We all face it, today's headline article deals with it, as does this report from CIOs that acknowledges it. The levels of stress can be high in IT and while we may be proud of how hard we work, it isn't always the best way for us to be the most productive over time.
It's 2:30pm, sometime around 2002, and a new worm is hitting Outlook at my company. It was an attachment mistakenly opened, but all of a sudden our Exchange servers are being overloaded and we need to start working on the issues. The crisis team convenes and after a few hours of working with Symantec, we have an idea of the scope and solution, but it will be hours of work cleaning mailboxes and clearing queues.
At 5:30, one of the crisis team needs to leave. His kid has a baseball game and he's going, even if he's on the crisis team. He's a senior person and not directly responsible for Exchange. There's some grumbling, but the director lets him go. I stick around to see if I can help and end up scripting out some small cleanup tasks that automate the work and we're going home around 2am.
That's probably a familiar situation for many of you. Maybe it was Slammer, maybe a release needs some last minute bug fixes, maybe something else, but there are times when you need to go the extra mile and work harder. My buddy left because he knew the drill, knew that not everyone needed to stay there to work the issue, and he doesn't need the stress. There are times when he does need to work, but he's old enough to know that he also has to develop a balance.
I knew that as well, but I didn't have anything pressing at home, knew my wife would understand, and it was a chance for me to learn more about a new company and perhaps help.
We make mistakes when we're stressed. We're irritable, we don't think as clearly, and we aren't as much fun to be around. We're also missing out on our lives because we because too focused on one thing: work. It's no different if you're getting divorced, have a sick family member, or any number of other stressors outside of work, but work is a stress that we don't often consider.
In IT we live under stressful situations most of the time. We learn to deal with it, some better than others, and some not at all, but we tend to forget the pressure to get a report completed, a project finished, or some other part of our daily work is nothing compared the crisis situations where systems are down. And then we wonder why mistakes are made, things take longer, or we miss more deadlines over the next few weeks or months.
Do yourself a favor. Get away from work, think about something else at night, get a hobby, and learn to balance your life. Work hard, grow your career, but remember there are other things in your life.
And most of all, take your vacation. Don't sell it, bank it, or do anything other than enjoy using it.
Follow me on Twitter: @way0utwest
Forum Etiquette: How to post data/code on a forum to get the best help
My Blog: www.voiceofthedba.com