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While I’ve read and really appreciate Tom Limoncelli‘s Time Management for System Administrators, the current state of my life (mainly that it’s split between work, personal projects, a freelance client, administering the systems of a the ambulance corps and real people, and that my “work day” is whenever I’m awake) has prevented me from really implementing most of the advice. However, I do try to be as productive as I can.

Without getting into details, a few weeks ago, $WORK suffered a major electrical failure that required everything in the data center to be powered down. This happened around 10:30 AM, and the majority of groups simply powered down their machines and left, planning to return around 2 AM (the estimated power restoration time). After getting our machines down and stopping for pizza, I remembered how much of a pain it was to work in the racks bringing everything down. While my group only has two racks, we’ve had a lot of changeover lately, and the cabling had gotten quote messy. Noting this, I mentioned it to my two higher-ups, remembering that we had a stock of assorted length patch cables. We were able to make an “emergency” run to our cable vendor and pick up a box of 1- 2- and 3-foot power cables.

While everyone else was home or in their offices dodging the pieces of falling sky (everything was down including VoIP and mail), we were the only group getting real productive work done in the data center. The power failure, rather than a catastrophic event, was a great opportunity - the only time we could pull every cable in a production rack and re-do all power and patches.

So, here’s my SA tip for the day - everyone has some big projects that they’d like to do, require downtime, but aren’t critical enough to schedule something. So, keep a list of these and have the parts on hand. Whether it’s a “just in case” hardware swap-out, re-patching, or anything else, eventually you (depending on the environment that you work in) might have one of those times when the solution to the problem is out of your hands and there’s nothing else to do. Use this time productively.


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