RE: how do you manage your project list

From: Herring, David <>
Date: Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:42:32 -0600
Message-ID: <>


I've found that the more complex the system, the less likely I'll keep using it/the more it slows me down:

  • I use Outlook to manage a lot of what I am working on. So day-to-day issues, emergencies, etc. stay in my Inbox. Once I'm done I file the email.
  • In terms of filing the emails, a long time ago I thought it'd be good to have separate folders for subjects but that became too complex. I started questioning where an email should go when it crossed multiple subjects. Now I just have saved "Inbox" and "Sent" folders. Those are stored locally in archive folders in 3 year ranges. I'm probably just like everyone else, getting about 200 non-automated emails a day so the saved volume grows quickly.
  • For projects I keep a simple Word doc to prioritize them. I've tried different tools but I keep going back to Word because I need some method to easily add any type of additional info and have it formatted how I like it. Priorities change VERY frequently and I get called into emergencies all the time, so I've got to have something I can quickly update with minimal rules to remember.
  • Since I've maintained DBA doc for the past few companies I've been with, I have a saved set of Word styles I always use. These styles help organize what I type in ("help" for me, since I use the same styles). Any new issue that comes up and will seem to need notes as I progress in the investigation gets a new Word doc. I may save it eventually or just dump it but the doc serves as a place holder until I'm done. Like everyone else, I get interrupted all the time and need to remember where I left off.

Dave Herring

From: [] On Behalf Of Jeff C Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 2:17 PM To: Jeremy Schneider
Cc:; Oscar Ofiana; Subject: Re: how do you manage your project list

Great feedback Jeremy.
What types of systems/tools/programs does everybody use to keep track for tasks/projects/todo's?  Do you just use pen and paper, Outlook Calendar or Tasks, Flag email items,or something else or all of the above which gets chaotic  
We use Axosoft at my company. The dba's are part of the programmer team so I have to use their tool.  It's an alright system but I also find my self writing little to do's on paper throughout the week.  Do you put everything little task into a system to keep track?  That can get very tedious so I don't do it but probably should

On Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 4:13 AM, Jeremy Schneider <> wrote: great list karl.  i used rescuetime a long time ago and it's a great tool, but for the past few years i've been a bit more enthusiastic about toggl.  it's definitely my new favorite for time tracking.

however recently i had a few situations where there may have been sensitive information exposed in my task lists, so i went looking for a solution that didn't store the data in the cloud.  found manictime and i absolutely love it so far!  i don't use the auto-task tracking though, i generally work off tags only.  it gives a much nicer interface than rescuetime or toggl to see what i was doing when i go a few hours without logging activities and i need to reverse engineer my time.  :)  only downside is that i would need to buy it for $67 in order to do everything that i do in toggl for free.  also it only supports windows, and while i'm mainly working with windows right now i tend to use my linux desktop a lot too.

i agree 200% about the need for (1) system and (2) instrumentation. although i would add a few additional notes...

you've gotta have flexibility as months and years pass; the way you categorize things might change.  and i've personally had general ups and downs in productivity influenced by things outside of work (like being up all night with a baby <g>).  i'll have a months where i'm churning stuff out constantly and other months where i'm just trying to stay on task and not space out.

so you need room to not take it too seriously at times.  personally i really like having my instrumentation be for just me (not my manager or team)... it can work as a team tool but you really need to have a larger conversation about expectations because tracking can really add a lot of stress otherwise.  nobody can sustain 100% efficiency for 100% of the time over years and years.  but i love having a personal dashboard just so i can *know* how productive (or not) i have been over the past few days/weeks/months.

anyway - this is a GREAT topic that i'm very interested in and pretty enthusiastic about!


On Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 1:21 AM, Karl Arao <> wrote:
> I would start with Tom Limoncelli's Time Management for System
> Administrators, he's got a video presentation here
> that became the foundation on how I
> manage my tasks
> Personally I have Goal, Habit, Task, Time Trackers
> And there are two parts to this: having a system that works for you and
> being able to instrument that
> 1) you have to have a system on setting your goals and prioritizing your
> tasks, and this one is a great response from quora
> now I'm using mindmaps for goal setting and for task
> management which I really like because you can specify swimlanes+colors
> which makes it kind multidimensional than just a regular calendar
> before I just use google calendar for tasks and "goals on track" for
> goal/habit tracker but I unsubscribed and migrated the entire workflow to
> mindmaps (I use freemind)
> 2) you have to have a way of instrumenting your time
> on my windows VM where I do all my work I have ManicTime installed and this
> enables me to track everything I'm doing.. automatically without any user
> input and it can auto tag applications let's say if I open putty the time I
> spent on that app will be tagged as "Work", and I can see where my time went
> just by graphing the data
> on my mac I have this free version of RescueTime, I like the weekly
> productivity percentage being emailed every week usually I'm about 68% per
> week.. If I go below, that means I'm pretty lazy that week. Above that means
> I was pretty busy
> kanbanflow on the other hand forces you to input your tasks + the
> corresponding time you spent on it. So what I would do is at the end of the
> day I would export the data and graph it on my tableau dashboard. I just
> need to open the dashboard I created and it will automatically read the new
> file and it looks like this
> on that link
> you'll see the entire workflow I have for task management up to
> visualization
> Some of these may not work for you, but at least you'll get the high level
> idea. So a couple of years back early on my career I was learning and coming
> up with my own systems and using these tools, through the years I'm also
> improving and hacking it and up until now that helps me getting things done
> (GTD) and motivated.
> -Karl
> On Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 6:28 PM, Oscar Ofiana <> wrote:
>> Hi Jeff,
>> Have you checked out Randy Pausch's Time Management lecture? Some of the
>> ideas presented in it can be a little too detailed and time-consuming, but
>> the most helpful idea I picked up on was making the TODO quadrant, where you
>> seperate and prioritize tasks into:
>> 1 - Urgent and important
>> 2 - Important but not urgent
>> 3 - Urgent, not important
>> 4 - Not urgent, not important.
>> Just having this grid on a post-it or on a pin-up board by my monitor
>> really helped to provide a general map of my tasks and what/when it needed
>> to be done.
>> Hth,
>> Oscar
>> On Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 11:07 AM, Jeff C <> wrote:
>>> Fellow DBA's,
>>> How do you manage your work load? I am not taking database work load but
>>> your project list.  I don't know about you but I have my projects that I
>>> need to get done but I also constantly get interrupted by other developers
>>> asking questions, needing help with a query performance, or they mention
>>> some data they need from another database and I have to decided what is the
>>> best way to approach it.  I rarely get my projects worked on.
>>> Do you have some system or tool you use to keep your head straight?  I
>>> used to be the multitasker master but after 10 years and the growth of our
>>> environment, that is not easy anymore.
>>> Looking for any tips anybody might have.
>>> Thank you
> --
> Karl Arao
> Blog:
> Wiki:
> Twitter: @karlarao

i0zX+n{+i^ Received on Sun Dec 21 2014 - 16:42:32 CET

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