If you're in a position within the IT business, you'll know that you're expected to come to grips with huge amounts of information. So it's normal that, from time to time, you'll find yourself out of your comfort zone. How do you tell the difference between normal stress and something more serious?
The signs of stress
While the signs of stress can vary significantly from person to person, cognitive impairment is common. Indecision, forgetfulness, negative thinking, loss of confidence and a lack of concentration are all classic symptons. Physical symptoms can include hair-loss, muscle-tension, sweating and nail-biting. Stressed people make more mistakes, smoke or drink more, are more prone to accidents, and suffer from insomnia, loss of appetite and self-neglect.
So how do you combat stress? First of all, keep active and maintain your interests outside of work – many stressed people give up on exercise or hobbies, but not having an outlet for stress can make things even worse. Try to take a more positive approach to situations: adapting to change and viewing new situations in a more positive light will be crucial to dealing with stressors. And if you do recognise some of the symptoms listed, visit your GP and explain any concerns and symptoms.
As career consultant Sherridan Hughes points out, "No working environment is pressure-free and jobs in IT are no exception. How you adapt to changing circumstances is key to your ability to handle potentially stressful situations in a more positive way."
If this ‘stressed out’ feeling is about too much work and not enough time, you may want to reconsider how you deal with people from other areas of the business making demands, all assuming that their request should take priority.
Log each request and attend to them in the order they were received, making sure any legal or regulatory pieces of work get done quickly.
Some elements to consider for effective prioritisation in IT:
1. Who is making the request and how senior are they?
2. Is it a ‘must-do’ or just a ‘nice to do’? Is it a legal, regulatory or industry standard that needs to be met? Will it hinder your competitiveness as a firm until it is done?
3. How does it fit in with the company strategy and priorities?
4. What are the dependencies? Who does it affect if it doesn’t happen immediately?
Of course, it’s vital to ask your line manager’s advice about prioritising requests, but he or she will be more impressed if you come to them with a suggested solution, rather than just a problem.
Rethinking your life at work
Of course, if you've taken all the suggested steps but you're still aren’t enjoying your work, then perhaps it's time to consider a job move.
You might prefer a different role within IT or a different type of organisation - perhaps of a different size or in a different industry. Sherridan Hughes adds, "Being mismatched to your role or organisation can result in significant feelings of stress. Within IT there are many different roles: web developer jobs, for example, are more creative, while IT project manager jobs are more people-focused. Consider your areas of strength and where you would like your IT career to develop, and then plan a move accordingly.”
Many people have been sitting tight during the recession and still believe it is ‘all firing and no hiring’ in the market – but you may be pleasantly surprised to find a new IT job that is a better match for your skills and personality - as well as leaving you a lot less stressed out.
With thousands of vacancies from hundreds of employers to browse, CWJobs has a huge variety of permanent and contract IT jobs on offer. IT professionals and contractors can our jobs database and search by specific skill set, salary and location before applying online.
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