Open Source Computing and GIS in the UK

Travels in a digital world

Deckchairs on the Titanic

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This morning I took delivery (thanks to the nice people at Amazon UK) of Time Management for System Administrators from O’Reilly. I’m really looking forward to reading it, because I could do with something to help me deal with the many different calls upon my time at work. The trouble with being a sysadmin (in everything but name) AND working on GIS projects is that I find it difficult to focus on any one task when I am constantly being interrupted for assistance with Microsoft Word, printers, changing backup tapes, getting together deployment kits of computers and associated gear for remote sites, etc, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and it’s never dull, but I could do with some pointers on how to keep the plates spinning!

I have been a big fan of David Allen’s Getting Things Done approach for a year or so now, though I admit that I fall off the wagon occasionally! I’m still looking for the perfect To-Do list upon which to record all of my tasks though. I have been looking at the myriad online solutions, but what I want (no, need) is something that I can carry around and use offline on my zaurus pda. The browser on the zaurus is somewhat old-fashioned now (Opera 7.25) and it doesn’t really do all of this shiny ajaxy stuff very well, so I’ve been sticking with Ko/Pi, which is a platform independent version of Korganiser. I use that on a USB stick on my desktop, and synchronise it with the copy on the zaurus whenever I remember. At the very least I need to set it to synchronise automatically when I connect the zaurus to the desktop, but I’ve got a Windows XP machine at work, and a Mac Mini and a Fedora Core 4 Desktop at home, so I could do with something a little more slick.

Though, as I said, I do fall off the GTD-wagon occasionally, and have never managed (or needed?) to implement the whole system, I have incorporated several aspects of GTD into my work and home life. The idea of “Next Actions” (What is the very next thing you need to do to move this project forward?) and, following on from that, the “Two Minute Rule” (Can you do this Next Action in two minutes or less? If not, delegate or defer it) now seem absolutely fundamental. They don’t stop things piling up, or stop me procrastinating about a job because I can’t see the way forward, but at least I’m learning to recognise this state of mind and do something about it.

Back to Time Management for System Administrators though. The biggest area of frustration I have in my day to day work is not being able to see projects through to completion because so many other things have got in the way.I’m hoping that this book might give me some clues as to how to get the bigger things done as well as the little things. We’ll see, and I’ll keep posting on this subject. I’m off to FOSS4G 2006 in Lausanne on Monday so I’m hoping to get started with reading it on the journey to La Suisse.

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