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Managing the Stress in IT: A Sysadmin's Perspective

Joe Hewitson| January 17 2019

| IT insights

Unfortunately, stress is an inevitable aspect of any IT job. Deadlines start piling up, resources are stretched thin and before you know it, your cholesterol levels read more like a lopsided basketball game than a healthy screening. For sysadmins, managing the stress in IT is as critical as any data backup routine.

With that in mind, here are some helpful tips to help you better prepare for those stressful seasons in a sometimes thankless job:

Stress in IT: Managing Priorities

When it comes to managing your stress levels in an IT environment, it's crucial that you look for ways to minimize external factors. After all, time management, budget use, staffing and scheduling can all contribute subtle — and not so subtle — stress to an already demanding job. It therefore comes as no surprise that a recent survey by TalentCulture revealed that 52.2 percent of health IT professionals rated their daily stress levels as unhealthy (6 or above on a 10-point scale).

One of the main reasons why sysadmins face high-stress workdays is the fact that these positions come with a lot of responsibility. After all, these IT pros can be responsible for everything from network availability to data integrity and staffing. In order to effectively manage the deluge of responsibilities that may flood your inbox, you must develop a healthy perspective of priorities.

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As such, sysadmins should strive to create a concrete list of daily or weekly priorities that will help to ease the burden of IT management. Be sure to keep your organization's mission statement and a firm understanding of what's expected of your position in mind during this process. Your priorities list should include well-defined categories that outline the general areas that you manage. Each category should be ranked by its importance to the core functionality of your organization as well as its urgency. As new tasks roll in, you'll then be better able to organize your priorities and rest easy knowing that you're working on the right projects at the right time.

Communicating on All Levels

There may come times when it just won't be feasible for you to get through your backlog of projects within a given workday. At some point, you might have to make sacrifices, which could come in the form of long hours and sleepless nights. This is where communication is vital.

When the clock is ticking and you're stressing to meet a project deadline only to get more work dumped on your plate, it may be because your manager simply doesn't fully understand your stress level or workload. In this way, effective communication with your manager is imperative. After all, IT is a team effort.

Similarly, it's also important for you to establish regular, healthy communication with your co-workers and direct reports. Make time for one-on-ones as well as group meetings to discuss pressure points and ways that each person can chip in to ease the burden. This type of open communication is truly a desirable attribute. In fact, TalentCulture reports that a 2015 survey by 15Five found that 81 percent of employees would rather work for a company that values transparent communication than one with flashier perks.

Finally, it's always a good strategy for sysadmins to take advantage of any opportunity to automate processes that serve as regular stressors in IT. After all, tasks such as network monitoring, print management and application deployment can be automated to varying degrees. A quick way to decrease your workload is to let your infrastructure work for you while you focus on more pressing matters.

And there you have it: Automation, well-defined priorities and clear communication can serve as three solid solutions for cutting superfluous stress from an already demanding job.

Topics: IT insights

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THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY Joe Hewitson

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