Something I’ve always struggled with in my work is making the time to go back and fix the rough spots. Sometimes out of circumstance—limited time and resources—but mostly out of a lack of patience and discipline.
When you start a new project, there’s this optimism-high you get; mistakes of days passed be damned, this is going to be your masterpiece. Of course, as soon as we get past the New Project Honeymoon, reality sets in. There’s more to do than you thought. You’re under pressure to deliver. You willfully cut corners just to get something out the door, knowing full well what you’re producing is far from your best work.
This all boils down to lacking discipline. The discipline to revisit work. To factor in time for fixing mistakes. To push back when an over-eager colleague or client tries to force you to “go faster.” On the flip side, it’s also having the discipline to avoid starting new projects with existing ones left unfinished or in shambles.
The curious part all of this is that developing this discipline—as far as I’ve experienced—isn’t something you can turn on at will. It takes time, experience, and skill to know when restraint is required and more so, how to justify that restraint to yourself and others. With deliberate practice, though, it’s possible. Discipline develops almost on an exponential curve. Eventually, you find that being disciplined and focused is actually fun. The high you get from going back and tying up loose ends far exceeds the more familiar new project high.
Don’t be afraid to take your time. Put that new thing on hold while you give some TLC to something that already exists. Cultivate the discipline to do things right—no matter how many tries it takes—before adding more to your plate. There’s something intoxicating about seeing an idea through to its absolute logical conclusion.