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Feeling overwhelmed...

By thamilton ·
This is my first sysadmin job and for the last 6 months (my first 6 months) I have been feeling extremely overwhelmed. I am the only IT person here and I am responsible for everything! Im fortunate to have landed such a great job but it is very difficult for me to focus on one thing at a time. Im getting my BA in Information Systems Security but at the same time I actually enjoy working with people and helping them.

As a budding sysadmin, how can I make my days more productive as an admin but still be available as the sole support role?

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by JamesRL In reply to Feeling overwhelmed...

You can'gt do everything at once. You have to focus on a few tasks at a time and give them full attention.

First off, you probably can divide your tasks into 2 types - projects (one time unique deliverables) and maintenance(ongoing activities).

Figure out how much time you need to keep the ship floating (maintenance) and how much you can afford to spend on projects. Then book specific time to work on projects, the rest being maintenance.

Prioritise the maintenance tasks. Know what demands immediate attention, what can wait for days or weeks. Do not let things interrupt your project time unless its an emergency.

Then prioritize your projects. What you need to look for is "low hanging fruit". What can you do that has the biggest impact for the smallest effort - do that first. Look for things that help eliminate/reduce/automate some of your maintenance work.

Thats only a start.

Hope that helps.


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In addition To James' excellent advice

by TonytheTiger In reply to Feeling overwhelmed...

You might consider enlisting the aid of some of the more savvy users to help with some of the less savvy users. On a volunteer basis, of course.

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My 2 cents worth

by AV . In reply to Feeling overwhelmed...

I'm a one person sysadmin for about 50 users and can relate to your overwhelmed feeling. I felt like that in the beginning. I wasn't prepared for the unique challenges a one person IT department faces.

I've been doing this for over 10 years and have learned that your Admin work has to come first unless it is a dire emergency. The first thing I do every morning is check all logs, etc. Then I work on my most important projects. If users need me during this time, I offer to help them with their problem after I finish my Admin work, unless it is an emergency.

User support is tricky in a one person office. Everyone has their own IT agenda, and you are always part of it. It can take up all your time if you let it. Be firm. I always try to do remote or telephone support first. If you have to go to their desk to help, don't sit down. You're there to teach them, not do it for them.

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Yep, and here are more ideas

by mdhealy In reply to My 2 cents worth

I agree with AmericanVoter about prioritization and remote support, and with a previous poster about enlisting other staff as volunteers to help with basic support. Here are more suggestions:

1. If you don't have remote-access software such as VNC or Timbuktu installed on your clients' computers, you should consider installing it. At my workplace we use this a LOT, and it's a great timesaver: for administering a server remotely, for fixing a user's problem, and especially for demonstrating something to a user. Having the user watch you do the steps by remote control can be MUCH more helpful than trying to explain over the phone!

2. There are probably questions you get asked again and again, so you should assemble some FAQ documents and put them somewhere on the internal web site.

3. There are programs that let you capture a video clip of something you do on screen, then record an audio sound track; we find this VERY helpful in training users. We record a video with narration of how to do some task, and make that available on an intranet site. Then when a user asks how to do that task, we can simply point him or her at the video demonstration.

4. Sometimes a formal training session is the best way of getting people up to speed.

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NetSupport saved me!

by hyposave In reply to Yep, and here are more id ...

I was in a similar situation as you are. I worked as a sysadmin for a school, and ever since I convinced the school administration to install NetSupport my work has been a breeze. Its got silent deployment features and very powerful remote control ability. It lets the users send help request to me, and most of the time I don;t even need to leave my desk.

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I'm in the same situation, but worse

by cpierson88 In reply to My 2 cents worth

I admire that you've been doing this for 10 years. I, too, working for a consultant company and is assigned to one of their client to become that client's one man IT. I am dealing with 90+ workstations for public use (it's a library) and 50+ for staff use plus all the servers, firebox and others. I've been working there for a little bit over two years and feel that I'm ready to retire from this place or 200% ready for other admin job with much less responsibility and more rewards.

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General thoughts on IT Mgmt

by JP_The_IT_Guy In reply to Feeling overwhelmed...

I've been doing this for a few years, and though my current situtation is different than most (we have 2x as many servers as we do users) here's some things that I think will help just about anyone.

1. Know what your business is. For example, I interned for a home builder years ago. The department manager asked me what we did, and I said keep the computers working. He replied that no, we sell homes and in order to sell home, we have to keep the computers working. Most important lesson in I.T.: I.T. is a means to the business's end. Make sure you understand what is necessary to make the business function. This should help prioritize tasks as well.

2. Report weekly - Create a weekly report. Make the target audience your immediate supervisor, and their immediate supervisor. Since they are likely to be non-technical, a significant amount of the report is explaining why the technical thing are important. Make sure that you have at least three major sections, and break each one up into smaller sections:

A. Operations Recap - Summarize the current state of the technology, report on any significant events (>2hrs of your attention could be an indicator of significance) from the past week. This must include the status of the backups and focus of ongoing maintenance activities, the most non-glamourous parts of the job.

B. Strategic Notes - This is a "parking lot" in which to record you strategic throughts about technology and notes from any training or conferences that you go to. This section can be nearly blank most weeks. It is good to have designated time for this and to have a channel by which to funnel some of these thoughts & considerations to the owners.

C. Prioritized task list - This should be an ordered list of what you are working on, both maintenance & projects. I use it so that my boss can adjust my priorities, if necessary. I also split it up into four sections: Hot, Warm, Cold, and Closed. Warm and Cold items are longer term task that won't get moved up to Hot until I'm ready to focus on them. The hot tasks are the 7 to 12 things that I will definitely spend time on in the comming week. The closed one is where I've recorded resolutions and can denote progress.

3. Manage yourself - The weekly report is a tool which can be very helpful for keeping focus. Closing your email for a few hours out of the day can also be helpful. Schedule specific blocks of time for doing things, such as: 8-9, check backups/batch process results, review task list (pick 3 to close out); 9-10, check emails; 11-noon, visit users & work on desktop issues; 1-4, user issues, meetings, project work; 4-5, document work done, plan for tomorrow.

That weekly report can really transform the way you work as you spend 2 to 3 hours a week (4 to 5 initially) thinking about what you have been doing and prioritizing your activities for the next week. After a couple of months, you'll be able to complete them within a couple of hours. After 6 months or so, you will really start to see the investment paying off as you have captured your productivity on paper. When it is time for you review, you'll have a very compelling case for the value that you are providing to the organizion.

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Great replies

by thamilton In reply to General thoughts on IT Mg ...

Thx everyone! I really appreciate all of the replies. I know that if I can just a few hours to myself each day, I can prioritise and organize my days much better. Thx again!

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Very good, JP

by AV . In reply to General thoughts on IT Mg ...

This is sage advice for sure. Especially the part where you've captured your productivity on paper and can prove your value.

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Weekly report

by shardeth-15902278 In reply to General thoughts on IT Mg ...

I don't suppose there is any way you could provide a sample of your weekly report? I would Love to see some examples. I have wanted to do something like that, but don't even know where to begin as far as organizaiton and content.

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