Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Review: Time Management for System Administrators

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Career Archive,Geek Work,Life Goals,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:54 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Wish I’d found this sooner.

No, really, I wish I’d found and read Time Management for System Administrators a long, long time ago. This book was great! Some of the techniques in the book I already do, but I had to learn them the hard way. But, there were many more things that I either had never thought of, or hadn’t thought of in the context of time management or improving my personal efficiency.

For instance, I’ve used ToDo lists in the past, in fact, I’d started using one again recently. But, I’ve never looked at using them the way the author, Thomas Limoncelli, suggests using them in Chapter Five: The Cycle. The idea, in short, is to manage everything on your ToDo list today by either doing it, delegating it, or moving it to tomorrow’s ToDo list. No matter what you do with it, it gets managed and everything on today’s ToDo list gets dealt with, one way or another.
Another theme that Limoncelli harped on was, whichever way you choose to keep track of tasks and ToDo lists, it has to be a way that you keep with you. Either you learn to carry your organizer with you everywhere, or you have to adapt something that you do carry with you to hold the information you need. In my case, I decided to use the organizer functions on my cell phone. So far, that’s been working well for me.
After reading this book, I was also inspired to document my workstation imaging system in much more detail. Now, I have the start of documentation that can, essentially, replace me. This particular document is now detailed enough that just about anyone with a little experience on computers can setup our standard workstation with all the programs installed already. This way, if I ever end up in the hospital again, someone else can keep making workstations. I’ll do some more documentation of this kind and write some policies, too. In a couple of weeks, or months, I’ll have a fairly complete set of IT documentation for this company and I can customize it for any place I might work again. (And, yes, I might post some of it here for you all to steal.)
As part of that documentation, I started a network diagram. I had started this before using an old copy of Visio, but that wasn’t working too well. I got all obsessed with making the autodiscovery function work just right, and it wasn’t, but until I read what Limoncelli had to say about the value of a quick, simple network diagram that isn’t obsessively correct. After that, I grabbed a copy of Network Notepad, a freeware network diagram tool, and all the extra libraries. Then I spent a quick couple of hours getting used to the way Network Notepad works and creating the simple diagram. After using it a bit, I decided I really like it. It has some nice features, so it’s worth checking out. And, I’m going to use it to diagram my home network, too.
I’m still working on formalizing my life goals and implementing the stuff from the stress fighting chapter, but I am getting there. It was very much the right book at the right time for me. But, I do have to admit, if I’d found it sooner in my career, I might be doing better today than I am. Well, maybe not, but I’m glad I read it now.

If you’re a system administrator, no matter if it’s on a Windows network or Unix, or whatever, or, if you work on an IT helpdesk of any kind, get this book, read it and put it to use. NOW.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who does not appreciate kindness and compassion."
   --Dalai Lama

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