Addressing stress helps minimize potential of burnout

Stress is nothing new in the IT profession. Every day you’re required to meet deadlines for ongoing projects while successfully addressing the variety of issues that arise on the fly, from e-mail outages to computer viruses and systems problems.

While you may not be able to change your demanding

job requirements, you can manage the way you react to challenges and minimize the likelihood of burnout.

The following will provide you with some strategies for limiting stress while remaining effective in your role:

• Prioritize. Take a look at how you spend each day at the office. Are you focusing the majority of your time on the most critical projects? If you are devoting hours a day to employee calls about a recent software upgrade, for instance, you may leave yourself little time for strategic IT work. This , in turn, may elevate your stress levels.

Spend some time thinking about whether there may be more efficient ways of managing certain tasks, such as sending staff an e-mail explaining all of the important features of the latest software.

• Change what you can. The source of workplace stress may be out of your control, but in many cases a new approach to your assignments can make all the difference. For example, you may not be able to do anything about the deadline for providing your analysis of potential remote backup vendors, but you can give yourself more time to work on it by postponing a less urgent conference call about a future initiative.

• Ask for help. It may seem at times you are on your own with certain projects.

Perhaps no one else in your company shares the same level of expertise with Cisco routers or has previous experience managing a server upgrade. But, be warned: Assuming a solitary mindset can quickly lead to burnout. Even if you think others can’t help you, it’s worth asking. Reach out to supervisors and colleagues by letting them know your challenges and soliciting their advice in how to best deal with them. You may be surprised to receive volunteers of assistance or referrals to valuable resources.

• Resolve interpersonal conflicts. If you’re having problems with a particular individual at work, arrange a meeting with the person to discuss the situation. You’ll open the lines of communication and increase the chances of a successful resolution, which can help to reduce workplace tension. You may even discover that the conflict was simply a misunderstanding. Either way, with the problem resolved, you’ll immediately reduce your stress level.

• Take some down time. Even if you’re on a tight deadline, you can help alleviate stress by taking periodic breaks. Stand up and stretch, go for a quick walk or take your lunch hour without working through it. Just a few minutes away from your desk can renew your energy and motivation.

It may not be possible to eliminate workplace stress entirely, but you can take steps to prevent it from leading to burnout.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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