like peanut butter. That’s a sign that there are still chemical traces of peanut butter left behind.
Remember, our goal was to recover the peanut butter from the jar. Not necessarily to use it for making a sandwich or anything useful, just to recover it and get it out of the jar.
Now, if your definition of “all” the peanut butter is something like “all the peanut butter that’s useful in making sandwiches”, then you could easily do a perfect job of getting “all” the peanut butter out in three or four minutes.
If your definition is all the visible peanut butter, then you could probably do a perfect job in about an hour. Part of the point here is that you’ll start seeing diminishing returns on your effort after the first three or four minutes.
If your definition of “all” the peanut butter is every last chemical trace of the stuff, it may take considerably longer and require specialized tools or techniques. (Remember, trying to recover the peanut butter implies that we’re not contaminating it.) Again, the longer you keep at it and the closer you get to “perfect”, the more the returns on your effort diminish.
This principle can be applied to almost any area of life. When you do anything, you get about 80% or so of your results with relative ease. After that, each incremental advance you make toward 100% will increase the amount of time, effort and other resources needed to get there. And the rate of increase keeps increasing.
So the real first step toward greater productivity is to decide what perfect means to you for any given task. If you can settle for 80%-85% of “perfect”, you’ll get a lot more done.
Personally, I’d rather have 10 or 15 projects completed but only 85% perfect than to have just one project done to absolute perfection. Even if that one project is so immaculate that it makes angels weep.
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