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

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  893 ratings  ·  71 reviews
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 pr ...more
Paperback, 228 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by O'Reilly Media (first published January 1st 2005)
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Mar 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people interested in GTD systems
Shelves: gtd-productivity
This is one of the first books I put on my SafariBooksOnline account back in 2006.

I'm known as a bit of a "GTD fanatic". Not because I'm so organized and methodical, but rather because I'm a mess and always looking for better ways to contain the disarray. I must read 2 or 3 books a year (even after this book) regarding organization and time management but, this is the one and only book I keep coming back to that has methods that work.. for me.

I loved the concepts and overall organization strateg
Khánh Nguyễn Hoàng Việt
Some nice insights for people who working as a SysAdmin
- our job is providing service
- build a habit
- prioritized our tasks
- fighting interruptions
- make computers our friends
- automation everywhere
- take time for self

Definitely read it again
Juraj Martinka
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing and super practical book.

It's still very relevant (even more) today and applicable to all sorts of people working in software, not just sysadmins - Developers, SREs, Tech Leads, and Engineering Managers will all benefit from reading this concise treatment of various aspects of time management at work; and you will learn how to apply it to your personal stuff too.

The Cycle system is pretty useful and even if you don't apply it fully and invent your own system (as I did) you can
Jan 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
My resolution this year was to get better organized and make more effective use of my time (aka getting better at life). This book was chock full of common sense for this goal. He touched on many habits I currently have, connecting them with the reason I'd developed them and placed them in a larger framework for being a better sysadmin. He also augmented the stereotypical, "get a planner and use it" advice with many tasks specific to my profession (maintaining documentation, managing ticket queu ...more
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tech, productivity
There's definitely a big chunk of this which is dated, but I really liked the core time management part ("The Cycle").

The dated part includes such nuggets as the fact that there is a service called "Netflix" which can send me DVDs by post, and an introduction to the strange and foreign concept of the "wiki". :)

The real core of the book is up to chapter 8, with the first 4 acting as a kind of gentle intro. 9-13 I mostly skipped, finding them pretty outdated or basic.

Lastly, I'm a programmer rathe
Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great ideas in this book. Now comes the hard part: implementation (though I've already seen a positive influence in my work life just through an initial reading). I'm sure I'll be reviewing this book frequently.

Better than GTD; I've tried that system for years, but it's overly complex and not really as flexible as it purports to be.
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent take on time management with the very specific use cases that render the arguments palatable to the type of character who finds himself in IT operations. I should have read this in 2006. I especially enjoyed the epilogue.

Two quibbles. Firstly, laundry and cleaning aren’t time wasters, but necessities, like changing the backup tape. Those tasks can be delegated, but you should understand that is what is being done—do not just assume that Someone Else will clean up your mess. His sugg
Rose Lerner
Nov 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is changing my life as we speak. I'm not a system administrator but I think the advice is great for anyone who does self-directed work (for me, writing). It's very straightforward, practical advice. I highly, highly recommend it. ...more
Jan 26, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021
As a department head, I've wound up implementing a hybrid model for how I run things. I've adapted several things from Gino Wickman's Traction for running meetings, scoping projects, and defining metrics, but in terms of other day-to-day stuff I've borrowed from Thomas Limoncelli's Time Management for System Administrators.

The embarrassing thing is I first started reading this book at my last job (circa 2013) because of the issues that I had with the day-to-day headaches and interruption that te
Apr 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help, it
This book is old, and it shows. From PDAs to explaining Wikis like they are a new concept, to SVN and RCS. However, the system is great and Thomas outlines a system useful to me.

I decided to read this book instead of re-reading GTD and I don't regret it. GTD is fantastic and the basis of my system, but this book was a much quicker review of a similar (or GTD-compatible in my opinion) system with discussions of things directly related to my career path.

Someone in another review mentioned a crude
Marc Perry
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In my opinion, this is truly an excellent book whose title happens to sound a little bit ho-hum. In terms of productivity pr0n (is that how it's spelled, with the R and the O swapped, and replacing the O with a zero?) I found this book more useful, in a practical sense than the holy trinity of productivity books: "Getting Things Done", "Eat That Frog", and "The Now Habit." This has been my bible for the past two years. If you struggle with prioritization and procrastination, I urge you to read t ...more
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
My job has a lot of "OMG DO THIS NAOW!!1!" things that come up. I also have many meetings. And on top of all that, I need to work towards long-term projects. While I'm not a true Sys Admin and so didn't get a lot out of the very last chapter of the book, there's still a great deal of good information. Many of the concepts are the same as the GTD school of time management, but it includes building time into your day for interruptions.

Worth reading.
Arian Muharremi
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book has some interesting ideas. Make sure to write down what you find useful for your situation. As you move through the positions and responsibilities, you may need to re-read the book.

I recommend it not only to SAs but to anyone who has do work with clients (users). It is intended for SAs but some lessons can be applied in different fields as well.
Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is is Outdated.... it really is outdated.

So the first half is pretty fine. Gives an exmple of clever methods to practice to become more focused with your work. The latter half is only relevant for its ideas as it is spending time on systems and platforms that are not that common anymore.

Liked the style and light attitude the author had.
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fantastic book, should be standard content for any newer engineer, and a good refresher for seasoned one. Needs a new revision perhaps as PDAs have been very much replaced, and some of the references to websites/applications are out of date.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
While some parts of the book are out-dated (Netflix being mostly DVD renting company, whoa), I find this book really helpful. It might contain things "everybody knows", but structured, explained and with real-life examples.
I needed to read it and now I need to adapt it to my routines.
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Though the title sounds like a gimmick, this actually a very insightful and well thought-out book. Limoncelli's attitude (which I agree with) is that a sysadmin should be turning chaos into routine, and routine into automation. ...more
Jing Fu
Jul 01, 2020 rated it liked it
I don't think I've got a ton from this book. My expectation was high, but the framework in the book is quite simplistic, and the tools used in this book is severely outdated thus not super applicable. ...more
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lots of good ideas for time management for IT people. One I should likely reread.
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Although some chapters may seem a bit outdated it is quite decent book and philosophies can be applied today as well. Just replace outdated things with _new_thing_here_.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it
A lot of the commentary and anecdotes in this book have not aged well, but the core of the book provides a decent primer and principles for GTD using "The Cycle". ...more
Võ Khánh
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
also nice for a non-tech. Some skills can apply for any subject
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-for-work
Good for people working in flexible environments an tech managers. I'm not a system administrator but I manage devs and work with ops and found this relevant to my work. ...more
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Author is magnificent in exhibiting his knowledge and experience as a great sysadmin. 80% of what I do, is based on this book at my current role as a sysadmin.
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book. from the same author of "The Practice of System and Network Administration". Lovely! ...more
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Still practicing, But I really like the idea to use a PAA / PDA. Creating a todo list. Helps in planning the day also provide a very useful way to figure out how busy the day is.
Lewis Denham-Parry
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lessons have aged well over the 15 years and found it interesting how parts have cycled since the books initial release.
André Santos
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was specially helpful for me because the examples provided are easy to relate as an application engineer. Looking forward to test The Cycle.
Michael Nelson
May 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Good ideas, hard to stick to but if you do they work wonders.
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