The Business Rising Podcast - Getting Stuff Done When Your Hair Is On Fire

This is a recap and posting of our recent feature on The Business Rising Podcast. If you prefer to listen or read a recap we have provided both below. 

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If you are reading this article, you're likely a productivity addict. You love to get things done and constantly strive to improve the quality of tasks that receive your attention daily. 

More often than not we as managers are faced with an unhealthy work-cycle where we wake up having more on our plates than we did the day before and battle interruptions from 8 to 5 rather than completing our work.   

If you are struggling with a constant stream of emergencies on top of an overwhelming workload and are just looking for some relief, give this episode a listen and/or read through the below summary of this podcast feature of The Manager's Journal.

The Main Takeaways 

  • Many of people's problems are attributed to a lack of clarity
  • "If it's not clear to you what you should be doing it's pretty easy to have excuses for why you are not getting it done. Where if it's clear, if you are very clear on what you need to get done, and you are not doing it, at that point, it's either a lack of priority or laziness."
  • Any other excuse for not getting where you want to go in life is more acceptable than having not taken the time to define what you wanted in the first place.
  • After getting clarity on your goals/aspirations (Our Goal Setting Guide is a great starting point for this process), the real challenge begins. From here on it will all be about developing habits that allow you to be intentional with your time and where it is taking you. Each of our days are packed with countless short-term distractions that can derail us from our long-term goals.
  • The person who can most effectively aim their daily activity at achieving their larger goals will experience the most success. This is the purpose of The Manager’s Journal.
  • Find a journal system that provides you the same and develop consistent habits around this core ritual.

Summary Of Podcast Episode

About Ruben and The Manager's Journal:

Like most of The Manager’s Journal community, I have been goal-oriented, determined and hardworking for most of my life. Growing up I had two major goals. First, attend Texas A&M University and be a member of the Corps of Cadets & Aggie Band. Second, to own a business in the construction or real estate field. Now, years later, I have achieved both goals and so much more. After graduating Texas A&M, having majored in Construction Science and minored in Business Administration, I took a job as a Project Manager with D.E Harvey Builders, the largest contracting company, in Houston, TX, the fourth largest city in America. During this experience, I managed over one hundred million dollars in projects.

It was halfway through this experience I found myself working ridiculous hours to maintain my success at work and all too often sacrificing my personal life and health to make it happen. These long work days eventually led to what felt like insanity. I tried multiple different hacks and journals in an attempt to help manage my time and projects better, but nothing seemed to work. Eventually, I had the idea to create a journal system tailored to help not only me but any manager get on top of their time and get their life back. I have called it The Manager’s Journal in honor of the all too often overworked project manager that is spread between all compartments of their company and projects. This journal has been refined over the years and has played a pivotal role in helping myself and many others gaining control and getting further faster with our lives.

The Manager's Journal mission is to assist overwhelmed project managers in controlling their substantial workloads and achieve their ideal lives. We have a goal of helping one million project managers escape the neverending work cycle common with our industry and achieve their ideal lives.

Addressing The Barriers to Success

Technology has taken us from being connected to hyper-connected. The time it does save us on some tasks, we are just backfilling with more work. Both of these problems can be fixed with implementing a system of tracking our days in writing.

We need a way to prioritize and document what we are doing so that we are not just living groundhog day over and over again. 

The system discussed that is found inside our journal is an adaptation on the Eisenhower Urgent Important principal. Also, similar to the grid that Stephen Covey lays out in his book "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People".  See our Time Management Article for further info on this system and prioritization in general.

I tried a lot of  other systems and each had its strengths and weaknesses (Here is a quick list)

Broad To-Do List Approach (Blank notebooks):

  • User constantly needing to update, clean-up and rewrite lists
  • No organization/system provided that is not created and maintained by the user
  • No future planning implementation


  • The single most distracting divice we own is the phone. The majority of us can not look at our phone without seeing bright red noticfications all over it. To expect it to be a tool that helps in being an organized space to run your day is a particularly difficult feat.
  • Too slow for pulling up and documenting/changing tasks as the day progresses
  • Most are too broad or become very complex quickly as features are added
  • No free space for quick drawings or notes from the day
  • Not a quick or as effective method in comparison to writing

