To Do or To Don’t?

Never let the Urgent, crowd out the important.” ~ Kelly Caitlin Walker

I just stumbled on this quote and loved it. No idea who this woman is, just know she’s got it right.*

Lantana Flowers Smiley I think I do live by this credo. Just take a look at the laundry that needs folding and the weeds that need pulling, and, and, and. I could go on and on! Both of those chores could have been given priority today. But oh well, they weren’t. Oh well, pushed to the back burner, again.

Stove Smiley (back burner not shown)

And miraculously, the world didn’t stop spinning. Actually, no miracle need for this one, and that’s the lesson: it is ok to decide to allow yourself to put off, to de-prioritize the things we often wrongly think of as urgent. And, its way cool to go down your TO DO list, changing things from TO DO to TO DON’T.

Acacia Smiley

How does this translate when you’re the parent trying to get kids to get things done? Perhaps, it is our job to reassess what we have prioritized. Do they really need to have a spotless room or do they need to go outside to check on the blooming acacia? Homework? Yes. Empty the dishwasher? Not so urgent.

Dishwasher Smiley

Even more importantly as parents we should teach through example. How? No phone calls during meals; a call may be urgent but a family’s together time is important. No skipping your kid’s school performance; you may have pressing tasks that feel urgent but your child’s desire for you to be there is important.

Telephone Cradle Smiley

So what did I do today (instead of laundry)? A ton of really cool stuff. All of it important, to me. All of it things no discerning eye will ever be able to discern. But my sense of satisfaction, for a day well spent, is all, and should be all, I need. You don’t get that from merely dealing with the urgent.

I’m not advocating that we teach our children to be slackers. But it is a very good idea to teach them to prioritize engaging with the world and other people with the goal of feeling and sharing happiness, contentment and joy.

Smile. Be happy


* Got a minute? Google her. It might be interesting. Kelly Catlin Walker

P.S. I did dump the laundry onto the bed so there’ll be no sleeping until that one gets done. Actually kind of looking forward to it as it’s just about the only time I ever turn on the TV. Plus I might as well decide to enjoy it— hating the job doesn’t get it done any faster!


Published on: March 16, 2012
About the Author
Photo of Ruth Kaiser

Ruth Kaiser is a preschool teacher, TED Talk speaker, children's author, AND the creator of the popular online art project where thousands of people find, photograph and share Smiley Faces they find in everyday objects.

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