New Year’s Resolutions for a System Administrator

Here is a list of resolutions that many system administrators should put on their personal and professional New Year’s resolutions.

Document Everything that Needs to Be, But Not Much More

There should never be a question as to which user group someone goes into or the proper process for doing something routine or essential. Document everything that is routinely done and those actions that are critical to business operations, such as user audits, deactivating system administrators upon retirement and handling exceptions on the security logs.
Conversely, you probably don’t need to document all the details in the status meetings that endlessly hash the same project ideas.

Maintain Everything that Needs to Be

Maintain the documentation you create or it becomes almost as bad as a lack of documentation. However, maintenance as a responsibility extends to hardware and software as well.

Stay Informed within Informed Limits

Find the balance between updates and overload. Constant notices and pop-ups interfere with productivity and drain users emotionally. Don’t give someone a notice unless they really need to know. Likewise, system administrators need to know about potential security breaches, major system upgrades schedules and admin level tasks. However, they don’t need a notice of every document that has been changed.
Another version of this is maintaining the 10,000 foot view level of potential changes until it actually approaches affecting your work. For example, knowing that Apple has rolled out Swift to replace Objective C is useful for iOS developers, and it allows them to plan to integrate Swift into future software development projects and eventually learn it. However, they don’t need to follow the twists and turns of the evolution of the language until it is solidified sufficiently for someone to learn it without seeing that knowledge obsoleted by the next version of the language.

Focus on Finishing Projects

Too many work groups end up with too many irons in the fire because they start projects before finishing the prior ones. Unless you’ve found a security threat like Shellshock or active hacker controlled malware on your network, focus on finishing some of the project’s you’ve been working on. This may be software upgrades, security changes, configuration documentation or a dozen other things. Focus on finishing these projects before you start the next one. What if you can’t get it finished in a reasonable amount of time or may never finish it? Learn to let go of the project, with a quick tie up and documentation of what didn’t go right for later lessons learned discussions. If nothing else, you’ll free up ten minutes at every other status meeting for the rest of the year because you won’t have to argue about why it isn’t done yet. And you’ll free up time and resources to work on actual priorities.