Daily Routines

I’m a big fan of Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen (t|b). I follow the GTD principals both at work and personal life. The key part of making GTD successful are routines. In this post, I’m going to review my daily routine that keeps my GTD system running like a well-oiled machine.

For the daily routine, the morning fits my personality the best. I love getting up early and setting a goal for the day. You have to find the best time that works for you. Others like the evening to reflect on the day and set goals for the next, it is entirely up to you. Regardless of the time of day, the daily routine needs to hit on a few key areas: inbox zero, your calendar, and tasks for the day.

Inbox Zero
I’ve been a fan of this approach for over a year. I used to keep ‘to-do’ items in my email inbox that were usually just read emails that require some additional action. It got to be overwhelming and I found myself with hundreds of emails that required my time. By using Inbox Zero, I treat my email inbox as just another entry point into my trusted system (OmniFocus). I have multiple inboxes in my life, mail from home, drive by tasks at work, meetings, and blog posts or websites that I want to read. Once you realize that there are virtual inboxes everywhere in your life, you quickly understand that you need one system to organize them all.

Each day your time is being demanded by multiple sources. 8am-5pm is usually your work commitments and after 5 pm is family/personal time. By reviewing your calendar ahead of the day you are able to better estimate what you can accomplish that day. If you have a big block of time available, that might be a perfect place to work on your big project or start working on one of your goals for month/quarter/year. Smaller blocks of time might be best for quick tasks or phone calls that need to be returned.

Now that you have an understanding of what time you have available, you can decide which tasks you can work on for the day. Most people have hundreds of little tasks that need to be completed, but which ones are the key tasks that keep you moving in the direction of your goals? Those are the tasks that you want to prioritize first. By reviewing your tasks each day, you stay current on your most important tasks.

If you would like to know more about GTD, start with David’s book. He did a second revision a few years ago and this will give you the foundation of GTD and the advantages it gives you in your life. The key advantage of GTD for me is clearing my head of those ‘things’ that I can’t forget to do that will keep me up at night or cause me to go into firefighting mode when those ’things’ are due. GTD gives me the freedom to be creative with my brain instead of using it as a storage device that it wasn’t meant to be used for.

Doug Purnell

Taking a photo walk to a BBQ

This month’s #tsql2sday is being hosted by Aaron Bertrand (t|b). Aaron gives us a choice this month to talk about our passions outside of the SQL Server community or our T-SQL bad habits. I don’t have enough time to bore you with all my T-SQL bad habits so I’ll try to inspire you with my #SQLBBQ & #SQLPhoto passions.

When I not architecting SQL Server solutions at Elon University, I’m usually behind a camera or BBQ cooker. Both of these passions allow me to exercise the creative part of my brain when I’m away from the office.

I got the photography bug right before my son was born. I started with a point-and-shoot Sony Cybershot but was so frustrated with the delay in taking a picture. I love the digital photos when they turned out, but getting a consistent focus was difficult. My next purchased a Nikon D70 DSLR. This camera was a life changer for me. Having the ability to shoot 3 frames per second was eye-opening. I no longer had to deal with missed shots or not knowing where the focus point was set. I used the D70 for another 6 years before upgrading to my current setup, the Nikon D300s.


I continued taking photos over the years but with the onset of smartphones I don’t pull out my Nikon as much. The iPhone has been an asset to my photography just because it is always with me. What I really enjoy doing is taking photos at PASS events. Back in 2012, before my first PASS Conference, I reached out to Pat Wright (b|t) about joining the photo walk during the conference. What ended up happening was a full day “pre-con” of photography on the Sunday before the conference. We ended up at Snoqualmie Falls and the surrounding area and I had blast taking photos with Pat. We continue to have our photo “pre-cons” before PASS and other SQL Saturday events. This is a great time to talk shop about photography and SQL Server. I’m looking forward to PASS 2018 in Seattle and future photo walks.

Photo Albums:

2012 PASS Summit

2014 PASS Summit

2016 PASS Summit


2017 SQL Sat Charlotte


My other passion is cooking, specifically BBQ. I own a few grills but my favorite is a cooker that has a 3×6 foot cooking surface. It is fueled by propane but has a shelf for a piece of wood like hickory or oak. I bought the cooker from a friend about 15 years ago and have loved experimenting with different cuts of meat. My go-to meal is whole chickens, baby back ribs, and mac & cheese. The best part about the mac & cheese is it is just store bought Stouffer’s, but when it is left on the cooker for a few hours, it comes out with an amazing smokey flavor. During last year’s #sqlvacation, Kevin Kline made a stop at our user group in Greensboro, NC and I brought in the cooker for the meeting. I love sharing the food and wish I had a bigger cooking surface to cook for an entire SQL Saturday event.

Hope to see you on a photo walk or cookout very soon!

Doug Purnell