Avoiding Yak Shaving

What is Yak Shaving?

One of my focus areas for the new year (though definitely not a “resolution” in the classic sense) was to develop a new website focused on Life/Work design. There are multiple challenges to focus including being distracted by shiny objects and a passion for yak shaving. What, you might ask, is YAK shaving?

I experienced a bit of both during the midst of the pandemic when Apple finally released a new iMac with faster processors and a much improved camera for the proliferation of Microsoft Teams meetings and Zoom calls. The computer arrived and even though I had some important work scheduled, I couldn’t keep myself from starting to set it up.

I’d set up enough new computers in my life to know better, but I thought to myself how much better it would be to type my daily on that beautiful new screen rather than on a ratty old laptop. After all, it’s a Mac–how hard can it be? All I really need was one little keyboard extension cable and all that upgraded goodness could be mine!

Hours later. Multiple trips to two Best Buy stores–curb side pickup; face mask, hand sanitizer. I’m typing this on the ratty old laptop–surrounded by Yak hair. Seth Godin explained Yak Shaving in his blog in 2005:.

Yak Shaving is the last step of a series of steps that occurs when you find something you need to do. “I want to wax the car today.”

“Oops, the hose is still broken from the winter. I’ll need to buy a new one at Home Depot.”

“But Home Depot is on the other side of the Tappan Zee bridge and getting there without my EZPass is miserable because of the tolls.”

“But, wait! I could borrow my neighbor’s EZPass…”

“Bob won’t lend me his EZPass until I return the mooshi pillow my son borrowed, though.

“And we haven’t returned it because some of the stuffing fell out and we need to get some yak hair to restuff it.”

And the next thing you know, you’re at the zoo, shaving a yak, all so you can wax your car.

So, what to do?

Don’t go to Home Depot for the hose.

The minute you start walking down a path toward a yak shaving party, it’s worth making a compromise. Doing it well now is much better than doing it perfectly later.


The only way to win the Yak shaving game is not to play.


Seth’s Blog https://seths.blog/2005/03/dont_shave_that

Merlin Mann on Yak Shaving http://www.43folders.com/2004/09/29/mental-dialogues-yak-shaving-the-triumph-of-the-mini-review

Wictionary on Yak Shaving https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Talk:yak_shaving#Etymology

Joi Ito on Yak Shaving https://joi.ito.com/weblog/2005/03/05/yak-shaving.html#trackbacks

[Original Link](http://projects.csail.mit.edu/gsb/old-archive/gsb-archive/gsb2000-02-11)

Photo Credit: Alexandr frolov, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons