Time Management in IT
Anyone else having trouble remembering where they left their phone, keys, …brain? Thank heavens my smart watch can ping my phone when it has been misplaced, heavens knows how I managed to never lose my prehistoric flip phones. Our workforce is becoming increasingly bombarded with excessive amounts of data on a near constant basis. Managing your time has never been more important.
The only thing faster than the speed of thought is the speed of forgetfulness. Good thing we have other people to help us remember.
~ Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
The Full Scoop
Within the field of cyber security, there is a threat vector we call a denial-of-service attack. A denial-of-service (DoS) attack is often executed by flooding your victim’s network with so much traffic, that it simply crashes. The traffic does not need to be valid or legitimate, so long as enough attempts to say (e.g. logon to your network or server) occur. We had a client some time ago whose gateway router kept crashing, sporadically. There was nothing wrong with this network endpoint, it simply would lock up at times and their network would come to a screeching halt. There was no rhyme or reason, and no apparent times of day this would occur.
After some investigation, our team found that a port (think of it as a doorway) on their router used for remote access, SSH Access, was open. The logs on the router showed the culprit. Ever so often remote computers in foreign countries would try authenticating using different combinations of passwords, in an attempt to brute force their way into the router. There was so much traffic that it would cause the router to freeze, and internal users would be unable to use their computers. Thankfully our help desk engineers were able to employ straightforward network troubleshooting to help resolve the issue. Logs files to the rescue! Now, what does this have to do with your Time Management in IT?
Do you sometimes feel like so much information is flooding you, that you are experiencing a form of information overload? Your own personalized form of a denial of service attack? Working with technology can be overwhelming, and in an increasingly distracted and information saturated world; it is easy for your system to crash. Anyone else have about a dozen windows open on their computer right now? Have you received text messages, glanced at social media, responded to an email; all within the last ten minutes? We often do this to ourselves, by allowing a excessive amount of information and distractions to overwhelm us to a state where we are unable to function effectively. Learning to say no, to the right things, has never been more important; especially if you want to improve Time Management in IT efforts faced by your team.
We have found that employees are only capable of doing a couple things well at any given time. Give a talented project manager a manageable and focused group of projects to supervise, they often perform exceptionally. Give that same talented project manager a dozen projects to manage, yep – nothing gets done. If you want someone to be effective, you need to balance their workload reasonably; and seek their input in a open and transparent way, to understand the amount of load “their system” can take.
In the book, The Simplicity Principle – Six Steps Towards Clarity in a Complex World by Julia Hobsbawm, we are taught to apply something known as the Hexagon Action to bring more simplicity to our lives. In concepts taken from the ever enduring example of honeybees, Julia Hobsbawm suggests we contemplate six key areas; Clarity, Individuality, Reset, Knowledge, Networks and Time.
In an effort to simplify (ha!), let’s focus for a moment on clarity. Have you had that “what was I about to do” moment lately? If you have, you need to spend some time on clarity. Chances are a distraction caused you to lose focus, and to forget the task you were about to begin or worse, …complete. A study by the University of California uncovered that each time you check a news feed or Twitter, it takes an incredible 23+ minutes to regain your original attention and focus. No surprise why some employers have asked us to block social media sites on their networks.
With more and more employees working remotely, big brother won’t be able to help ensure you aren’t losing your focus. We need to individually take more accountability for how we use and spend our time. Simplifying our lives and building your own toolkit of technical and functional controls that will help you waste less time, is essential. There are tools we use to help simplify communication and scheduling, that have made a world of difference for our team. Password managers for example, help ensure we are not wasting time constantly resetting and re-communicating new passwords out to employees. Some clients of ours have gone so far as to get rid of passwords altogether, with either single sign on or even better; no password solutions, to alleviate constraints on their help desk usage.
If your company is struggling to work effectively in the new remote normal we are facing, look into ways to minimize distractions and encourage more simplicity in the daily routines of your employees. Given modern distractions, Time Management in IT has never been more important. Many modern cloud based platforms have tools to help you understand when and how your employees are working; let our team know how we can assist you.
Develop a non-threatening and open environment where you can speak candidly with your employee base on how working from home is or is not working for them. You can find ways to use each hour they are on the clock more effectively, with less anxiety or loss of productivity. Steve jobs said it well, “You cannot mandate productivity, you must provide the tools to let people become their best.”