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I'm thinking about getting this book for our sysadmins to help them deal with the constant interrupt nature of their jobs. What's your take on the book?

Do you have any other recommendations on time management for sysadmins that the book doesn't cover adequately?


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closed as primarily opinion-based by Michael Hampton Aug 29 '13 at 19:02

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Be careful not to appear patronising (unless that is your intention) or otherwise disingenuous when handing over such a book. Also, if they are being interrupted too much, they might not find time to read it! – David Spillett Jul 29 '09 at 20:34
I recommend war and peace in hardback... they may or may not read it, but throwing it at a few of the "interruptions" will generally mean they have more time for their work :-p – RascalKing Jul 29 '09 at 21:00
I agree with the comment on not seeming patronizing - definitely not my intention. – Even Mien Jul 30 '09 at 13:28
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I think it's a great book for a medium or large-sized company where there is some task sharing. If each admin is very specialized and can't handle being a buffer for anyone else, it's going to be harder to organize.

Sole/lone admins will find a good chunk of the book hard to implement just because then it's harder to manage interrupt vs project time. Overworked admins may get some level of relief, but if there's more work than time, it almost makes it worse to stare at your constantly growing lists because of the importance placed on arranging them.

I don't know of any other books that feel like they're speaking to "us" instead of more general time management and I don't regret buying it, even if I find it's hard to get going with certain parts.

+1 for the difference between standalone sysadmins and medium to large infrastructure admins. Still a great book, even though I couldn't take all of the advice – Matt Simmons Jul 29 '09 at 21:51
the only context in which I've seen it is in a small org - one primary sysadmin, with interns as available – warren Nov 27 '09 at 16:06

I have given David Allen's Getting Things Done to our admins before. I found it to be highly useful as an admin as you tend to have many simultaneous tasks and projects along with the interruptions throughout the day.

GTD Cover

I'm currently reading through this book... I'm about 60 pages in and it's great so far. However, I just can't stand looking at the cover! I feel like the biggest tool when I leave it laying out on my desk :-) – Pete Jul 29 '09 at 21:51

I love the book; for me it worked well because of it's size. Thin enough to carry in my laptop bag and read on the 20 minute bus ride, and it being small in stature didn't fill me with the sense of dread, like "Good lord, how am I going to get through 400 pages of you-better-figure-out-how-to-do-this-yesterday."

Some of the tips I've heard in other places/publications, but this book's wording has stuck with me for a few of the tips and have found a place in my daily thought process. I have no complaints here, I'd say go for it.

I completely agree. It's a good size (both in dimensions and page count) and when I'm working on something and feeling overloaded, I often recall specific things mentioned in it. – David Jul 30 '09 at 0:57

First Things First by Covey was good for me.... isolating tasks into the 2D grid of 'important (or not)' and 'urgent (or not)' was insightful.

Some of the urgent 'feeling' stuff is just not important.

'The Seven Habit of Highly Effective People' includes this as well. I never read this follow-up, though. – Even Mien Jul 30 '09 at 13:30

If your sysadmins are being constantly interrupted perhaps you should look at the reasons behind those interruptions. Perhaps what they really need is a "Do not disturb" sign.

I think the reason is the lusers :) – Even Mien Jul 30 '09 at 13:31

I read the book, and I think it is a pretty great companion to the GTD books, however I'm not sure it is really worth the cost if they already have/use the GTD system. If they don't, it would be a great gift as it is a more gentle introduction to organization than GTD, and it also provides some great tips directly related to IT.


I think it's a great book to SKIM - I personally wouldn't buy it as a gift for anyone, but rather put in the sysadmin library - and tell folks that it's available.

For people who want to improve themselves, they'll pick it up and skim/read it as and when they want.

For folks who have no motivation, nothing can force them to do it.


I'd highly recommend it. There's helpful material there if you're a single sysadmin or one of a team. As well as giving your admins an easier time, it should help them deliver a better service to you.

There's also a video of Limoncelli presenting some of the concepts in the book here: if you want to get a feel for it.


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