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Time Management for System Administrators

Time Management for System Administrators contains useful advice for SysAdmins looking to use their time more effectively. If you are a techie who wonders why you get bogged down with little tasks while not getting your projects done, this is the book for you. If you don't have the time to read this book, you definitely need to read it.

This is a compact book, weighing in at around 200 pages. The size is appropriate for a book intended to help people with too little time. It is basically a pile of advice for those of us who are constantly fixing broken systems, answering user requests, attending meetings, and maybe sometimes actually working on our projects. Some of this advice you have probably figured out on your own, some you will find useful, and some you will disagree with. That's OK; take what you need and leave the rest.

The first chapter is in some ways the most valuable part of the book. It covers how to deal with interruptions, and lists some general principles of time management.

The book moves on to discuss various ways to maintain focus while working on tasks and projects, so that you actually get things done instead of responding to interruptions and destroying your concentration through multitasking. Then it recommends routines, so that you don't forget to do things and so that you don't need to worry about what to do. I have found the advice in these chapters to be useful.

The core of the book is "The Cycle" -- a system for managing your to-do items, appointments, calendar, and even long-term goals. I've been trying out parts of it, and have found that it has helped me avoid schedule conflicts, made me less likely to drop to-do items, and improved my follow-up. So far, it hasn't actually helped me get down to 40 work hours a week, although in all fairness, I'm not yet doing the full system.

The rest of the book discusses prioritization, email management (in particular, the principle of "touch once" -- which I have found to be an extremely effective way of dealing with email), time wasters, documentation (which is time management -- documentation helps you do things faster or delegate them to other people), and automation. Most of the advice here has been useful as well. My only complaint is that the discussion on shell scripting did not seem very useful -- if I didn't already know shell scripting, it would not have taught me much, or convinced me that I needed this skill for time management.

The book also contains advice on various topics that are somewhat tangential. Such topics include customer management, long-term goals, "managing your boss", stress management (which gets its own chapter), and personal time. While not directly related to the nominal purpose of the book, the points mostly seemed valid and useful.

On the whole, I'd say that this book is well worth its $25 asking price. I've known for a while that I have time management problems, so I once bought a different time management book, but never finished it; the other book seemed more oriented towards executives and managers. This book speaks to system administrators, and it does a good job. It's not a panacea -- to fix your time management problems, you not only need to know what the problems are, you also need to go to considerable effort to change your habits. But this book's advice has already helped me to improve my time management, and hopefully it will help you, too.

RSS Recent comments

21 Aug 2006 23:41 CollegeStudent

Getting Practical
Well it's nice to see an author take the tried and true pillars of time management and skin them for the IT field, rather than trying to create "a new paradigm" of your time (see hundreds of said books on Amazon). Got to make a time management book standout somehow, this was a good route.

04 Sep 2006 13:50 KatjaS

What to do with the saved time
It is very importent that you lern to say no in the right moment to the right people otherwise the saved time is gone.

Katja (

04 Oct 2006 10:45 Ramesh24

Re: Sounds like I could use this book.
I had a tough pattern as a solo sysad at my company and this book helped me a lot in organising my time. Thanks a lot Thomas for this book has given me a lot of time to work on the critical projects and still learn real good things. All the firefighting and customer drills apart this is one Definitive Guide if you want to go home Early and Smiling.

Guys get to read this informative video blog on SAN tutorials and jobs see the salaries and start managing your time well to get those big perks.

26 Nov 2006 14:02 JOBlogger

Great Christmas Gift
seems like a real cool book for sysadmins. i was looking for a christmas gift for my best friend, who is a sysadmin at a medium-sized company - and since he´s the only one there - i think it´d make a perfect present for him. thanks for the tip!

14 Dec 2006 03:01 b4rney

See the author
So here I am posting a comment on a time management book instead of working.

I found this excellent video ( of Thomas A. Limoncelli on google video talking about this book.


18 Dec 2006 04:13 Theimprover

Time Management Go Specific
Time management is one of the most important elements of self-improvement. I've been through many written materials on the subject, but this is the first time to hear about time management for a specific job. This sounds interesting.

15 Jan 2007 17:19 torson

Best book for timemanagement very recommended

13 Aug 2007 06:36 superhero776

Realy helpful
timemanagement is important to anyone. this book will help to manage time better - and have more spare time ;-)

24 Aug 2007 02:51 Marmelade

Time Management
Time managment is a commanding spot, great book.

11 Dec 2007 08:26 robibrk

Re: Sounds like I could use this book.
Good article! Here can you find more...

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05 Apr 2012 22:49 Avatar abnifty

I am also a writer who writes reviews about boat transport companies and I am amazed how you wrote this book review. The arrangement is well organized and I really like the structure on how you wrote this review.


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