Schedule thoughts

rone asked how the Time Management for System Administrators book was. I've finished it and hence need to write a fully review, but this is a partial answer, plus a few things that I've been thinking about.

The short answer is that it was good enough, or came at the right time, to get me to start trying the techniques that it talks about. I've been looking for a better system of keeping track of what I need to do for quite a while, without a lot of success, but also without spending a lot of time looking at the major time management systems out there. All of them felt too large and complex and complicated from an outside look and ended up scaring me off.

This book has a simple system that he introduces in phases and makes it pretty easy to pick up bits of it. The core idea is that one has a daily to-do list, one spends time each morning prioritizing the list, doing time estimates, and pushing back to other days lower-priority tasks that don't fit into the day. Then, at the end of the day, anything that's not done gets moved to some other day. It's pretty simple, but just breaking up my to-do list over a bunch of days and being able to write something down that I want to do and give it a realistic time frame has been surprisingly effective so far.

I've only been trying this for three days, though. I'm going to try it for three weeks and then evaluate how well it's working for me. Unless I use it for three weeks whether it feels like it's working or not, I won't be giving it enough of a chance to build new habits.

A few other things I've noticed:

Pushing things you haven't finished back to the next day has a tendency to create this bulldozer effect where each day's to-do list gets longer and longer. I think I can see a few ways of dealing with that, but it will require some attention.

The biggest win I've gotten so far is reapplying an old change that I tried a long time back and didn't make stick. There is important e-mail and not important e-mail. Important e-mail, like work mailing lists, I do need to read all day. Unimportant e-mail, like technical mailing lists I follow, does not need to be read all day. I am obsessive about reading unread mail, which means that if I have all of my Gnus topics open during the day, I spend a lot of time checking for new mail and reading the small handful of messages that have come in. I've gone back to closing all topics except the important ones and reading that mail in batch, once per day, in the evening. This works much better.

One of the reasons why I couldn't stick to that before is that I'd finish something, be at a loss for what to do next, and start reading just a little mail while I thought. Of course, a little would turn into a lot. Having a concrete to-do list for the day makes it far more likely that I'll just start the next task. I don't have to think about what to do next; I have it written down.

Also, new matra to keep repeating to myself: Usenet is a social hobby. I have no obligation to read Usenet messages. If I'm not enjoying participating in a Usenet thread, I should simply stop. It doesn't matter what other people think of my opinions on Usenet; nothing I'm talking about there is important enough to get into an argument, or continue an argument, about it. If someone on Usenet persistantly pisses me off, I should killfile them and never look back. There are too many interesting, fun people in the world to waste my time on assholes who may or may not stop being assholes if I talk to them long enough. I do not need to read other people's technical opinions on Usenet; I have a multitude of other, far higher-quality, far higher-signal sources to get technical information. As soon as it stops being fun, stop, cut my losses, and move on. The same applies to all social mailing lists. (For whatever reason, I don't have this problem on LJ.)

That's the quick snapshot. Tomorrow, I have a good-sized pile of work to go through, and now it's time to walk and then read. More book reviews hopefully coming soon; I'm building up a backlog.

Posted: 2006-03-08 21:12 — Why no comments?

Hmm, i commented to the syndicated feed on LJ, mostly so i could use an LJ tag. I know, lame. I'll be doubly lame by repeating my comment here:

I think you won't mind if i pass this review along to [info]yesthattom, will you? It sounds like i could use a copy of the book myself, but i find myself skeptical that i'll actually put its advice into practice...

I've been killing threads in The Other Place with great vigor.

Posted by rone at 2006-03-09 21:37

Yeah, the annoying part about the LJ syndication is that I don't get any notification of responses. Of course, here, you don't get any notification of responses. So they both suck. *heh*

I responded there so that you'll get the notification, and here for the record: Sure, go for it. Anything I put in my journal is completely public as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by eagle at 2006-03-09 22:27

Last spun 2013-07-01 from thread modified 2013-01-04