Working in IT is both deeply rewarding and frequently challenging. Your technical expertise is the backbone of your organization — rewarding. Backbones tend to carry a lot of weight — challenging. People at all levels of your organization, from customer support to the C-suite, rely on you for assistance — rewarding. People at all levels of your organization rely on you for assistance — super challenging.
That’s in the best of times. With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe and changing the way we work, shop, socialize and plan, it’s safe to say that we’re not in the “best of times.” And as the business world transforms before our eyes, the IT backbone is taking on a serious burden.
With all that your team expects of you — and all that you expect of yourself — it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The same tasks that you enjoy taking on, and the ones others need you to, can take a toll on your mental and physical health. It’s a risk you should not underestimate. You may be experienced, cool under pressure and able to handle most help requests in your sleep, but the long, stress-filled hours you’re working could erode your well-being regardless.
Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to ease your stress and take care of yourself during the coronavirus crisis. So take a few minutes to relax and read through our tips. Isn’t it time you submitted a help ticket for yourself?
Recognize That You Can’t Do Everything at Once
Your expertise is in high demand. You might be used to clearing your plate of tasks before calling it a day. That probably won’t be the case during the ongoing crisis, and certainly not for the first few weeks.
You’ll need to prioritize your work, preferably in collaboration with your organization’s leadership. Realize that you are a valuable resource for your company and that spending your time wisely is essential. Maintaining your productivity by avoiding burnout helps everyone on your team.
Focus On Your Physical Health
Working from home comes with its benefits, but it can also derail your normal routine. The good news is that it allows the flexibility you need to come up with a new, better routine that matches your lifestyle and personality. If you had an exercise regimen before, try to stick to it as best you can. If you didn’t have one, these weeks on end of isolation offer you the chance to get started.
Without a commute to worry about, you can start exercising immediately after finishing your workday, shower, change and have plenty of time for a relatively early dinner and a little R&R. Try to get some sunlight and fresh air if you can, even if it just means opening some windows or sitting on a patio or porch. While simulating submarine mission conditions might be interesting, it isn’t strictly necessary.
Given your role, you may have to return to an office for certain tasks, and you may be around other team members. Try to maintain your distance, keep hand sanitizer on your person and always wash or sanitize your hands after touching doorknobs or other commonly used surfaces.
Unwind With the Latest in High-Budget Entertainment
Some people are easily amused. Others need TV shows, movies and video games with multi-million dollar budgets to hold their attention. If you fall into the latter camp, here are a few options to consider.
Avenue 5 (HBO) – This semi-dystopian sci-fi farce explores what happens when people aboard a luxury space-cruiser make extremely poor collective decisions. Funny, yes, but also a great warning against opening airlocks because space “looks fake.”
DOOM: Eternal (PC, PS4, Xbox One) – You can’t shoot the coronavirus, but you can shoot all kinds of demons with a variety of lovingly-detailed weapons in the latest entry in this long-running series. Pro-tip: never stop moving.
Resident Evil 3 (PC, PS4, Xbox One) – Nemesis is back and he is faster and more intimidating than ever. This remake of the 1999 classic is a follow-up to last year’s excellent remake of 1998’s Resident Evil 2 and promises to be just as well-crafted and more than a little frightening. It’s the perfect choice for a bit of catharsis during a real-world viral outbreak.
Half-Life: Alyx (PC, With Supported VR Headset) – What better time is there to explore the wonders of virtual reality (VR) than during a pandemic? The long-awaited follow-up to Half-Life 2: Episode 2 takes place prior to the lauded second entry in the series, and follows Alyx Vance on a deeply immersive journey through the depths of City 17.
Tons of Great Movies On Netflix – It would be easy to pick one movie from Netflix to recommend, but isn’t indecision kind of the point of Netflix? When was the last time you saw Raiders of the Lost Ark? If you’re a parent, have your kids seen it? Did you ever catch Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with the ever-unrecognizable Gary Oldman as a British intelligence officer trying to catch a dastardly mole? Once Upon a Time in the West, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The Terminator – the list, like your inability to just pick something, goes on.
Do Some Wikipedia Deep Dives
Is your mind feeling numb from hours of VPN troubleshooting? Then you have found the perfect opportunity to explore the depths of Wikipedia.
Start by clicking ‘Random article’ on the left sidebar, and keep clicking until you find an article that interests you. Follow links in that article to other, related articles, and before you know it you’ll be lost in endless, shimmering caverns of knowledge about history, technology, mathematics, music, art, religion and more or less any other topic you can think of. You’ll know you’ve gone far enough when it occurs to you that you can’t remember how you got to the article you’re reading.
Optimize Your Setup
You don’t have a Gateway computer in a closet or sitting under a desk for some reason, do you? You wouldn’t keep CRT monitors or old cords around “just in case” in your office space, right? No extra printers, no peripherals of yesteryear in plastic bins? OK, just making sure.
But just in case you do have something along those lines going on, now’s your chance to go out with the old and in with the new. Old tech is neat to look at, but unless you’re running a computer museum out of your home, it’s probably nonessential. Take the time to clean up your office or workspace and purchase the accessories and hardware you need to work effectively from home.
Who knows, you might just find that your current computer ends up replacing another old computer under a desk or table, thus continuing the cycle.
Work Like a Mortal
In the Greek myths, the gods seemed to pretty much constantly have something going on. Someone was either descending to the underworld or chugging ambrosia or kidnapping someone or dipping someone in a river; the Mount Olympus squad didn’t appear to have a whole lot of downtime.
Unlike Zeus and co., you’re mortal. You’re talented and great at what you do, but you’re still all too human. You need to relax, rest and unwind now and then. Don’t feel bad about taking the time to watch a movie, play a video game or finally nail down the difference between stalactites and stalagmites.
Recognize that as an IT pro, you have a heavy load on your shoulders right now. At the end of a long day, you need to proactively set that burden down and let your body and mind recover. With practice, you might even pick up a few good habits that will last you long after the coronavirus crisis has subsided. Isn’t that worth sitting down for?