routine Though the term routine has a bad reputation, and in some lines of work it is bad, law enforcement for one, having a routine as a System or Network Administrator is not bad at all. You want to have projects completed on time, appointments scheduled kept and things running as smoothly as possible. Routines can be boring at times, but in our field, boredom comes rarely.

Having a good routine can save you work as well as reduce the time spent making decisions. Routines can give you a way of "thinking once and doing many" in regards to your tasks. It is important to develop a routine. Some examples are by using an organizer to record appointments and your to-do lists, then always have your organizer with you.

By having routines you can use less of your brainpower and put more of your efforts into the small matters. Take opportunities to create your own routine. Part of your routine should be staying current with the latest technology news. Schedule yourself time to read the latest news that is pertinent to your career.

Routine Examples

Here are a few routines that may help organize your day and save you a headache or two. These of course are just examples and you can follow them or not or vary them based on your particular needs.

Routine Example #1 - Your personal organizer and or your calendar.

Have an organizer and or calendar, (this should go without saying,) and always have it at your disposal. Whether you use a notebook or an electronic organizer, keep it with you to remind you of commitments and other important things that you should not forget. Now days you can have all of this on a smart phone. This should make it simple to never forget it, unless you are in the habit of forgetting your phone.

Routine Example #2 - Have regular meetings with your boss.

Setup a time to have an informal chat with your boss. You can cover the small things during these meetings and keep each other abreast of what is going on, work wise. These meetings can be brief, anywhere from five to ten minutes and if scheduled should make both of your jobs easier to accomplish.

Routine Example #3 - Meeting with staff and co-workers.

Usually, just a brief work related conversation with fellow co-workers can prove beneficial. You can discuss what has come to light while you were off and vice versa.

Routine Example #4 - Checking in with clients.

If your job involves clients that you deal with on a weekly or even daily basis, take some time to touch base with them and find out if they have any concerns that you should be aware of. This shows a pro-active attitude instead of a reactive attitude and lets your clients know you are on top of things for them.

If you find that they have an issue, this gives you three options that shows your clients that they are important. The three options you have are:

  • Fix: If the problem or concern is easy to fix, go ahead and fix it for them immediately.
  • Redirect: If the problem is not fixable at the time you make contact, redirect them to the proper department, or better yet, take that step for them and assure, (and do it) that you will have the proper person or department contact them ASAP to address their concerns. Again, and most importantly, DO IT!
  • Sympathize: Many times a client will want something that simply cannot be done. This can be a problem that can't be fixed immediately or even for a period of time. This is the best time to sympathize with your client, but do it without being condescending. Agreeing with the client that the service should be better than what they are getting sounds fine, but only if what the client expects is not outside the scope of service provided. If the problem is something that cannot be found easily, if there is indeed a solution, reassure your client by telling them that this issue may take some time to research and if there is a solution, (and even if there is not,) they will be kept in the loop and informed. Again, not all talk here, do it.

Data Back-Ups

Whether or not you still use tape backups, it is important to schedule a routine on backing up your data. Most of the time these backups can be automatically scheduled, but if you are using tape, you still need to schedule a time to change out your back-up tapes.

Communicate with Management, (and Clients) During Outages

Having a network outage is troubling enough, but without the proper communication between you and management will just intensify the problem.

A lot of times management feels that they should be aware of the problem, and they are correct in feeling this way. Then the system administrators feel that they should just be left alone so that they can focus on what the cause of the outage is and fixing the problem. They are right feeling this way as well. There should be a balance of the both. Management should be notified and kept abreast of the status of the outage but should not interfere with the network personnel working to resolve the problem.

Additionally, if your company has a way to notify its clients, do so. If your company has a call center, place a front-end message on the system so that when your clients or customers call in to report they cannot access the Internet, (or whatever service you are providing them,) they can be informed immediately. There is nothing more frustrating to wade through a automated menu system, being placed on hold for an extended period of time only to find out that there is a known outage and that your technicians are "hard at work" to resolve the problem.

Automated Checks for Certain Functions

Here are some ideas for checks when performing some routine tasks.

  • Secure Rooms: If you enter a secure room, put your keys or access card back into your pocket immediately. This prevents leaving it in the room when you leave. When you leave a secure room, make sure that it is secure upon your departure.
  • Check Air Flow: If around equipment that needs to be adequately ventilated, make sure it is getting the necessary air flow it needs. Check for cables or wires that could be restricting air flow.
  • Meet New Hires: Whenever there is a new hire in your department, make it a point to greet them and to introduce yourself. Welcome them to the company and to the department. This should extend, if possible, to any new hire in the company, but this isn't always possible. Having you visit during the new hire orientation may be a way of meeting all of the new hires at one time and explaining your role and how you are there to assist them.
  • Greet people you don't know: If you see someone in an area that may be secured or restricted, greet them, (with a smile) and introduce yourself. If they do not have a visible ID showing, politely ask to see it and tell them, after they have introduced themselves, that this helps you remember their name, but at the same time it is a way you can check to see if the person is actually authorized to be where they are.
  • Back-up Before You Edit: Have you ever made a change to a file or some other data only to find out that the change went horribly wrong and there was no way to go back to the file prior to the change? There is an easy way to prevent this catastrophe; back up your data before you make any changes. Simple as that. This way, if something does go horribly wrong, you can always restore the previous version of the file you were working on.

Develop Your Own Routines

The previous are of course just example routines. Here are some things you can look for in your day-to-day work, (or life) that can be turned into your own routines.

Repeated Events

Perhaps there are tasks or meetings that you repeat several times a week or moth but are not scheduled. Scheduling these events in advance would be beneficial over trying to schedule them at the last minute. Propose either a regular time and day or a series of dates and times and get all to agree up front with this schedule.

Maintenance Tasks

Some tasks in I.T. are not easily, if possible, to complete at one time; they need to be carefully worked upon over a period of time. If you have a task that requires some time, set a goal to work on it a little bit each day until the task is complete. Some maintenance tasks are ongoing. If these tasks will need repeated, do a few a day and keep a log as to what has been done. Slowly, each day you will cycle through these tasks and once complete, restart the cycle again.

Handling Procrastination

If you find that you are thinking about a task that needs to be done instead of just doing it, quit thinking and do it. This should not be confused with the thinking that is required to complete the task.

Things Easily Forgotten

If you ever find yourself in a bind because you forgot something, wallet, cell phone, etc., prevent this from happening by developing a routine as you place these items each day so that when you leave you will always remember to have them. If you have to remember to take something with you that you normally don't take, put a note on the door that you leave by just to remind yourself to take that item.

Don't Skip Low-Priority Tasks

If you have some tasks that are low priority that can easily be put off or skipped for a while, don't put them off until later. Go ahead and take care of these tasks and get them out of the way. This way you don't suddenly find that you have many "low-priority" tasks that are suddenly due at the same time.

Develop New Skills

Don't just rely on the skills that you already possess. Go out and develop new skills. Many people say that they don't have time for training, however if you schedule training for yourself, you might just find out that you do have time for that extra skill set to be learned. You just have to make it happen.

Keep Your Current Skills Up-To-Date

Just because you have learned skills does not mean that you don't have to keep up with them. Every skill set is evolving, growing as technology improves. Keeping your skill sets up to date is important if you want to stay current and give you the advantage of those who have let their skill sets lapse.

Delete Old, Unused Routines

If you find that some of your routines have become out of date and no longer used, delete them from your organizer. It is better to purge these old routines than to keep them cluttering up your organizer and your time.