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Combat Burn out, what works for you

By Jcritch ·
As a old fart in the IT field (20+ years) maybe the old dogs need to teach the new dogs some tricks to stay alive and healthy in this field.

I am calling on everyone young and old, what do you do to keep from burning out?

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by david.planchon In reply to Combat Burn out, what wor ...

I just finished posting a reply on burn out. So I thought I'd add something here too.

For me a job isn't a career. I think that burn out (from whatever field or industry) is less likely to occur if someone has thirst, curiosity and passion. 12 years into IT I can honestly say that I still feel the thirst. I have so many questions unanswered, so many things I want to discover, see, test, talk about.
My whole life isn't about my career, but it's an intrical part of my core.
After heavy work load days or weeks, I tune it down a notch. I play the guitar, spend time with friends, go take walks with my dogs and yes play with my many various systems at home.

I guess I'm at the age where I am no longer "the kid" in the team but not "old geaser" either. I see many getting into the business for the wrong reasons. Being an IT professional is just like being a doctor or a lawyer if you are there just to make a buck, you're not going to be very successful, furfilled and I garantee you won't last long.

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the right employer

by david.planchon In reply to Combat Burn out, what wor ...

I should have mentioned too that I believe that finding the right employer is a big key as well.

You got to know who you are and what you want, to be able to find the correct job environment. Not easily done at a young age. Trial and errors... basically life.

The right work place will definately shield you better from burn out -not completely but it is very important.

I took a job at a company I really really wanted to work for. The manager's personality and mine were not compatible. I think my 2 weeks there were more exhausting than my previous 12 years combined. It was a bad match, I blamed him a lot but really I had made an error in judgement.

So one piece of advice when you interview for a position, get to talk to several of the colleagues you'd interface with and really don't be afraid to fire questions accross the table. It will save you a lot of grief.

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Big Key

by beads In reply to the right employer

Not to put in a "me-too" in but I couldn't agree more with finding the right employer/boss.

There have been people that I have worked for that I would jump through flaming hoops covered in gasoline. Others I couldn't stand. Guess which bosses/employers that I felt the most burned-out with?

On the other hand I never feel or felt burned out working for myself. Probably because of the diversity of running a small but growing business.

- beads

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Tips from a Middle Aged IT Fart

Being in the business 10 years, I've found some ways to combat burnout:

1) Avoid empire-building. Every company I've ever worked for...the same thing happens. You and your staff work your butts off to create and manage a fantastic shop, only to eventually have everything ripped out and replaced. Don't get too attached to the way things are done and you wont get burned out when companies inevitably are bought and sold.

2) Always be learning. I always say if you don't like to RTFM you don't like IT. If you don't have a 1500 page tome you are reading now, by all means get thee to a technical bookstore and get one and read it. Your peers and your career will thank you.

3) Stay humble. No one knows it all, and that means YOU. I've seen many IT careers fall because of ego, and it's a shame. It's tough to turn the other cheek when you are scrambling up the corporate ladder, but remember it is only a job.

4) Be realistic about IT's place in the business. In most businesses, IT is a cost center and drains money from the comany. Sure, you can fiddle with esoteric numbers to prove IT is making a difference in employee performance, but the bottom line is that IT costs money. Consider it a challenge to make do with what your department is given budget wise.

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#2) ... Or Read a Mystery

by Wayne M. In reply to Tips from a Middle Aged I ...

I agree with billbohlen above, except for the recommendation to read a technical book at home.

If reading a technical manual appeals to you, certainly sit down and read through one. If that feels like punishment, pick something else. Grab a Mystery, an SF novel, a romance novel, a best seller, a business book, or anything that grabs your fancy.

It is important to have some downtime where you are not thinking about the day-to-day concerns at the office. Reading is usually better at getting your mental attention than TV, so curl up with a good book. If the book gets boring, don't finish it, get a new one.

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response for an Older IT Fart

by corwin11 In reply to Tips from a Middle Aged I ...

I have to disagree with number 4 or at least offer a different perspective. Cost center is an accounting term that I think greatly overused. I would like to see profit centers function without the cost center. Many years in this field have taught me an amazing variety of ways to make do with what I can get budget wise, but I strongly resist the notion that because we dont generate income directly that we should be the red-headed step child at budget time.

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You know that, and I know that...

by geobeck In reply to response for an Older IT ...

...but try to convince management. It doesn't matter how well your ROI calculation is presented, management still asks, "Why should we upgrade our workstations? These computers have been working fine for seven years." (I kid you not)

The ROI calculation in this case was that the reduced time just to log on to Windows would buy a new workstation in six months.

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From the Red-Headed IT Fart

by Too Old For IT In reply to You know that, and I know ...

The problem is that most of what passes for management today is geared to squelching "the excesses of the dot-com era."

That would be a robust economy, intelligent people having jobs they loved, at places where you wanted to come to work and pay that was even better. Even if a few of us grey-beards got bypassed in the drive to give every IT hot-shot a company Porsche, we knew it was going to be out turn eventually.

Unfortunately, we never got our turn and just have to live with the bitterness of lost six-figure careers being outsourced to the first person that will do a half-arsed job for 10 rupees an hour.

This whole management style of "business runs IT, not IT runs business" coupled with strategic planning that looks no further than Friday's Weekly earnings Guidance is what is causing the best and brightest of the next generation to seek jobs playing guitar in a coffee shop rather than go into IT.

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If only I'd known!

by SDiego_admin In reply to Tips from a Middle Aged I ...

Two years ago the wisdom in lesson #1 would have been very valuable to me about 2 years ago. While I didn't think about #1, in the past we have been working very well under #2-4.

Then came the change(s) that ruined my career. My peers from the orginal group are gone, and I'm the only one left. Suffice it to say that I too am looking for an out from under the dictatorship that moved in.
We used to have a cohesive group in that if I was ever sick or on vacation, there would be at least two people that could cover for me. I could do the same for them. We were all Sr. Admins with all of the "keys" to the critical systems.
We now live in a very different environment that has built a secret society of fife-doms that do not share with anyone. They now hold all the keys. And yes it has happened that one of them will be out and when disaster strikes, no one knows what to do or can't do it due to restricted access. The reliability and customer service we slowly built up to mostly un-trusting internal operations and programs, all went right down the drain. I've even had to seek treatment for depression for the first time in my life.

As a resukt of the changes that were made I no longer have a career at a company that has been wonderful up until that point.

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tag along

by david.planchon In reply to Combat Burn out, what wor ...

here's another biggy: find mentors.

I still need them every day. The specialists, the old farts like you say, the go to guys, the seniors, whatever you want to call them.

Tag along, ask them questions, ****! invite them over for lunch, dinner, BBQ, create a relationship; you might learn more from them than you would in any book ever written; and if anything else some of the stuff they are made of might rub off on you -if they've survived this long they've got a few tricks up their sleeves to pass along, even if they aren't aware of it.

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