Shaving a Yak

There are times through the year when certain phrases become more appropriate and I find myself using them more than usual.
I am in a phase of finishing off all kinds of projects, some started many, many years ago and others are new projects that contribute to the overall goal of ‘tidying up’.
At the moment ‘shaving a yak’ is the phrase that I have popping up in my head more than once a day.
I first heard it when listening to the audio version of Karen Kingstons book ‘ Clear your clutter with Feng Shui’

‘Yak shaving’ was said to have been coined by programmer Carlin Vieri and then made famous by the blogger Seth Godin. It’s defined as ‘Any series of tasks that has to be completed before you can do the job you first set out to do’.
His example was of wanting to wax his car, but to do this he first has to buy a new hose, which meant borrowing his neighbour’s ‘EZpass’ to cross a toll bridge to get to the DIY store, but to do this he first has to re stuff the mooshi pillow his son borrowed from the neighbour. Hence ending up at the zoo shaving a yak!

This explains beautifully how a simple task can end up becoming a ‘shaving a yak’ kind of project.

Today we had planned to put our Christmas tree up. Like many others I’m sure we weren’t the only ones with a Yak style adventure.
We have roof lights in our living room, which despite being brand new four years ago and not needing to be cleaned, the past two weeks they have become covered in green mildew and desperately needed cleaning before all our family visit next weekend. Trouble is they measure 4m by 2m and the highest point is 4m from the ground. This had to be a job done by the tallest member of the house ( Mr C) on a ladder. Luckily our ladders were in our garage, however un be known to me Mr C had disposed of all the dust sheets I thought were in a cupboard in the garage. I only learned of their disposal after moving numerous tool boxes, a karcher jet washer and a Bee ‘Nuc’ box.
We had to clean the roof lights before putting the tree up as the sofas needed to be moved around the living room to get the ladders up.
The tree decorations were neatly packed away in the loft. Access to the loft was via a not so neat teenage son’s bedroom.

The planning for this job goes back even further, like two legs of a family tree. The lights angle and the sewing machine angle.
This year I set my heart on solar lights for our tree. As our living room gets a lot of light this is a practical option. I’ve been preparing Mr C for this for several months, and its almost a year since he strimmed my existing set of solar lights from a hedge in the garden. I’d bought that set at a bargain price of £5.99 in a discount store and wasn’t happy about having to replace them. I also thought that if Mr C bought the replacements then he may remember not to strim them.
Despite sending him links to appropriate websites no purchase was forthcoming, particularly as the carriage for such lights was often higher than the lights themselves.
I had been planning an online auction of my ‘lost’ & unfinished paintings in exchange of ‘things’ rather than money so I thought that solar lights would be an ideal trade option.
Very luckily for me a lovely lady indeed offered me solar lights for a painting so a deal was agreed!
The sewing machine angle is that the best place to put the tree, especially to allow for maximum charging of the solar lights, is by the living room doors.
This is a beautiful 1934 electric Singer sewing machine set into a wooden table. I was extremely lucky to have been given it earlier in the year by a dear friend who no longer used it. After my initial fear of even touching such a gorgeous machine I finally plucked up the courage to have another couple of friends give me some threading up tips and so now I’ve been using the machine a lot using up the boxes and boxes of fabric I’d accumulated over the years.
With the tree up in front of the Summer garden doors I wouldn’t be able to use the machine so easily and so a manic finishing of the blinds and Christmas gifts I had been making ensued.

I am sure there are people everywhere with piles of half written Christmas cards, where the flow was stopped when a child or dogs name was forgotten, so a frantic hunt through emails or letters begins, searching for a reference to the missing name! I’m sure I am not the only one who then finds themselves fully engaged in decluttering their computer or going through an old bag of saved Christmas cards and then starts cutting the covers off to be made into gift tags…
So, when you find yourself ‘yak shaving’ think of me, awareness of it is half the battle. The trick then is to decide just how important is it to continue on the indirect route to finish a job. I’m not sure if it could be classed as procrastination or if it’s just an inevitable course when trying to actually finish something, properly!
I do know that the satisfaction of having completed such a project is reward in itself!

Just in case you were wondering, Mr C did a fabulous job cleaning the roof lights, the solar lights work on our tree, the kids put the tree up and decorated it whilst I relaxed in the bath, and I finished making the Christmas gifts, but not the blinds, they can wait!

Now where’s that letter saying that my friend’s sister’s son has a new baby girl called…. ?

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One comment

  1. A fun read! Plus, how many of can identify with this round about way of getting a particular task or project completed? I feel it’s normal, or I would like to hope its normal, but love having a name to put to it!

    Like

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