Yak Shaving

I was listening to a devops podcast the other day and the phrase ‘yak shaving’ came up. Yak shaving is whenever you are asked to complete a task, but in order to do that task you decide you need do another task, and that second task has even more tasks that you need to do. Before you know it you have spent all your time doing all these extra tasks but not completed the original task. Instead of completing the original task you may have shaved a yak.

  • You’re asked to make breakfast
  • Everything is going well, but you see there is no milk in the fridge for the coffee
  • You decide to go to the shop to buy milk but it’s not open yet. The farm shop is open, so you go there
  • The farmer gets you the milk, but you realise you’ve left your wallet at home. He says you can pay him by helping out with a chore on the farm
  • He asks you to shave a yak. So you help out with that
  • The farmer then gives you the milk and you go home, but everyone has already gone to work/school hungry
  • You didn’t complete the original task because you were busy shaving a yak. You’re sleeping on the couch tonight.