How to Effectively Avoid IT Burnout
No matter what industry you work in, the chance of burning out is not only likely, but practically inevitable due to stressful situations, high volume workloads, and demanding bosses. Those who work in IT are in even more pressurized positions in many cases, and the reason is generally a simple one: When your IT systems go down, for whatever reason, your company ceases to operate. In most instances, this means the company is losing money for every minute that they are offline, and it can be a massive burden for IT staff to hold such a big responsibility, even on a subconscious level.
So, with this in mind, we put together a list of some great techniques that can help you to avoid the burnout blues altogether. We also explore some IT-specific solutions that may help you to overcome the challenges that you are up against. Work smarter and not harder while reducing your stress levels and your chances of experiencing a dreaded burnout in the workplace.
Start With a Self-assessment
In order to better understand your particular situation at work, take a look around and see what it is exactly that is contributing to your stress or anxiety. Perhaps you are performing too many functions for your position, or you have gradually been picking up the slack in your department because the boss keeps giving you more things to do. Either way, it needs to be sorted out, pronto.
This is a good opportunity for you to take a look at the job description that you agreed to when you first accepted the position with your company. Assess your daily workload and compare it to what you were hired to do in the first place. You might be surprised to find that you have picked up more than your fair share of responsibilities. Be sure to make a factual list of duties that you are performing that you consider being above and beyond the scope of your current role, and put it into bullet point form so that you are armed only with facts.
Sometimes there are daily tasks that end up sucking a bit too much time out of your schedule, things like user management, system reporting, and even basic server maintenance. These chores can hinder your overall productivity when things around the office get really busy, which will only make you feel more inefficient and possibly more despondent.
This could be the perfect time for you to automate your tasks around the department with PowerShell or Bash Script (depending on the flavor of your environment). The only limit to the functionality of your scripts is your imagination and creativity. The benefits to getting into the scripting game are three-fold:
You can free up some invaluable time during the course of your day,
You can show off your technical knowledge to your colleagues, and
You can sharpen your scripting skills.
Plus, impressing the boss can't hurt either, right?
If you find that you are constantly on standby, or that whenever there is an issue after hours that you are the only one who gets the dreaded call, then you need to take steps to change that. See if you and your team can set up an after-hours support roster and work on a rotational basis, or look at offering remote support instead of physically going to the office whenever there is a hiccup in the middle of the night.
If you are the only person that is able to perform these tasks, then find out what your options are as far as taking some time off work as compensation for after-hours support. The extra time away from the office can certainly help with reducing stress and catching up on some much needed down time, so it is worth checking out.
Also, try to disconnect from the organization when you get home. Schedule your work emails to come through only at a certain time in the evenings, or disable them after hours altogether if it isn't a core job requirement. People need to take a break from their work life when they get home, so don't feel guilty that you need some personal time when you are away from the office. Remember: All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. (And a stressed one at that!)
Speak with Your Manager
If you find that you are still not getting the support that you need from the rest of the team, speaking with your manager might be the next logical step for you to take. Try to find out if there isn't a way that you can get the other members of the team on board to help you. This is a great opportunity to build up junior members on the team and give them more hands-on experience with some of your daily functions and to pawn off some non-technical tasks that could just as easily be done by somebody else in the IT department.
Remember to keep the tone friendly and non-confrontational when you speak with your manager or supervisor, and study the list that you made earlier so that you can back up what you are saying with hard facts. Managers love facts.
It's important to remember that one of the main reasons that IT is such an attractive proposition for many professionals in the first place is that there are always positions available that need your particular skill set. Don't be afraid to shop around if the company that you are with is not working for you. You may surprise yourself (and your boss!) by landing an even better role with a more supportive company. The world is your oyster, so don't be afraid to check your options.