I was knitting something a few days ago when I noticed I had made a mistake in the pattern a few rows back. I was faced with the decision of do I unravel and fix it, or do I go on?
This occurred mid-way through the project, and I was able to look at the mistake both in the context of the finished work as well as the (eventual) finished product. So it was a matter of evaluating based on what was already done, as well as what was coming.
Ultimately, I decided that it really didn’t affect the product as a whole, and it was good enough.
It occurred to me that this is an important concept in productivity: the concept of GOOD ENOUGH.
So how can you tell if something is good enough? It’s going to vary from person to person, but here are my criteria:
What Is The Purpose Of What You Are Trying To Do?
The first place I look is at the overall purpose of what I am trying to do. Creating a fitted garment is different than creating a scarf. If I use the wrong size needles on a sweater, the garment will be too big or small. This is not a problem with a scarf.
Let’s face it: not everything we undertake is of the same consequence. Missing a step on a project to clean out the filing cabinet is not the same as missing a step in open-heart surgery.
Is Additional Effort Worth It?
I have told my beginning crochet students as they start to rip out stitches: It’s just a dishcloth. No one will care if it’s not exactly square.
Sometimes the mistake simply doesn’t matter to anyone. I may have only researched five solutions instead of ten, but will the added information really add any value? Maybe, maybe not. But if not, I would be foolish to waste my time on it.
Will It Cause More Problems?
In some cases, my deviation might actually change the final outcome in a way that is not acceptable. For instance, if I drop a stitch, I need to go back and fix it or I will have an unsightly ladder in the final work. On the other hand, if the variation isn’t visible and won’t cause future problems do I really need to go back and fix it just so it is “perfect”?
It’s a matter of essentials.
Sometimes messing up won’t cause long term problems. I missed mowing a patch of grass on the side of the backyard once. No problem; I got most of the grass, and we got the missed patch the next time.
However, a friend experienced consequences of a missed essential when he started off in his car after a state inspection and oil change, only to find a block away that they had forgot to fill the oil back up.
I want to wrap this up with a fact about Navajo rugs. Each authentic Navajo rug is woven with a flaw in it. Some say it is to allow the spirit of the weaver to escape from the bindings of fiber; others say it is there to remind us that we are not perfect. Either way, we can take a lesson from this.
Photo by johl