As someone working in IT, there’s no denying that you have a lot on your plate. Not only do you have to monitor and maintain your company’s networks and computers, but you’re also the go-to resource when anyone else encounters a technology problem.
The demands of your fellow employees range from forgotten passwords to accidental virus downloads, and the sheer number of tech support requests can feel endless.
On top of that, problems that require your expertise to solve can potentially arise at any time of the day, with little respect for your personal life. Fellow employees and third-party customers often expect instant support when something goes wrong.
The end result is that most IT employees feel that their work-life balance is lacking. In fact, one survey found that only 36% of American IT workers felt they had an “excellent” work-life balance. For professionals in the U.K., the numbers were even worse — a mere 15%.
Too much emphasis on work may make you popular with those who need your help with IT problems, but it can have a very negative impact on family and social life. However, it is still possible to be great at your job and enjoy time for yourself. Here’s how you can find the right balance.
Enable remote opportunities
Quite often, IT professionals will receive an urgent call for assistance while they’re relaxing at home with their families. The problem? To complete the task, you need to drop everything you’re doing at home and get into the office as soon as possible. Depending on how far away you live from where you work, this means that even a minor technical issue could result in hours of lost time.
This is where a remote system like NETGEAR Insight can make a difference. NETGEAR Insight gives its users the ability to monitor and manage networks remotely. All the information and tools you might need to handle network-related tasks are provided through the cloud. The ability to control tech systems remotely enables you to avoid the stress (and time loss) that occurs when you have to be physically present to resolve a problem.
By using tools that allow you to take care of tasks remotely, you can become more efficient in your work, while still having the time left over to attend to your personal needs.
Know when to delegate
You’re only human. Regardless of your level of ability, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to handle every possible problem that might come up. If you push yourself too hard or try to take on every task available, you’ll end up burning yourself out. Worse yet, the increased stress will likely affect your work performance, increasing the likelihood that you’ll make a costly error.
Because of this, it is essential that you learn to delegate, especially if you are an IT manager. You know the abilities and work ethic of your other team members. Don’t be afraid to let them take care of other items on your to-do list so you have more time to focus on the most important or challenging tasks. This way, everything will get done in a timely manner and you can avoid stretching yourself too thin.
Delegation can even be a major contributor to your company’s growth. In a 2015 Gallup Survey, it was found that CEOs “with high Delegator talent posted an average three-year growth rate of 1,751% — 112 percentage points greater than those CEOs with limited or low Delegator talent.” In short, while delegation doesn’t solve all of your problems, it rarely hurts.
We all need to decompress sometimes. “Unplugging” yourself from your work may be a great idea in small doses—in fact, it has been directly linked with reduced stress and improved emotional health—but the life of an IT professional still demands regular attention to the job — sometimes after hours.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t set any boundaries regarding your personal time. Delegating after-hours responsibilities to others can go a long way in helping you avoid interruptions. Also, it might be helpful to provide some basic training to your non-IT employees, allowing them to solve less complex issues themselves.
Think of it this way: If there is one resource that is more precious than anything else at your disposal, it’s your time! You can’t make more of it, but you can make the most of it. Less pressure means more efficiency. And when your skills are in demand (and often demanded) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, a little more efficiency goes a long way.
Find your ideal work-life balance
The “on-call” mindset that dominates IT means that there will likely always be a struggle to maintain a quality work-life balance. However, as you use these tools and strategies to lessen your burden, you’ll be better able to find that elusive sweet spot between work time and “you” time.