I'm working on a task, and without going into specifics, the same information is used over and over again. I've been tasked with consolidating the information, but to do so would require me to either create something unnecessarily long and frankly not involve much changing other than format as the useful stuff is different for each information block.

I could however automatically pull all of the basic information together, but it would run into an issue of not being much use, as it's going to require the same work in order to accomplish it.

Together they make the work either unnecessarily convoluted or don't do much to reduce the work done to create the product.

Some things that are close but don't really hit the mark are

Putting lipstick on a pig

But that doesn't really fit the spirit. I'm not making it look better and it's going to be ugly whether I change it or not.

There's also

going from my thumb to my pinky by way of my elbow

But that only touches on the complication of it, not that any changes would go to the "leg" before the "elbow" in this phrase.

What's a phrase I could use to describe this situation?

  • 2
    If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 14, 2018 at 1:45
  • @NigelJ Almost there.
    – Kris
    Mar 14, 2018 at 8:04
  • How is it reasonable you can’t go into specifics? Should we just guess? After dumping what’s “unnecessarily long“ could you post something about the useful remainder? Linguistically, whether you “could pull anything together” makes little difference; nor whether that would be much use. What difference could the work needed make” “Putting lipstick on a pig” and “going from thumb to my pinky by way of my elbow” do have slight slight similarities but when they’re different they’re very, very different. Mar 27, 2018 at 20:54
  • @RobbieGoodwin Mainly because the specifics don't matter to the meat of the question, but rather the specific scenario does. Whether or not it's about animal husbandry or mutual funds doesn't really factor in. If I had a phrase to describe it better, I would. I do have a quote that has the same feeling, " No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…" by Winston Churchill. It's sort of the best explanation I can give.
    – Anoplexian
    Mar 27, 2018 at 21:01
  • Please be much more clear. Do you see “the specifics don't matter… the specific scenario does…” is a text-book example of contradiction? If that were untrue, could asking the Question inspire confidence in your judgement? Clearly animal husbandry or mutual funds don’t factor. Equally clearly, your Churchill quote almost stipulates there is no such word or phrase. Your Question title, “Idiom for a complex task…” had little to do with the details about “… the same information is used over and over…” Not only are complexity and repetition unrelated; they’re almost opposites. Mar 27, 2018 at 21:17

1 Answer 1


A sledgehammer to crack a nut phrases.org.uk

The use of excessive resources to overcome a small problem.

As in:

"This complex task can't be done a better way, and any changes made would be like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut."

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