Found in 10 comments on Hacker News
alchemism · 2019-11-11 · Original thread
It’s practically from another era at this point, but on this topic I cannot recommend enough Time Management for Systems Administrators[1].

Ops Engineers have the Firefighter-Maker-Manager dilemma to contend with. The techniques to balance reactive work with planned work adapts well to SWEs in open offices with too many meetings.


dredmorbius · 2019-07-19 · Original thread
'Urgent' vs. 'important' is useful but incomplete.

Though it's not without its flaws, Getting Things Done by David Allen is at the least a good starting point to personal time management.[1] I also recommend Thomas Limoncelli, Time Management for System Administrators, which addresses specific requirements of many tech workers (programmers too).

From Allen, particularly, the notions of different levels of task (he uses flight/elevation metaphore for Immediate to life-long goals), and of regular review. Information capture without review has very little value.

My first problem with the genre generally is that it seems to presume everything can get done. Actually, no, it cannot, the attempt will burn you out or kill you (see the FT burnout article I'd submitted earlier: But your planning/tracking system may well (and really should) help you discover your pace, rhythms, limits, and warning signs.

Allen shares my general disdain for computerised trackers. I've settled on bullet journal and index cards, mostly, though I'm still developing my system and tuning it.

Another issue is that many "tasks" really aren't; they're goals, aspirations, large projects which have not yet been analysed, assed, broken down to subtasks, and/or abandoned. Even apparrently trivial items can take far longer than anticipated.

Your personal community -- at work, home, social, commercial, political -- has a tremendous influence. If you are constantly facing opposition or at best apathy to even basic goals or needs, any progress will be exceedingly painful. Changing environments is almost always easier than changing peoole, though if you find the situation unchanged even in new environments, consider looking at yourself and how you respond. My first approach is generally to try to work with or accommodate others, but I'm getting far quicker to push back and demand what I need to function and succeed. That's often the only thing that works.



1. Though in fact took me nearly ten years to get Getting Things Done done, no joke.

eitland · 2017-11-20 · Original thread
Time Management for System Administrators has some ideas I think:

(I haven't read this cover to cover but I has more or less read his and Christina J. Hogans book cover to cover I thing and I've also bought a couple of copies of the above book to share.)

Summary of what I've learned and found useful from those and other resources:

Get someone to step in for you half the time. (If only to fill in a ticket or - in a real emergency: call you.)

Manage expectations. (You don't expect hard interrupts except for emergencies. )

Make support requests asynchronous. (Mail, support tickets - not calls. Even when you (or someone else) are available for real time support, - make chat the preferred option.

billybofh · 2016-03-05 · Original thread
You might prefer "Time Management for System Administrators" :

It's a little bit GTD-ish, but has a direct practical IT take on it without so much dwelling on terminology. Certainly changed the way I worked for the better.

billybofh · 2014-11-19 · Original thread
There's a really good O'Reilly book on this geared towards sysadmins (though I'm sure it applies to dev's etc).

Just following it for a short time made my work & life a whole, whole lot better.

Having a great Ops staff also helps ;) Of note is Thomas Limoncelli who wrote "The Practice of System and Network Administration" [1] and "Time Management for System Administrators" [2] works for Stack Exchange (formerly at Google). The Practice of System and Network Administration is basically the bible for most sysadmins, myself included.

ps. I only singled Thomas Limoncelli out as an example just to highlight the caliber of their Ops staff.



atsaloli · 2013-09-29 · Original thread
This sounds a lot like what Tom Limoncelli has been recommending in "Time Management for System Administrators"

It takes real discipline to implement but you get a better control of your life if you do.

nodata · 2010-11-29 · Original thread
Time Management for System Administrators By Thomas A. Limoncelli

esila · 2009-03-27 · Original thread
I'm really surprised that one has yet to mention this book / system - Time Management For System Administrators:

This is a wonderful system focusing on goals, priorities, proper breakdown of tasks, stress management, relaxation, maintaining focus, etc. It gives a wonderful breakdown of how to manage planners, and this system has been working for me for years now. Hope you find some value out of this!

But they probably do a better job of saving it for when they're talking with other doctors, rather than posting it on the internet where everyone can see it.

Also: Spending most of your time complaining about how stupid users are, etc., makes it a lot harder to empathize with them and not sound like a standoffish IT guy. (Most people are probably not as good at compartmentalizing as they believe.)

If memory serves, _Time Management for System Administrators_ ( has a good chapter about how to be helpful and reasonably polite with non-technical people when you're being constantly interrupted and the server closet is on fire (with an emphasis on little things that show you're actually trying to fix things and not just blowing people off, since many people won't necessarily recognize e.g. scowling at firewall logs as working on their problem).

"Frustration comedy" is a good term, by the way.

Fresh book recommendations delivered straight to your inbox every Thursday.