Time Management for System Administrators: Stop Working Late and Start Working Smart

Author: Tom Limoncelli
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All Reddit 66
This Month Reddit 5

Comments

by gort32   2021-12-10

Pen and paper is what I use!

Very much related: Time Management for System Administrators - this gets into a lot of the practical ways for sysadmins to manage our unique workload that includes deep heavy projects with constant support interruptions. Highly recommended!

by norcalscan   2021-12-10

Time Management for System Administrators has some great ideas to get you going, that work for solo on up to large teams.

A lot of people have said it already, in short

  • Learn to say no, or at least "not at this time"
  • Carve out literal time for certain tasks. Morning can be tickets, afternoon can be projects, or whatever best fits your day (if your calls usually happen in afternoon, make the morning your project time)
  • Out of that carved time, Friday's are read-only, so handle light-weight tickets during ticket time, but project time on Friday is for investing in YOU, education, catch up on industry news, etc.
  • You will need to time-shift your day, so get everyone (and you) used to submitting tickets, leaving voicemails, taking "I'm busy at the moment but let's try after 1pm today" seriously, etc.
  • Let the phone ring, or put it on silent during project time. They'll find you if there's an emergency. If your alerts don't tell you, users will definitely alert you to flames coming out of the server. (No flames, then come back after 1pm please...)

edit: I missed you had sites as well. You can make a certain day or two travel days, the sites know to expect you only then, primary site knows not to expect you. Even better, if you only have 1 or 2 tickets for the site with 6 users, bring your projects with you (or self-investment ed) and enjoy the peace and quiet of a remote site. Nobody misses you at the main site because you're expected to be gone. Site support as a solo IT can really throw a wrench in all of this, so you'll really need to set/define expectations of service etc there.

by gort32   2021-12-10

This book has long been one of the best for learning the unique ways that sysadmins need to manage their time:

https://www.amazon.com/Time-Management-System-Administrators-Working/dp/0596007833

Highly recommended!

by OSUTechie   2019-08-24

This book has been suggested a few times so I finally got around to reading it. I think it has some good information in it. I'm only about halfway through it, but I like it so far.

Time Management for System Administrators

Other books would be any of the social books like "How to influence people", "7 healthy habits..." Etc.

I haven't read this one yet, but It has been suggested to me if you plan to go more into management/leadership Start with Why

Other books that have I have ear marked due to being mentioned:

  • The Devops Handbook
  • The Practice of System and Network Administration
  • The Practice of Cloud System Administration
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - This one might have been a joke, but as someone who has dealt with depression and burnout on the job. I think this could be beneficial.
  • How to win friends and influence people
  • How to win friends and influence people in the Digital Age

Also, do a search for "Books for IT Professionals" to find a lot of other suggestions.

by Roland465   2019-08-24

Time Management for System Administrators:

https://www.amazon.com/Time-Management-System-Administrators-Working/dp/0596007833

Personally I use a basic spiral bound notebook.

by -TMac-   2019-08-24

Maybe this will help: https://www.amazon.com/Time-Management-System-Administrators-Working/dp/0596007833/ref=nodl_

by hotstandbycoffee   2019-07-21

This book changed the way I handle my days when I was a solo engineer doing everything under the sun. Now that I'm part of a larger network engineering team, I only use a handful of the tools recommended in the book as I don't find my time to be as scarce, and I get pretty good priority communication from management.

When I was a solo engineer:

Start of day: Block off the first 30min of your day to deal with any immediate, business-critical fires that I was either called on, texted about, or emailed about. If nothing is critical and needing attention, I would evaluate my task whiteboard (broken up into Primary/Secondary/Tertiary columns). Items are assigned to Primary priority either by myself or my manager. Secondary and Tertiary priorities are up to me. If someone waiting on a task that I deemed was Secondary or Tertiary priority is upset about that, they can speak with my manager and we'll determine what is most critical to the business.

End of day: Evaluate task whiteboard and determine what, if anything, needs to be added (and to what column) so it can be re-addressed tomorrow morning. As you cross off and wipe things from the board, make sure to document your accomplishments so it's easier on you/your boss during review time.

Start of Week: Maybe block off 30min with your manager/team lead/etc. to discuss current/upcoming projects. Document any completed tasks from your taskboard and wipe some off to make space (don't leave too much space or people might think you have nothing going on!)

End of Week: Update notes on what progress (if you managed to find any time) you've made on the projects you discussed in your stand-up meeting with your manager/lead/etc. at the beginning of the week. This is so you already have your notes ready next week and can do your Start of Day 30min fire addressing/taskboard eval on Monday without scrambling.

Start of Month: Man, I don't think I ever planned anything a month ahead.

by ITGuytech   2019-07-21

This book helped me a lot and changed my life I strongly recommend - Time Management for System Administrators https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0596007833/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_c_api_i_r4WWCbJPR5RPA

by Keinichn   2019-07-21

>I can't go to the bathroom without missing atleast 1 phone call from someone about something breaking.

Don't worry about that. Hell, I straight up ignore my phone sometimes even when I'm right beside it. Priorities and such.

>if I need to start looking elsewhere for more pay to offset the stress

Not a bad idea. Always be cognizant of what's out there.

As others have said, bring it up professionally with your boss. His response will help sway the "should I look elsewhere" decision.

Another good suggestion is to work on time management skills. Here's a highly recommended book around here.

And you have vacation days for a reason. Use them. If you try to but they never approve it, then that's a big red flag.

by NoyzMaker   2019-07-21

These are a few books I always recommend in no particular order:

  • Time Management for System Administrators
  • Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
  • The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win
  • Writing That Works
  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
by davidbrit2   2019-07-21

Mandatory reading:

https://www.amazon.com/Time-Management-System-Administrators-Working/dp/0596007833

by NoyzMaker   2019-07-21

These are a few books I always recommend in no particular order:

  • Time Management for System Administrators
  • Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
  • The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win
  • Writing That Works
  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
by cold_and_jaded   2017-08-19

Old but still good

Might not be a technical best practice, but is a best practice in terms of mind set on how you manage your time.