Have you ever been trapped in a seemingly never-ending cycle of tasks that lead to more tasks, leaving you spending hours on something completely unrelated to your original goal? If so, you’ve likely fallen into the frustrating trap of “shaving the yak.”
Writer Seth Godin coined the term “shaving the yak” to describe the frustrating experience of getting sidetracked by a series of tasks necessary to complete a larger goal. It stems from the hypothetical scenario in which you plan to wash your car, but you end up needing to shave a yak because you get sidetracked from the original goal. To wash the car, you need to fix the hose and to fix the hose, and you need to go to the store, and so on, until you’re so far removed from the original task that you forget what you were doing in the first place.
How To Avoid
So, how can you avoid the “shaving the yak” trap? The first step is to recognize when it’s happening. If you spend more time on a task than you intended or get distracted by something unrelated, take a step back, reflect, then ask yourself if the task is necessary to achieve your primary goal. If it’s not, then refocus on what really matters.
Another way to avoid “shaving the yak” is to prioritize your tasks and focus on the most important ones. Set a deadline and avoid other tasks that will cause you to miss. Make a list of everything you need to do to achieve your goal, and rank each task in order of importance. Focus on the tasks that will have the most significant impact on your plan first and leave the less important tasks for later. This will help you stay on track and avoid getting sidetracked by unnecessary tasks.
Ask For Help
Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask for help. If you can delegate a task to someone else so you can focus on the original goal, then do it. Also, “shaving the yak” sometimes happens because we lack the knowledge, skills, or resources to complete a task efficiently. Reach out to an expert so you do not waste hours trying to figure something out when you can ask for help. Collaborating with others can help you accomplish your goals more quickly and efficiently.
Falling into the trap of “shaving the yak” can be a frustrating and time-consuming experience that can derail even the most well-planned goals. By staying aware of the phenomenon, prioritizing your tasks, and asking for help when necessary, you can avoid getting sidetracked and focus on what matters. So, don’t shave that yak – stay focused on your goals and achieve them with purpose and efficiency.
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.
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