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A Day in the Life

What’s the first thing you do when you get to work? Ah yes, coffee. Too bad I gave up coffee a few months ago. It’s ice water for me.

I start my work day with e-mail. This is how much of my new information is communicated to me. Have I gotten a new ticket? There will be an e-mail. Daily reports? In my e-mail.

One of the first things I do is to run through my daily reports. I have used PowerShell to set up reports that provide me with information about domain health (AD doesn’t run itself!) as well as event log reports for the servers I support. In addition, I use EventTracker to send reports of information from user account changes to server reboots.

After reviewing the reports, I research and remediate any issues I find. A good day is one where the reports have no anomalies.

After the reports, I take a look at the ServiceNow ticket queue. Sure, if a ticket is assigned to me, I’ll get an e-mail. But I like to keep abreast of what issues are brewing in the offices and provide help wherever needed. A small ticket queue is a nice quiet day. I’ll check the queue throughout the day to keep updated about any pending issues.

Next I check my to-do list. Each day I make a list of things to do for the next day. Depending on what’s on my list, I could be doing anything from reconfiguring accounts, to creating a new deployment package to reviewing new policies to put in place. My list is a way to never forget high-priority items that need to be worked that day.

And then it’s on to my projects. On any given day, I am involved in several projects. For some I am a primary participant and for others I am only peripherally involved. But either way, I have tasks and research to perform.

At some point, I’ll spend some time reading through the technical blogs that I follow. It’s important to keep up with what is new with the systems I support, as well as any new security issues that pop up out in the wild.

And what about meetings? Ah yes, the scourge of an engineer’s life. I’d much rather be troubleshooting, implementing, documenting, etc. than sitting in yet another meeting. Does anyone else feel that way? I enjoy being in a productive or informative meeting. Unfortunately, not all meetings are such. And then there are the deliverables. Yup, you go to a meeting and come out with more work. Some days are like that.

I try to always take a lunch break. Some of the work I do is very intense mentally and an hour break in the middle of the day refreshes me enough to continue on into the afternoon.

In between all of what I think I have to do for the day, is the unexpected. An e-mail from the boss saying something new has come up and needs immediate attention. A co-worker stops by for information about a system or questions about an account. A recipient is not getting e-mail from one of my users. Any number of things can pop up. This is what makes the day interesting.

One last thing. After-hours. Yes, I said it out loud. Much of what we in IT do must be done when the users are gone for the day. This is a normal part of a systems engineer’s job. Careful preparation and vigilant change control can create an environment where after-hours work is optimized and the engineers are not burned out.

That’s how I see my day.


A lot of engineers procrastinate on documentation. Sometimes there’s just not enough time between upgrades, server failures, user requests, projects and the numerous other tasks an engineer must juggle to get the job done. But sometimes it’s just because no one wants to do it! Continue reading Documentation