The IT help desk struggle is real. Users with insane requests, constant interruptions, outdated equipment, numerous software packages to manage and update … the work never ends. But all jokes aside, the stress can have real consequences to your health and morale. Survive the pressure (and constant passwords resets) by incorporating a few of these tips into your day.
1. Take a Break!
Skipping breaks (whether it’s your idea or your manager’s) is unhealthy and in some cases illegal. If you’re given a certain number of breaks, take them. Just a few minutes to yourself to relax, rehydrate or snack, chat with a coworker, or browse through the travel brochures planning your next vacation can really ease your mind (Ah, toes in the sand).
2. Prioritize Your Schedule
There is always too much to do. Instead of focusing on the mounting heap of “to-do’s” choose the one most critical task at the moment. Tackle that. When you’re done, pick the next most important one. Don’t focus on everything that needs to be done. Concentrate on the single thing you’re working on at this moment.
3. Don’t Over Commit Yourself
There are times when you just have to say “no.” Of course, you want to help all the users and you’d love to be the hero for all the managers. But this kind of stress is going to lead to premature gray hairs. You’ve coached your kids to “Just say no,” why don’t you give it a try?
4. Arrive at Work Earlier
It might seem better to avoid work for as long as possible, since work is what is stressing you out. But you’d be surprised what arriving a few minutes earlier can do for your stress. When you get in, get settled, take care of a few emails, and sip your coffee before your shift starts, you will be more relaxed, fully caffeinated, and ready to kick off the day.
5. Mind Your Diet and Exercise
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We know this is one nobody likes to hear — but that doesn’t make it less important. A 5-10 minute walk during lunch or on your break can help you unwind incredibly. While trips to the coffee machine help you up your daily steps, stick to no more than a couple (or three) cups of coffee, tea, or soda per day. A high-protein snack provides a boost of energy, while carbs sap your energy gone.
6. Break Larger Projects into Smaller Tasks
Everyone is overwhelmed at the prospect of a massive project to do, but breaking it up into smaller, simpler tasks makes it seem manageable. Instead of being daunted at a big chore, think of it in small sections and tackle only one chunk at a time. If it helps, give yourself a little reward after each small portion is done, such as a quick scroll through Twitter.
7. Learn to Delegate
It’s no wonder you’re so stressed — you’re trying to do it all yourself! Delegation is a powerful tool. Use it wisely to get more done with less effort. Even if you’re the lowest on the help desk totem pole, you can share the work with a few coworkers to make the load a bit lighter.
8. Take Note of How You Feel
You’ve heard it before: listen to your body. Learn to notice the signs you’re getting too stressed, such as tense muscles in your neck and back or a headache coming on. This is really the point where you need to get up and take a quick break (See #1).
9. Don’t Suppress Your Feelings
It’s normal to try to hide your feelings of stress, especially in a work environment that rewards workaholism and punishes “slackers.” But ignoring or denying your stress-related problems is a recipe for serious health issues. Sometimes the best cure for this is just to talk it out, whether that’s with your spouse or a co-worker, get it out there.
10. Watch Your Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol may not be the best way to to manage your stress at the end of the day. It might make you feel better for a little while, but in the end it’s not helping you deal with the root cause of the stress. But, with that being said, we also understand that the occasional happy hour with co-workers can sometimes be the best stress reliever and boost morale as a team. Just make good decisions when it comes to avoiding your stress.