This is a mash up of “chasing your tail” (busy but not achieving anything) and ” a red herring” (something that misleads or detracts from what is important). This was advice from a Judge to an attorney to have short deadlines to complete writing assignments, otherwise peripheral issues might be focused on that don’t really matter. The combination of the phrases creates a nice new one, meaning wasting time on non essential issues. So don’t sweat the small stuff, people. Interestingly, the origin of the phrase “red herring” supposedly comes from the training of hounds to follow scents. Red herrings would have a strong scent, and would be tied to the tails of hounds to make them concentrate on the actual scent that they were supposed to follow. A big thank you to John Costello for sending this one in.