Based in Lexington, ky, Virtualizing a physical world is a blog by Thom Greene. His posts explore the world of technology certification, vmware troubleshooting, and interesting experiences in the tech world.

Keeping Organized

Being in technology is hard. You have multiple priorities, projects, implementation, and break-fix issues that come your way. If you're anything like me you want to fix everything and sometimes something could slip through the cracks. It happens to everyone occasionally and we're all human.

I spend a significant amount of time trying to stop that from happening to me. Being a successful technician and team member means you try to mitigate missing priorities. While I typically get into the deep with CLI or talk about the importance of certification I also want to address my organization system.

I can break down my process into roughly 4 categories: Capture, Prioritize, Review, Archive

Capture

Work comes into me from multiple avenues. I get emails, drive-by requests, formal projects, team meetings, random meetings, texts, and phone calls to name quite a few. If I don't capture everything I will lose it. I accept the fact that my brain only has a limited amount of short term memory. I use technology to fill in the gaps.

  • Evernote: I live in this program. If I get an email about a project I clip it into the project notebook. If I write some script, find a helpful KB article, or fumble through esxcli I put it into my script tag. If there's something I find interesting or important I send it to my Action Pending notebook. Once a day (if possible) I go in and take action on that stuff.
  • Notebook and pen: Paper is still technology, right? I keep my Moleskine opened on my desk all the time. I make a weekly page called "Eat the Elephant" where I capture a task and write the next step. I number all the pages and have a table of contents. In meetings I mark action items and add them to my Eat the Elephant. On Sunday night/Monday morning I make a new Eat the Elephant for the coming week.

Prioritize

Capturing as much as possible is great but knowing which to act on first is critical. To help with this I draw out a priority matrix to help me figure out what is urgent and important on my captured list. As I finish stuff I mark it off, I move the priorities around, but in the end I have a rough outline for what I should be doing.

Review

It doesn't matter if you capture everything if you never review it. All week I go back and look at my stuff. On Friday I book an hour of time to go back through my notes and make sure I haven't forgotten anything urgent. If there is an action item that isn't "waiting on..." I try to take action on it if possible. I make sure my Evernotes are tagged properly and in the proper notebook. My notebook's Table of Contents helps me go to all the meeting notes and let me see if I forgot anything there too.

Archive

After reviewing the meeting notes I use my phone to scan them into Evernote. A nightmare situation exists where I have downtime to work on something without my notebook. If I have scans of my notes I can work from that. My emails tagged in Evernote notebooks for a project makes it simple to go back and find something. When a project is finished I create a tag with the project name and then send it to my cabinet folders. I keep the Important stuff in front of myself but make it easy to find things that someone else finds urgent.

I didn't invent these methods wholesale. I used way more resources than I could ever mention to build my system. These steps come together to help me keep my head above water. Staffing changes and multiple projects could be overwhelming to me but I use this method and keep afloat. Do you do anything different? I'd love to hear and discuss it in the comments.

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