The Summer really has flown by. Another school year is about to begin. Working at a university, that means the optimum time for working on longer term projects has come to an end and it’s about to get really busy with just the day-to-day tasks again. I was swamped through the Summer with tedious projects and with students returning it will only get busier. I’ve been reading Time Management for System Administrators to help me get the most out of the time I’m in the office.
The book goes to lengths defining/defending why system administrators need their own time management book and upon completing it, I really saw the value in having a book specifically geared for us. The biggest thing that sets sysadmins apart from most other occupations is that we are constantly being interrupted. It would be different if the interruptions were the work but there are also long-term projects that require time to plan and implement.
Thomas A. Limoncelli writes this book and does so with a few things in mind as he helps readers shape their goals and picture what their lives would look like with time management. One of the most important things to me that is kept in mind with these time management techniques is the fact that IT needs to be customer service-oriented while also answering to administration.
Management judges an SA by whether projects get done. Customers, however, judge you by whether you are available to them. These two priorities play against each other, and you’re stuck in the middle. If you are infinitely available to customers, you will never have time to complete the projects that management wants to see completed. Yet, who approves your pay raises?
The book uses and explains these principles throughout:
- Use a single organizer
- Conserve brain power
- Develop and depend on routines
- Develop habits and mantras
- Maintain focus during dedicated time
- Use these same tools for your social life
While there are many corny tech-related analogies to explain the concepts, mostly they help explain concepts more than they annoy. There are also some rules shared that also seem over-reaching like his rule that a show must be deleted from the Tivo if it’s watched to the end. By and large, the author realizes that things that work for him don’t work for everybody and he encourages people to find and establish the rules that do work for them in the time management mindset.
Coaching to make these rules are found throughout the these chapters:
- Time Management Principles
- Focus Versus Interruptions
- The Cycle System
- The Cycle System: To Do Lists and Schedules
- The Cycle System: Calendar Management
- The Cycle System: Life Goals
- Stress Management
- Email Management
- Eliminating Time Wasters
There are a number of great concepts I’ve taken from this book and already implemented in my life. While still being young in my career, this book helped substantiate some of the things I’ve already learned and guide me in the right direction for those topics I’m just coming to now. One topic I liked included delegation and how to manage your boss. Solving problems at the right level was a concise and helpful topic to read about.
To conclude, I would easily recommend that you check out Time Management for System Administrators if you’re in a customer-facing IT role. Even if you have your own system in place and you do well in regards to time management, the book can affirm your methods and still give you ideas for how to improve. Besides, if you have such a good system, you should have plenty of time to read this less than 200 page book.