A guest post by Dale Ziegler.
Sometimes, you need to rest.
My name is Dale Ziegler, and I’m a solo admin.
In my company, I am the only resource dedicated to developing and administering Salesforce. But not only that, I am a member of Sales Operations, so I am tapped with assisting Sales with other tools necessary for success. To some, that may sound heroic.
I’ll be honest, I was very overwhelmed (in a good way) that admitting to being a solo admin paved the way to speak in the Admin Keynote and co-lead a session dedicated to solo admins at #DF14.
I’m just your average suburban male with a loving wife, 2 awesome sons, and pride that I have the means to support them adequately doing something I love. I’m no hero, I’m just humbled to be mentioned in the conversation.
So when Brent asked if I would guest post for Admin Hero, I was super excited! He said I should think about the experienced Admin who struggles to keep up with requirements gathering, certifications, et cetera. I thought “OOO! OOO! OOO! ISSUES & ENHANCEMENTS LOG! MY BABY!”
My mind also jumped to Conga and all the awesome reports and emails that can be automated to minimize manual efforts. And Field Trip. Who doesn’t love querying on metadata to potentially remove under-utilized fields from the schema?!
I started writing in early December. I deleted. I started again. I deleted. I looped through this process 3 or 4 more times before I finally went dark. Not just on the post, but on the community in general.
After a whirlwind 2014 that featured multiple presentations at the Kansas City and Springfield (MO) Users Groups, Midwest Dreamin’, and Dreamforce…after a major migration that saw an entire process move from SharePoint to Salesforce so that a team of 3 could stop double-entering data…after a year that saw the launch of the Solo Admins group on the community…I needed a rest. I needed “me time.”
Then, after an awesome Christmas break with my family, I woke up with an epiphany. “Me time” is a tool. “Me time” allows me to shut off the noise and re-focus on whatever might be important at that time.
Unfortunately, in a world when everyone is running at break-neck pace and new technological conveniences can create more burdens than help, “me time” can be hard to find. But it’s out there, and you can capture it if you’re diligent.
The formula for “me time” requires only a four components.
1. Create a To-Do List
First is your to-do list. This could be a list of projects or milestones (perhaps certifications), and a unique numeric prioritization. The “high/medium/low” method is great for generalities, but unique numeric prioritization forces you to consider the true importance of each thing.
2. Set Realistic Deadlines
Second is a realistic understanding of deadlines. Just because someone says “this MUST be done by XYZ date” doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the true deadline. Understand the requirements well enough to get an accurate gauge of time required. Also understand what might be a higher priority, but maybe not at the current time.
3. Manage Your Calendar
The third component is your calendar of record, whether it be Outlook, Google, or whatever platform your company operates on. Dedicate time blocks to each project, but mark them as “Free” so that you are still available for meetings (sorry for exposing you to those!). In most instances (to account for exceptions and fire drills), I dedicate 1 hour to each project (after daily activities like email), and when that hour is up, I move that block to the same time the next day and begin working on the next project.
Most importantly, block your “me time” as Busy so that you can’t be scheduled for meetings. Force yourself to leave your desk. Force yourself to leave the building. Find a conference room to read a book, go for a walk, go window-shop somewhere. Just disconnect for those 30 or 60 minutes. If you have the luxury of extra PTO or vacation time, force yourself to take half-days off. Again, just disconnect.
4. Set Realistic Expectations
The fourth and final ingredient is one of the most crucial. Along with having a realistic understanding of deadlines, you must set realistic expectations when communicating progress to your users, managers, et cetera. Obviously know your audience and when it’s appropriate to do so, but don’t be fearful of saying you need to incorporate “me time” into your days and weeks.
Most companies today have adopted “healthy work-life balance” policies that support going offline for mental recharging. As a valuable asset to your organization, you have earned the right to recharge yourself.
Creating “Me Time”
Now, you’ve probably read through this and said “well no kidding genius, that’s Time Management 101”. But are you really practicing it? If you’ve proven your ability to admin an org, either solo or on a team, job security should not be consideration in your planning process. If you allowed yourself to do so, what would you do with your “me time”? If you allowed yourself “me time”, just think of how much more you could give back to your org and your company! No, there might be not be quantitative data to show “me time” led to an increase in X units of Y product, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the qualitative data.
For me, going dark for the 4th quarter of 2014 and waking up January 2nd allowed me to plan my 2015 fairly easily. I know I have a few major enhancements that must be implemented, but have also set the expectation that 2016 might be more realistic. I know that after I graduate with my MBA in May, I’m going to give myself 2 months to study for my Admin certification…that’s right, I’m not certified yet, and I’m not ashamed of it either.
I’ve blocked out 30 minutes every morning to be on Twitter and the Success Community, because my bosses fully encourage having a presence. I know that I need to start working now to earn speaking spots at Midwest Dreamin’ and Dreamforce. But most importantly, I also know there’s a park 2 blocks from my office with benches and brick walls to sit on whenever I need to look at something different.
Because sometimes, you need to rest.