When Good Enough Is Good Enough

When you mop the floor you don’t mop it to perfection. You can’t see the bacteria, but it’s still there. Lots of it. You could invest more time and resources into getting it sterile, at least for awhile, but would it be worth it? Why bother?

Good enough is good enough, for most things. You have no choice anyway. You don’t have time to make everything perfect. And perfection doesn’t actually exist in this world anyway.

So yes, it’s okay to do the bare minimum in most cases. Another way to think about it is in terms of a “minimum effect dose“. What’s the minimum amount you need to do to get the result you need? Anything more than that may do you no good, and might even do you harm. Extra effort and extra resources may get you a little further, but how far do you need to go, and is it worth it?

Fitness is a good example: you’ll make a lot of gains in the beginning of a workout program, but the more fit you become the more effort it will take to get more fit. And if you take it too far, you’ll actually start to regress. As Robert Sapolsky stated in his book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, “everything in physiology follows the rule that too much can be as bad as too little”.

This doesn’t apply to everything, of course. But it’s a useful way to think for most thing. Especially when we’re feeling overwhelmed with responsibility.