System Admin Time Management: Introducing the Cycle System

6032 2018-12-04 22:06

Learning from who manages chaos for a living

Why should we learn time management from a system administrator? Thomas Limoncelli says “I’m a system administrator! I manage chaos for a living!”

Your customers value your ability to follow through more than they appreciate any other skill you have. Nothing ruins your reputation like agreeing to do something and forgetting to do it.

What is the key to perfect follow-through?

The Cycle system. It is called cycle because it repeats every day and the output of one day is the input to the next. It uses these three tools -

  1. A day-by-day to-do list and an hour-to-hour schedule
  2. A calendar
  3. A list of long-term goals

Keep them in one single place and sync across all devices. And don’t trust your brain for remembering and prioritizing and scheduling tasks.

Why other systems fail?

  1. The scattered notes system
    1. No gotta catch 'em all
    2. No prioritizing
    3. No contexts for you to resume previous work
    4. Easy to lose
  2. The ever-growing to-do list of doom
    1. No prioritizing
    2. No contexts for you to resume previous work
    3. Easy to ignore old tasks
    4. Self-esteem killer: the god damn list never gets completed!

What is a system that succeeds?

  • Portable & Reliable. The tool should be portable with you everywhere, and reliable to keep all tasks.
  • Manageable: It can break up or union tasks, so they become manageable.
  • Providing Contexts: A task record can contain contexts that you can easily recover to the working status.
  • Prioritizeable & Schedulable. It should be easy to scope to today’s work items and schedule, though still keep the ability to arrange tasks more than one day.


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