In the words of my homie Chris Woods:
“Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.”
In a previous post we covered 5 tips to building confidence as a network engineer
. And after reflecting on the post I realized I missed a couple of tips. In this post we will cover a key element in becoming a Top Flight Network Engineer!
With so many projects, tasks, tickets, escalations, meetings, one offs, and emails it’s hard to keep up mentally. And dropping the ball will drain your energy and kill your confidence. Let alone make you appear to be INCOMPETENT.
Here are 11 tips to help you become a more organized Network Engineer.
1. OneNote -
Use this like it’s your personal Bible and you are the author. Create a notebook for personal items and a shared notebook for work. In your personal notebook make a section for important notes like accomplishments. Update this frequently because it will come in handy when you are looking for a raise or needing to update your resume. In your shared folder, create sections for open tickets, closed tickets, escalations and projects. And now every time you work a ticket, the first thing you should do is copy the ticket number to the title on a new page with the ticket notes. Then when you work the issue you can add your troubleshooting steps to onenote. This will help you to always have a place of record for the work that you have done. And if you share it with your team it will help everyone else as well.
2. Email Folders -
Make a folder for everything with very descriptive titles. This will take some work to figure out. But as a network engineer we get a lot of messages from service accounts. These can have their own folder. You can also create a folder for projects and add a subfolder for each project that you are working on.
3. Email Rules -
The less we have to think about and the more we can automate the better we will be. Once you have your email folders in place you should create rules to move your new and existing emails automatically to their specified folders.
4. Personal Folders -
Whether you store files on your business laptop, a USB drive or one drive you should organize your folders well. Name your folders and store them in a hierarchical folder structure so you know where to look when you need documents.
5. Master Excel -
Ok maybe not. But use excel to store project information, serial numbers, ticket information, and more. You can even create device and workplan templates in Excel.
6. Calendar -
Use your darn calendar. You can’t remember everything and you shouldn’t try to. Use your brain power where you need it most. View your calendar as if its your personal Assistant. Let it work for you. Schedule out your entire day and look at it! Set reminders and alerts. These come in handy when you are stuck on those calls for issues that are non network related.
7. Notepad++ -
I use this program just as much as I use OneNote. It allows me to open multiple text documents in tabs that I can also compare. Before notepad++ I would have a million text documents open. Now I just have a million tabs in open Notepad++.
8. Visio -
Use visio to create network documentation. I create a visual diagram for everything and it’s always helpful. Some times we have to troubleshoot an issue remotely and it can be difficult getting the person on the other end of the phone to see what you want them to see. Having a diagram handy will save the day!
9. Update your tickets! -
Don’t leave without putting clear and concise notes in your tickets. Set a time on your calendar at the end of the day to update your tickets. Daily! This will help everyone on your team and keep you from breaching an SLA.
10. Reply to emails or flag them -
Don’t let emails sit without doing some type or reminder. The more organized your inbox is the less likely it will be to let important emails fall through the cracks.
11. Write it down -
Keep a notepad and/or sticky note on your desk and person at all times. I know we are in a age of mobile phones and laptops. But sometimes on a conference call I may need to write a persons name, a serial number or a time record really fast. Side note When on troubleshooting calls I often keep a time record of when I start a change or testing and when it ends. This info always looks good when you are providing updates.
Being a Network Engineer can require a lot from you. And it can be a really challenge to manage everything that you have on your plate. These are just some of the tips and tools that I use to stay ontop of my game. Do you have any that you would like to share? If so, feel free to comment below.
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