Joshua Fennessy

5 Questions with Jes Borland

One of the great things about the SQL Server community is the open communication we maintain on Twitter. Jes Borland, a friend across Lake Michigan, mentioned that she was looking to kick-start her blog again and wanted to maybe interview someone. I had been wanting to start an interview ‘pen-pal’ club as well, so we connected and made the plan.

Jes Borland (blog | twitter | linkedin) is a Microsoft SQL Server MVP, founder of the Tech-on-Tap Training Series, blogger at, and SQL Server Engineer at Concurrecy. I recently asked Jes a few questions about work, life, and career. Here are her responses.

Jes Borland
Josh: You know that moment when your brain freezes up and you just can’t continue?  How do you get past it?

Jes: I take a walk (or, if it’s really bad, go for a run). If I continue to sit and my desk and stew on it, I’ll end up going over to Twitter and wasting half an hour, or getting lost on some news site. That doesn’t help clear anything up, and then I feel as if I’ve wasted time. But, if I can get away from the computer, move, and think through what I’ve been doing, it helps – a lot!

Josh: We all have a million things to do. How do you organize your tasks?

Jes: I love lists. Love, love, love. But instead of making un-ending lists, I have two. Every day I make a “Three Things” list for the three things I need to do that day. Three items is manageable. Three things is progress. Three things are not overwhelming. Then I have my “For Later” list, which lists other things I”ll work on as time allows.

Josh: If you could change one thing about your office, what would it be?  What if you could change two things?
Jes: If I could change one thing…I’m on the lookout for a new desk. I want a lot of things out of it, though. I’d like it to be an adjustable sit-down/stand-up/walking desk. I’d also like it to have room for two laptop/dock setups (one for work, one for personal). Then, I need drawers. I hate having things sitting out on the desk where I can see them, unless I”m actively working on or with them, so drawers are necessary.

If I could change a second thing about my at-home office, I’d want it to be a separate room above the garage, with its own bathroom and a small kitchenette. After over three years of working from home, I’ve learned to ignore the distractions of a pile of dirty dishes, the book I didn’t finish reading last night, or starting dinner – most of the time. But not all! A separate area to work would be fantastic.

Josh: What new things are you learning?

Jes: In an effort to earn my MCSA in SQL Server, I’m hard at work on Administering Windows Server 2012. I have a background in Windows setup and administration, but there’s been a lot of new stuff that has emerged or matured in the last five years – particularly when it comes to doing tasks with PowerShell. So I’m spending time focusing on server roles, Active Directory, and PowerShell – it’s a ton of fun!

Josh: We all love SQL Saturday. Do you have a memorable moment from a particular event that stands out?

Jes: Gosh. There are so many. So many. I’m going to call out SQL Saturday Chicago 2011, which was the third I attended and the first I spoke at. My session was, “Make Your Voice Heard!”, a session on using LinkedIn, Twitter, and forums to increase your SQL Server community presence and network. I was in the room next to Brent Ozar, and his filled up. so I got some overflow. There were a few MVPs and well-known speakers that drifted over. But there were also a few people new to the community that had never blogged or spoken. Over the last four years, I’ve watched people from that session grow into active bloggers and speakers, and I keep up with them on a regular basis and I couldn’t be happier. That session meant so much to me.

Jes, thank you for taking some time out of your schedule to share with me, and the rest of the community. I do hope you find your ‘perfect desk’ soon, and GOOD LUCK ON THE MSCA!

p.s.  Jes also interviewed me.  You can read those responses here.

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