Misguided Urgency, Killer of Getting Things Done

Misguided urgency is the killer of getting things done. The Minimalists post Someday inspired me to do this little exercise a few weeks ago.  This type of exercise, when done regularly, helps me realign my priorities, responsibilities, and goals – both personal and professional. I’ve completed similar activities before and the results are always the same.

In order to accomplish your goals, realign your priorities and responsibilities.

Misguided Urgency is the Killer of Getting Things Done

Working for an AmeriCorps program equals wearing many hats, managing many projects simultaneously, and always being flexible and ready for things to change. Sometimes little “emergencies” creep up and derail the progress I’m making on my to-do list. This happens in my personal life, too.

In order to accomplish your goals they must align with your priorities and responsibilities. This means some shuffling might have to happen.

After completing this type of exercise I immediately adjust my daily and long term to-do lists. The big things I really care about — traveling, self-care, my God daughter– get moved back up to the top and replace the “urgent” items that crept up to the there over time.

The world will not crumble if I don’t get this one mundane task completed today. My office will not seize to a halt if I can’t respond to all the emails I received in one day. I might be pretty heart broken if I let an opportunity to visit a friend in Belize slip through my fingers, though. AMIRIGHT?

Here is what I came up with when I recently did this exercise

Someday (things I’ve been meaning to do lately)

  • buy bookshelf for bedroom
  • fix external hard drive
  • go to yoga more often
  • write more
  • finish the damn books I started
  • hang pictures
  • get haircut

Today (how I spent the last 24 hours)

  • driving, stuck in traffic
  • respond to work emails
  • reading Twitter & FB posts
  • began draft of new blog post
  • listened to music
  • grocery shopping
  • cooking
  • Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest
  • making notes in my calendar
  • laundry
  • dishes
  • sleep

As you can see, not a single item on my Today list helped me make progress on my Someday list. There is no date on the piece of paper, but it doesn’t seem like a work day, so WHY AM I RESPONDING TO WORK EMAILS?! Those can always wait until Monday. Always.

Is misguided urgency holding you back?

The answer most likely is YES. Try this exercise for yourself and see. There’s only a few steps, and I guarantee you will learn something about where your priorities lay. Once you know, you can make necessary adjustments if you need.

  1. Grab a blank piece of paper and a pen.
  2. Write “Someday” along the top, then for about a minute list all the things you’ve been intending to do but haven’t gotten around to doing.
  3. After one minute, flip the paper over and write “Today” along the top.
  4. Now, list everything that you spent time on over the last 24 hours.

Share your lists and thoughts on the exercise in the comments below!

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Misguided Urgency is the Killer of Getting Things Done



  • Reply
    September 22, 2015 at 2:43 PM

    I totally did this exercise and it was interesting to see how much I have done within the past 24 hours. I am grateful to have uncovered that much of what I DID do during this timeframe coincides with my “someday” list, but I also definitely noticed that I was neglecting some areas! Awesome exercise. I am going to share it on Twitter!

    • Reply
      Brittany Quaglieri
      September 22, 2015 at 5:56 PM

      Thank you for sharing, Nikolai! Since creating this list here, I’ve been better about making time every day for my important goals, priorities, and responsibilities.

  • Reply
    Susan Decoteau-Ferrier
    November 29, 2015 at 8:43 PM

    I did this just recently. I have terrible time management skills.

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