At some point in your life you may have to shave a yak. This sheering realization often scampers by you at a time of great inconvenience. You’ll probably be doing some task of moderate importance, only to realize the deed cannot be done until you’ve stepped through a series of smaller, tedious tasks requiring something obscure like yak hair to complete the idiot loop.
And the next thing you know you’re at the local petting zoo shaving a yak.
I faced a yak attack the other day while doing something computery. This is what my brain was thinking as the shaving (nearly) went down.
This is my brain on yak:
- I want to use a cool new feature in Evernote, so I need to update my Evernote app.
- To update Evernote I need to upgrade my iPhone to iOS 7.
- To upgrade to iOS 7 I need to backup my iPhone.
- To backup my iPhone I need to update iTunes on my laptop.
- To update iTunes on my laptop I need to restart my computer.
- My computer battery is low on juice, so I need to plug in my laptop.
- I forgot my power cable and I’m sitting in a coffee shop 45 minutes away from home. I could buy a new power adapter at the Future Shop next door, but that’ll cost me $75 bucks.
- I hear yak fur is a great power source for Apple devices. I should source a Himalayan bovine, but I’m on deadline and that new Evernote feature would have been awesome if only I had enough yak fur to power my dang laptop.
In this instance I put the razor down and opted to let the furry beast be, because sometimes you shouldn’t shave the yak. Sometimes you need to find a better way around the shearing. And sometimes you need to get a good grip on the clippers, let the fuzzy fur fly, and choke on the hairballs. Some yaks need a good hair cut.
I told this to a reader after he emailed to complain about the work required to build a budget. Welcome to my reader’s yak:
I downloaded your budget spreadsheet and read your How to make a budget series. I enjoyed reading it. I’m discouraged because before I can do my budget I need a few months of receipts and statements to track my money. I don’t keep my receipts. Should I wait a month before doing the budget and track my spending? Thanks.
Classic yak. Also, procrastination. My response after explaining yak shaving:
No, you shouldn’t wait. You should get an electric razor in one hand and a vat of shaving cream in the other and find that paperwork hiding in that woolly yak. What, you don’t have credit card statements, banking records, and a few receipts kicking around the house? Bite the bullet and shave your yak already. You can always update your numbers with better numbers as the month mooooves on. You have the tools, so use them. You can do it.
The decision to shave a yak shouldn’t be taken lightly. Ask yourself, “What is the cost to not tackling this problem right now?” If the cost is great, like not understanding your finances, then tackle that yak. If the cost is small, like skipping an unimportant software upgrade this second, then put the razor down.
The biggest yaks tend to trample your sanity when you’re striving for perfection. Since ‘perfect’ doesn’t exist, find a less than perfect way to shed your yak and live with it.
So where am I going with this?
I’ve delayed updating my computery devices for days, so my yak is calling. Please excuse me while I download software, restart computers, and install new operating systems — that mammoth needs a good clipping and I might be shearing for hours.
I really hope the new Evernote is worth the hassle ’cause fur is gonna fly.