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T-SQL Tuesday #123: Summary of Life Hacks

There was an amazing response to my TSQL2sday prompt for February 2020 where I encouraged folks to share their life hacks. So firstly, thanks to everyone who participated.

A lot of people had more than one life hack so I recommend reading all of the posts linked to below. For this summary post I’ve tried to pick one or two hacks from each post and group them into logical buckets.

There are several hacks shared that I plan on integrating into my life, and I hope this post will serve as a good reference for us all going forward.

If I missed any posts please let me know!

SQL Server Management Studio

  • Chris, a first time TSQL2sday poster (welcome!), talks about adding shortcuts to run common queries, for example selecting the top 100 rows, or getting the number of rows in a table.
  • Jason has three life hacks for us, my favourite being the scroll bar map in SSMS. I use that a lot in VSCode, and had no idea you could do that in SSMS as well.
  • Kenneth’s hack is to configure your tools and shows some great tips for making SQL Server Management Studio work for you.
  • Kevin talks us through executing sp_whoisactive as a temporary procedure to leave no trace and using SSMS registered servers.
  • Taiob has some great tips to make using SSMS more effective, including adding your own keyboard shortcuts.
  • Tim shares a few hacks including multiline editing in SSMS, and a homemade bread proofing box.

T-SQL/PowerShell

  • James has a hack for using windowing functions in T-SQL to aggregate aggregates and a really well laid out post to explain that concept.
  • Lisa has a couple of stored procedures to add to your toolbelt. One that recursively finds objects your code calls, and one that recursively finds code that calls your objects.
  • Sander’s life hack is to make the most out of your PowerShell profile, and discusses the contents of his profile.

Keyboard/word Shortcuts

  • Cathrine has some great keyboard shortcuts to make us more productive, showing us how to move both lines of text and windows around.
  • Martin levels up from using keyboard shortcuts to keyWORD shortcuts, including some to insert useful code snippets into SSMS for tasks he completes often.

Organisation/Time management

  • Andy has several great life hacks which he mentions are also habits at this point. He includes using cloud storage to sync up your documents and VSCode extensions across computers.
  • Aaron has a ton of little life hacks built into his daily schedule while he works from home. My favourites are a scheduled hour of ‘disengagement’ time to focus on non-collaborative work and his travel pack of gear.
  • Brent suggests using a (half) hour glass to assess progress made and keep him on track. He also links to a beautiful wallet damaging hourglass.
  • Drew highlights the Eisenhower matrix to improve delegation, and then goes on to list several more great productivity tips. Also bonus points for including a February fact!
  • Mala has two great tips for us, first to get the benefits of both working at home and in the office. Secondly, a way to squeeze in some learning time.
  • Shane’s life hack is not just to use the Pomodoro technique, which is pretty manual. He’s written a PowerShell script for it complete with toast notifications.
  • Tracey has a host of useful life hacks including queuing Ola’s index maintenance scripts and using a real paper planner for goals. Tracey also reveals she is the host for next month’s TSQL2sday!

Tools/Apps

  • Eitan talks about moving from an individual contributor to a manager and now utilising a bunch of “digital assistants” to get his menial tasks done.
  • Elizabeth’s life hack helped her to get her book written (I saw it just came out!). She’s been using dictation software to get the ideas out of her head and onto paper.
  • Erin has two life hacks for us. First, using the Toggl app to track your time. The second is listening to movies in the background while working to improve focus.
  • Kevin shares several tools he likes to use including Glenn Berry’s diagnostic scripts especially for finding indexes, dbatools and some other free community tools. Plus wearing jackets with lots of pockets for short flights.
  • Mike, another first time TSQL2sday poster (welcome to you too!), is using Apple’s ‘Speak Screen’ option to catch up on his backlog of blogs to read.

Personal/Health

  • Allen has a great life hack for dealing with people. Inspired by a role he played, Will Parker, he tries to be friendly and open to everyone.
  • Mikey has a simple but effective hack- get involved with #SQLFamily. He has a good list on where to find people.
  • Rich has a life hack that I can relate to, getting your exercise in, and I’d agree it’s a great life hack both physically and mentally.
  • Rob talks about a shortcut from his childhood French lessons to handle pronouns, and goes on to talk about the importance of us all doing better with each individual’s pronouns after this past week’s SQLFamily discussions.
  • Todd’s life hack is to use virtual reality in the morning to get into the flow zone before he starts his day. The videos shared in this post were amazing, and I’ve added the book he references to my to-read list.

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