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Time Management for System Administrators

Book Description

Time is a precious commodity, especially if you're a system administrator. No other job pulls people in so many directions at once. Users interrupt you constantly with requests, preventing you from getting anything done. Your managers want you to get long-term projects done but flood you with requests for quick-fixes that prevent you from ever getting to those long-term projects. But the pressure is on you to produce and it only increases with time. What do you do?

The answer is time management. And not just any time management theory--you want Time Management for System Administrators, to be exact. With keen insights into the challenges you face as a sys admin, bestselling author Thomas Limoncelli has put together a collection of tips and techniques that will help you cultivate the time management skills you need to flourish as a system administrator.

Time Management for System Administrators understands that an Sys Admin often has competing goals: the concurrent responsibilities of working on large projects and taking care of a user's needs. That's why it focuses on strategies that help you work through daily tasks, yet still allow you to handle critical situations that inevitably arise.

Among other skills, you'll learn how to:

  • Manage interruptions

  • Eliminate timewasters

  • Keep an effective calendar

  • Develop routines for things that occur regularly

  • Use your brain only for what you're currently working on

  • Prioritize based on customer expectations

  • Document and automate processes for faster execution

What's more, the book doesn't confine itself to just the work environment, either. It also offers tips on how to apply these time management tools to your social life. It's the first step to a more productive, happier you.

