R & R

It is once again time for the blog party known as TSQL Tuesday.  I am hosting this month and wanted to also participate.  The theme is “Beach Time” and this is TSQL Tuesday #9.  Why did I choose this theme?  There are a few reasons for it.  1.)  There are numerous people in the community getting ready, or who have recently, to change jobs.  2.)  I was on the tail end of a mini-vacation / long weekend when I got the invite to host.  3.)  To be able to take a day off for that long weekend, I wanted to make sure the loose ends were wrapped up so I would not need to work over the weekend.  4.)  The song lyrics I mentioned in the Theme announcement, were stuck in my head and reminded me of vacation.  For this post, I want to cover what Beach Time means for me and some of the things I did recently in order to get a little R & R.

Beach Time

Beach Time means having peace of mind, for me.  I can’t go on vacation if there is doubt or concern about any of my projects (work, home, financial).  So, in order for me to truly have a vacation – Beach Time comes first.

I find it completely useless to go on vacation if I am going to be checking email or project statuses every 10 minutes.  There is no rest or relaxation in doing those things while I am supposed to be doing something else.  Vacation should be fun and enjoyable.  Thus, if I am to enjoy vacation, I need to do a few extra things in the office prior to leaving.

Going the Distance

When Adam (Blog | Twitter) asked me to host, I was on my little mini-vacation.  In order to get to that vacation, I had to prep myself and work for the one day absence.  I had to make sure I had built up a few things.

1.  Confidence

2.  Skills

3.  Processes

4.  Automation

Let me explain what I mean by each of these items.  I am sure it seems a bit odd to hear that Confidence and skills must be built right before one takes a vacation.

I needed to build confidence in processes and systems that were recently deployed.  This required more testing and monitoring of the processes to ensure all would be well.  I worked on transferring some knowledge of specific items to team-members.  I wanted to make sure they knew what they were doing.  I also wanted them to know that they knew what they were doing and that they could do it.  This goes hand in hand in number one, all while building skills.  With the massive changes that we were wrapping up (complete network migration), some new processes needed to be developed and implemented.  We are using new technology and software and the old methods just didn’t work anymore or were unreliable in the first place.

In addition to these items, there was the work tasks that needed to be completed.  Since we were trying to finish the project by the weekend that I needed to be out of the office, I needed to have my tasks done that much sooner.  This meant a willingness to work longer days (ok, continue working longer days)  and try to work a little faster without making any mistakes.  This also required some increased communication and visibility with regards to the tasks and effort.

I also had a feeling that something might come up on the day I was scheduled to be out of the office.  I suspected that there may be a user request for a data dump.  In preparation for this, I also built an SSIS package that would handle the most common requests from this particular user.  The package would be able to handle various different types from this user based on common requirements I had seen in the past.  A user would only need to change a few input variables and run the package.  The result as a simplified version of a process I had been using for that particular user and was something that I could hand off to a team-mate.  This automation made it so less time could be spent on teaching the team-mate what may be needed, and permits one to just execute the package.  This was something that I wanted to get done at some point in the future anyway, but this was a very good time to introduce it into the mix.  Overall time savings of this implementation could be a couple of hours a week.  Overall savings in thought process, memory tracing, note tracing, and stress was substantial.  It was well worth the day or so that I put into creating it.

“Toes in the Water…”

Now that I have been able to accomplish some very good stuff by putting in the extra effort, I can relax a bit.  By planning ahead, communicating, working extra, and training – I can have that Beach Time that I wanted.  I was able to have the peace of mind needed to really take a vacation.  Taking a break from work sometimes requires going the extra mile just before the break happens, but it is well worth it if you don’t have to think about work at all while on vacation.

3 thoughts on “R & R”

  1. I like the talk about automation and training. These are both key areas we talk about when we discuss what differentiates a Sr. DBA and a SQL Master, automation and mentoring.

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