Enough Already!


Article by Grace DurfeeDo you sometimes have trouble knowing when it’s quitting time? Do you fall into the “I’ll just do one more thing” trap? Or do you tend to think that if you spend a little more time or give it one more pass, the final outcome will be better? I know I can be guilty of all of the above. I’m not advocating doing a slipshod job, but I do want to make a case for knowing when good enough is just that — good enough!

Most people are surprised to learn that I minored in Economics, actually International Economics, back in my college days at William and Mary. There’s not much from those courses that apply to my current work, but there are two economic concepts that I think really relate here: diminishing returns and opportunity costs.

With diminishing returns, there comes a point when additional effort doesn’t yield further benefit and can, in fact, begin to erode the results already achieved. I confess that I probably reach a point of diminishing returns each month when I write my newsletter. During my first or second read-through, I catch most of the typos and grammatical errors and may decide to tweak an awkward or lengthy sentence. The polishing and refining beyond that likely doesn’t make much difference to my readers, but it does start to wear me down. I am working on being able to say, “Enough already!” so that I can press “send” before the end of the working day on the last day of the month. Now that I’ve shared this, I’ve created accountability for myself, which can be a way of catching oneself before perfectionism gives way to diminishing returns.

  • How can you recognize when enough is enough?
  • What do you tend to go overboard on?
  • How can you reel yourself in?

Opportunity costs are the opportunities that you miss or give up because of making a different choice. Time, attention, and money are resources that can be invested into only one thing at a time. (Many of us have bought into the myth of multi-tasking, thinking that we can effectively splinter time and attention into multiple areas. In actuality, our attention flits back and forth between things. Since we have to constantly re-focus, this can be much less productive than sticking to one thing at a time). What wasn’t chosen is the opportunity cost. Too often, our opportunity costs are what we place a high priority on in our lives. Over the short term, it’s possible to neglect some of these, but when this becomes a pattern, imbalance and dissatisfaction results.

  • What are your top five priorities?
  • Thinking back over the past two weeks, how have your choices aligned with your
    priorities?
  • How can you stop giving short shrift to that which is most important?

May you find a better balance by being mindful of what’s most important, and recognizing when it’s enough already.

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