To many times data professionals flounder in what some call a pool of uncertainty. The countless tasks, tickets, projects, and emails that may flow in without prioritizing will leave individuals searching for what is needed to be worked on now.
Organize or Agonize
Face it, we all influence someone. Whether you are a sole DBA out in the field or a leader of many there will be times when one will have some form of influence. There will be times when a data professional needs to juggle a multitude of tasks; being a leader in this area is key – either you organize or you will agonize over what all has to be done.
Here are some tips in how to organize and become better at time management:
- High Importance / High Urgency – tackle these projects first
- High Importance / Low Urgency – set deadlines around completion dates and work these into your daily routine
- Low Importance / High Urgency – find quick and efficient ways to get this work completed without much personal involvement
- Low Importance / Low Urgency – this is busy or repetitive work (think about automation if possible)
Too Many Priorities Can Paralyze You
The papers on the task keep growing, emails keep coming in, automated jobs are failing, on call is ringing off the hook, and you suddenly get that “frozen feeling” of what in the world am I going to do? If you’ve been in this business long enough than you know what I am talking about. If you are feeling this way go ahead and get the tasks organized then approach your boss about how best to approach them and what their advice may be. True leaders want to help their employees as much as they can and this is one of the areas that all of us can work on. All good leaders have learned to say no to the good and yes to the best, and one of the keys to success is keeping that line of communication open with your boss.
Leader or Follower
A person is either an initiator or a reactor when it comes to planning. In my past dealings I’ve found that these hold true; note the difference:
- Listen and wait for the phone to ring
- Spend time living day-to-day reacting to issues
- Fill the calendar by requests
- Spend time with people
- Lead; pick up the phone and make contact with people
- Spend time planning and anticipate problems
- Invest time with people
- Fill their calendar by priorities
Often times we see that when people lack ownership of an idea, they usually are hesitant to change. It affects routine, causes a disruption, and at times creates fear of the unknown. Uncharted territories cause insecurities to rise; four important cycles that will stand out around effective change are create, conserve, criticize, and change.
As a data professional there will be times when you are faced with bringing about change; here is a checklist that you may be able to garner some ideas from and assist you in helping you to bring forth implementing or requesting changes.
- Will this change benefit others?
- Is this change compatible with the purpose of the organization?
- Is this change specific and clear?
- Is it possible to test this change before making a total commitment to it?
- Are physical, financial, and human resources available to make this change (what else is on the plate?)
- Is this change reversible?
- Is this change the next obvious step?
- Does this change have both short and long-term benefits?
- Is the leadership capable of bringing about this change?
- Is the timing right?
The wrong decision at the wrong time = disaster
The wrong decision as the right time = mistake
The right decision at the wrong time = unacceptable
The right decision at the right time = success
The above are methods that I’ve picked up over the years that have helped me not only become a better data professional, but a leader. I’ll leave you with a few insights into what a solid foundation could be built on; it will be up to you to become the leader that you want to be; along with honing in your time management skills.
The definition of leadership is influence.
The key to leadership is priorities.
The most important part of leadership is integrity.
The most ultimate test of leadership is creating positive change.
An extra plus in leadership is attitude.
What is your most appreciable asset – people.
The indispensable quality of leadership is vision.
The price tag of leadership is self-discipline.
May we never lose sight or focus of our dreams and goals. Obstacles will occur, but they are just that obstacles with solutions waiting to be had. Take the hard knocks as lessons that can be learned. There will be many, life’s journey is full of them – what kind of impact will you have?