Table of Contents

  1. Time Management for System Administrators
    1. SPECIAL OFFER: Upgrade this ebook with O’Reilly
    2. About the Author
    3. Foreword
    4. Preface
      1. How to Read This Book
      2. Audience
      3. About This Book
      4. Assumptions This Book Makes
      5. Conventions Used in This Book
      6. Using Code Examples
      7. We'd Like to Hear from You
      8. Safari® Enabled
      9. Acknowledgments
    5. 1. Time Management Principles
      1. 1.1. What's So Difficult About Time Management?
      2. 1.2. The Principles of Time Management for SAs
        1. 1.2.1. One "Database" for Time Management Information
        2. 1.2.2. Conserve Your Brain Power for What's Important
        3. 1.2.3. Develop Routines and Stick with Them
        4. 1.2.4. Develop Habits and Mantras
        5. 1.2.5. Maintain Focus During "Project Time"
        6. 1.2.6. Manage Your Social Life with the Same Tools You Use for Your Work Life
      3. 1.3. It Won't Be Easy
      4. 1.4. Summary
    6. 2. Focus Versus Interruptions
      1. 2.1. The Focused Brain
      2. 2.2. An Environment to Encourage Focus
        1. 2.2.1. Multitasking
        2. 2.2.2. Peak Time for Focus
        3. 2.2.3. The First-Hour Rule
      3. 2.3. Interruptions
      4. 2.4. Directing Interruptions Away from You
      5. 2.5. You Can Say "Go Away" Without Being a Jerk
        1. 2.5.1. Delegate, Record, or Do
          1. 2.5.1.1. Delegate it
          2. 2.5.1.2. Record it
          3. 2.5.1.3. Do it
      6. 2.6. Summary
    7. 3. Routines
      1. 3.1. Sample Routines
        1. 3.1.1. Routine #1: Gas Up on Sunday
        2. 3.1.2. Routine #2: Always Bring My Organizer
        3. 3.1.3. Routine #3: Regularly Meet with My Boss
        4. 3.1.4. Routine #4: The Check-In-with-Staff Walk-Around
        5. 3.1.5. Routine #5: The Check-In-with-Customers Walk-Around
        6. 3.1.6. Routine #6: Pre-Compile Manual Backup-Tape Changes
        7. 3.1.7. Routine #7: During Outages, Communicate to Management
        8. 3.1.8. Routine #8: Use Automatic Checks While Performing Certain Tasks
        9. 3.1.9. Routine #9: Always Back Up a File Before You Edit
        10. 3.1.10. Routine #10: Record "To Take" Items for Trips
      2. 3.2. How to Develop Your Own Routines
      3. 3.3. Deleting Old Routines
      4. 3.4. Summary
    8. 4. The Cycle System
      1. 4.1. Don't Trust Your Brain
      2. 4.2. Why Other Systems Fail
      3. 4.3. Systems That Succeed
      4. 4.4. The Cycle
      5. 4.5. Summary
    9. 5. The Cycle System: To Do Lists and Schedules
      1. 5.1. A Sample Day
        1. 5.1.1. Step 1: Create Today's Schedule
        2. 5.1.2. Step 2: Create Today's To Do List
        3. 5.1.3. Step 3: Prioritize and Reschedule
          1. 5.1.3.1. Dealing with overflow
        4. 5.1.4. Step 4: Work the Plan
        5. 5.1.5. Step 5: Finish the Day
        6. 5.1.6. Step 6: Leave the Office
        7. 5.1.7. Step 7: Repeat
          1. 5.1.7.1. Create today's schedule
          2. 5.1.7.2. Create today's (Tuesday's) to do list
          3. 5.1.7.3. Prioritize and reschedule
          4. 5.1.7.4. Work the plan
          5. 5.1.7.5. Finish the day and leave the office
      2. 5.2. Other Tips
        1. 5.2.1. Large Projects
        2. 5.2.2. What to Do When You Finish Early
        3. 5.2.3. New Tasks Given to You During the Day
        4. 5.2.4. Personal Tasks
      3. 5.3. Setting Up a PAA for Use with The Cycle
      4. 5.4. Setting Up a PDA for Use with The Cycle
      5. 5.5. Summary
    10. 6. The Cycle System: Calendar Management
      1. 6.1. How to Use Your Calendar
        1. 6.1.1. Never Miss a Meeting or Event
      2. 6.2. One Calendar for Business and Social Life
      3. 6.3. Repeating Tasks
        1. 6.3.1. Repeating Tasks on a PAA
      4. 6.4. Know Your Personal Rhythms
      5. 6.5. Know Your Company's Rhythms
      6. 6.6. Summary
    11. 7. The Cycle System: Life Goals
      1. 7.1. The Secret Trick
      2. 7.2. Setting Goals
      3. 7.3. Planning Your Next Steps
      4. 7.4. Schedule the Steps
      5. 7.5. Revisit Your Goals Regularly
      6. 7.6. Summary
    12. 8. Prioritization
      1. 8.1. Prioritizing Your To Do Lists
        1. 8.1.1. Doing Tasks in List Order
        2. 8.1.2. Prioritizing Based on Customer Expectations
          1. 8.1.2.1. Delegate, record, do revisited
          2. 8.1.2.2. Mutual interruption shield revisited
      2. 8.2. Project Priorities
        1. 8.2.1. Prioritization for Impact
      3. 8.3. Requests from Your Boss
        1. 8.3.1. Managing Your Boss
          1. 8.3.1.1. Make sure your boss knows your career goals
          2. 8.3.1.2. Upward delegate only when it leverages your boss's authority
          3. 8.3.1.3. Understand and help accomplish your boss's goals
      4. 8.4. Summary
    13. 9. Stress Management
      1. 9.1. Overload and Conflicting Directions
      2. 9.2. Vacation Time
      3. 9.3. Yoga, Meditation, and Massage
      4. 9.4. Summary
    14. 10. Email Management
      1. 10.1. Managing Your Email
        1. 10.1.1. Filter
        2. 10.1.2. Delete Unread
        3. 10.1.3. Read and...
          1. 10.1.3.1. Delete
          2. 10.1.3.2. File
          3. 10.1.3.3. Reply, then delete
          4. 10.1.3.4. Delegate or forward, then delete
        4. 10.1.4. Do Now, Then Delete
      2. 10.2. Jump Starting the Process
      3. 10.3. Summary
    15. 11. Eliminating Time Wasters
      1. 11.1. What Is a Time Waster?
      2. 11.2. Avoiding the Tempting Time Wasters
      3. 11.3. Common Time Wasters
        1. 11.3.1. Office Socializing
      4. 11.4. Wasteful Meetings
        1. 11.4.1. Standing Around a Video Store Deciding What to Rent
        2. 11.4.2. Watching Less Bad TV
        3. 11.4.3. Laundry and Housecleaning
        4. 11.4.4. Hardware/Software Installation
        5. 11.4.5. Others
      5. 11.5. Strategic Versus Tactical
      6. 11.6. Summary
    16. 12. Documentation
      1. 12.1. Document What Matters to You
        1. 12.1.1. The Customer-Facing Repository
        2. 12.1.2. Internal IT Documentation
          1. 12.1.2.1. Vendor contacts and maintenance agreements
          2. 12.1.2.2. Internal IT procedures
          3. 12.1.2.3. Network diagrams
      2. 12.2. Wiki Technology
        1. 12.2.1. Wiki Notation and Page Linking
        2. 12.2.2. Preventing Wiki Vandalism
      3. 12.3. Summary
    17. 13. Automation
      1. 13.1. What to Automate?
      2. 13.2. How to Automate
        1. 13.2.1. Step 1: Do It Manually
        2. 13.2.2. Step 2: Code Each Step
        3. 13.2.3. Step 3: Bring the Steps Together
        4. 13.2.4. Step 4: Test It All Together
      3. 13.3. Simple Things Done Often
        1. 13.3.1. Command Shortcuts
          1. 13.3.1.1. Getting to the right directory
        2. 13.3.2. Hostname Shortcuts
        3. 13.3.3. A Makefile for Every Host
        4. 13.3.4. A Brief Introduction to make
      4. 13.4. Hard Things Done Once
        1. 13.4.1. Encapsulating a Difficult Command
        2. 13.4.2. Building Up a Long Command Line
        3. 13.4.3. Using Microsoft Excel to Avoid Writing a GUI
      5. 13.5. Letting Others Do Privileged Operations
      6. 13.6. Summary
    18. A. Epilogue
      1. What to Do with All Your "New" Free Time?
    19. About the Author
    20. Colophon
    21. SPECIAL OFFER: Upgrade this ebook with O’Reilly