Ready Made Journal Systems:

  • Journal/Planner systems for sale are great for planning your life, but are not designed for assistance in the workplace of most managers. Although writing a daily affirmation in the morning and evening and only being provided with three lines to write exactly what you will accomplish today sounds great, it is unrealistic to operate as a tool throughout crazy days.
  • Steps were too burdensome and specific

Day Runner:

  • Great for daily task completion and documentation of past days
  • Lack of future planning
  • Most are restrictive on working space provided
  • No free space for quick drawings or notes from the day


  • Good for future planning, but not in daily planning/execution of tasks
  • Lack of space
  • No free space for quick drawings or notes from the day


I found the above weak points to resonate across the construction project management industry. Daily we deal with a list of things that can go wrong from a simple phone call to one of the hundreds of guys working on our job sites having a problem or accident.

Our journal cannot stop the emergencies from coming. They are inevitable when working with so many people, complex schedules, and intricate systems. Somebody is going to call. Somebody is going to cause a distraction of some kind. The difference is, if you are not keeping a system to maintain priorities, after you put that fire out it's so easy to move right on to the next fire and the next fire. This is the common feeling of getting to the end of the day exhausted, feeling like you have accomplished nothing and knowing that you will be right back at it tomorrow. 


The Manager's Journal provides success that is two-fold.

First - From day one with our journal, you will be able to control the initial fires of the day. Immediately after these emergency situations crop-up you will be able to view them through the lens of your priorities. After the fire has been dealt with, you will be able to pick back up where you left off. Even if the situation warrants priority over your day's list, you still have your spot in time saved and can move your tasks forward to the following day. Again, picking up where you left off.

Second - In the larger picture of the consistency of this system, staying on task and controlling your time, you are able to work those larger defined life aspirations into your days. Consistency is the key. If you make a point to chip some small piece away a day you will be amazed as you complete what appeared to be major long-term goals before the end of the year.

I can look back at my first journals and follow a string of tasks to the present day that are widdling down my overall goals. As one is accomplished another is developed. Through this process, I have slowly watched my time focus more on the important and less on the urgent.

I credit so much of the success in my life to writing things down. So many of peoples problems are attributed to a lack of clarity. "If it's not clear to you what you should be doing it's pretty easy to have excuses for why you are not getting it done. Where if it's clear, if you are very clear on what you need to get done, and you are not doing it, at that point, it's either a lack of priority or laziness."

Our lives are even more complex than the projects we work on day in and day out. With our projects, we plan ahead, list, and prioritize tasks/milestones. Our work and personal lives should be handled no differently. Our brains work best in this linear fashion. If we can just get a line drawn from today to our future goals, we are hard to stop. 

Action Steps - Getting started

  1. First and foremost, get the daily fires under control with a journal system. You will be amazed how quickly you will feel more in control and overall happier with work/life. Skip the painful process of developing your own system by starting with a designed journal / planner system that fits you. Particularly if you are a construction project manager, The Manager's Journal has been made for you.
  2. Second, take this journal to its full potential by incorporating your personal aspirations on a daily basis. If you do not have a clear written set of goals that you can put your hands on right now, use our Goal Setting Guide, to get your fulfilled life defined and brought down from an ultimate level to a one-year actionable level. This goal guide will implement directly with The Manager's Journal


  • When looking at lists, be it life goals or daily to-do lists, a simple question to ask yourself is which of these items if done will make the others easier or irrelevant altogether. Prioritize those items first.
  • The vast majority of people's most productive time is in the morning. Utilize this time to complete these most important tasks.
  • Parkinson's Law is real. Work expands or contracts to fill the available time for its completion. We will take whatever time we have available for urgent tasks. So strategically give yourself less time for these urgent tasks and, as stated above, utilize your most productive time periods for the most important tasks. 


To get a copy of The Manager's Journal go here

To get a copy of our complimentary Goal Setting Guide go here

If you have any questions about The Journal, Goal Guide, articles or anything else please feel free to contact me at (I might not be able to respond right away, but I will respond) or our office at

Thank you for reading our blog and we hope to have you join our community!

Blessings In Your Endeavors,

Ruben Watson 

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