The world of IT is an incredibly rewarding field. Not only do you get to work with seriously cool technology, but you also share the experience with highly skilled people. To make the IT admin job even more appealing, it allows you to help others do their jobs efficiently, reliably, and securely.
As an added bonus, your daily work life varies, depending on the task at hand. Because of this, you won’t suffer the doldrums that come with other jobs.
But the world of IT is not all joy. In fact, IT can be incredibly stressful at times. On any given day you could experience a network outage that brings production and/or workflow to a screaming halt. Or maybe the company was hit by ransomware and the powers that be are breathing down your neck to resolve the situation.
And then there’s the never-ending need to keep up-to-date on modern technology. IT is a field where you’re behind the curve if you’re not actively learning something new.
Put it all together and you have the makings of one very stressful environment—one that can take down anyone at any time. So what do you do, when you need to find peace in the stressful world of IT? I have a few thoughts on that.
Read on to find out about them!
I’m going to start with the obvious here. Your IT department needs enough staff to keep everything running properly. You can’t (and shouldn’t) do this alone. No matter how good it feels to be a one-person wrecking machine, you need to have a collection of collaborators ready for job delegation. That might mean you must take your case to the manager of your department, who will then have the daunting task of making the recommendation to upper management and request the budget to hire staff.
Make sure your direct manager understands that if you don’t have sufficient staff, the company runs the risk of experiencing high attrition rates from stress and overwork. And if you continue to do the work of five or ten people, you won’t last.
Think about it this way. When upper management comes to your manager and says, “we need an in-house app built”, that person in charge of your department doesn’t automatically turn to the handful of IT staff members and say, “build this app.” No, the company should hire software developers to get it done.
So make sure your IT manager understands how important it is for them to fill the rank and file of your IT department with enough staff to keep everything running smoothly—without you losing sleep every night.
One issue I have found rampant in the field of IT is the lack of quality vacation time. That doesn’t just mean staying away from the company for a week or leaving for the beach all while keeping a laptop nearby.
When you take that yearly vacation, do it right. Go somewhere and leave work behind. That last bit can’t be stressed enough. Leave your work behind. You’re off the clock, so be just that. You’ve taken this time off to recharge your batteries, something you can’t do when your mind never actually leaves the confines of the company.
And make those vacations special, something to renew your love for life and everything it has to offer. IT is an exhausting career, so you’re going to need that yearly release.
Leave Work At Work
This one is really hard. But if you can leave work behind while on vacation, you can do the same thing when you’re home. One of the biggest issues I’ve seen in IT is that so many IT pros constantly take work home with them. When they don’t get a particular task done during work hours, they’ll happily say, “I’ll finish it remotely from home tonight.” Don’t. If you don’t get a task done today, it can wait until tomorrow.
Of course, if it can actually wait until tomorrow. You don’t want to put off something that is critical. If that’s the case, then get it done. But if it’s a task that can be put off, put it off.
Software developers will code anywhere, not just in their offices. Don’t. Have boundaries.
One issue you’ll face as an IT admin is that some companies will have you working on call. That means that you could be called in for work at any minute. If that’s part of your job, then you owe it to yourself to only accept on-call work for after hours. If you’re not working on call, then have a personal policy of no work while at home. Period.
This shouldn’t require you reaching a point where stress has consumed your life. You should already be regularly exercising. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:
“Exercise is also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.”
Make exercise a part of your daily routine. Go for a run or hit the gym. Join an intramural basketball or soccer league. Whatever it takes, get a regular dose of exercise. You’ll feel better and you’ll sleep better.
You might think alleviating stress to be an impossible task. It’s not. By standing up for your own mental health, you won’t be just enjoying a better quality of life, but ensuring longevity within your chosen career.
Take the time and make the effort. Peace isn’t all that hard to attain.