DBA and the end of time management

05 July,2011 by Jack Vamvas

Time management, Parkinsons Law and the Pareto Principle  make up this post.

 I’ve just finished reading “The 4-hour work week” by Timothy Ferriss. It arrived as a birthday present from my children  . Were they trying to tell me something??

 I work as a DBA full-time . Managing my time – in trying to : a)  performance tuning  database servers b)  learning c)  training  d)  having a life  ,  is a juggling act.

I’ve tried many time management systems. How to squeeze that extra task out of an already busy day. One of the chapters is titled “The End of Time Management” . It outlines a variation on the theme of time management.

 It is worth reading the entire chapter. The ideas are not new , they’ve been articulated by many authors, but he finds a clear way of describing the main issues.

 I’ve outlined the important points , as they relate to my work as a DBA. Some of these points may resonate with you , and motivate to rethink how you spend your professional time.

 1)  Forget about time management , using the “results-by-volume” approach

 2)  Efficiency is limited , if not combined with effectiveness. Is what you are doing an effective task?

 3)  “Doing something unimportant well does not make it important” (quote p.70)

 4)  “Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important” (quote p.70.)

 5)  Pareto and the 80/20 principle. Which 20% of effort is giving me 80% of the results? Which 80% of effort is giving me 20% of results?  Apply the analysis regularly

 6)  “Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing”

 7)  Parkinsons Law , defined by Cyril Northcote Parkinson , as :

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” .

Applied in the IT world  as :

“Data expands to fill the space available for storage”.

“The amount of time which one has to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete the task”

8)Parkinsons Law and the 80/20 principle :

a)”Limit tasks to the important to shorten work time” (80/20)

b)”Shorten work time to limit tasks to the important”  (Parkinsons Law)

 In practical terms for the DBA what does it mean?

 1)  Create a to-do list

2)  Create a not-to-do-list

3)  If you had less hours in the day , what critical tasks would you complete?

4)  What activities do you use as time-fillers?

In reality , working as a Production SQL Server DBA  is very demanding  and requires dealing with emergencies. These cannot be planned. Prioritising the tasks and ensuring sufficient resources are  available , is a good step forward.

 I’d like to hear from other DBAs  about similar ideas.

Time management 

 Read More

SQL Server DBA Top 10 automation tasks

SQL Server – DBA productivity and less is more



Author: Jack Vamvas (http://www.sqlserver-dba.com)


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