This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word yak shaving
Any apparently useless activity which, by allowing you to overcome intermediate difficulties, allows you to solve a larger problem.
The actually useless activity you do that appears important when you are consciously or unconsciously procrastinating about a larger problem.
The New Hacker's Dictionary
[MIT AI Lab, after 2000: orig. probably from a Ren &
Stimpy episode.] Any seemingly pointless activity which is
actually necessary to solve a problem which solves a problem which, several
levels of recursion later, solves the real problem you're working
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