5 Stress Management Tips for IT Professionals and MSPs

January 13,2022 in  Keep Calm IT's Friday, Tips & Advice
by Vanya Petrova

Tips and tactics for IT Pros on how to manage big projects, stressful situations, and heavy workloads in a way that’s better for your health.

IT stress management tips

Stress affects up to 90% of people regarding the American Institute of Stress and it can impact the activity and function of our genes causing damaging effects on our DNA.

Burn out from job stress occurs in every industry nowadays but when you run an MSP there are many contributing factors that can lead to high-stress levels. Before the 2020 pandemic, stress and burnout were already commonplace for IT professionals. IT job stress is defined as the negative reaction people experience when faced with high levels of pressure in their field of work. Essentially, it’s when an IT job makes you feel overwhelmed, exhausted and stretched far too thin. A recent survey found that 75% of people in permanent employment commonly experience work-related stress. 

So, if you’re feeling the burn of a stressful IT position, you’re not alone. But why does stress matter so much? 

Job stress in an IT role can lead to many problems. It can create a negative work-life balance. It can cause you to miss out on things that matter and leave you feeling drained when it’s time to leave the office or switch your screen off. In terms of job performance, it often leads to lower productivity and a poorer quality of work.

If you work in IT you may need to focus specifically on IT stress management tactics. This is particularly important if you’re an MSP. 

You’ll need to have the right tactics in place to manage big projects, stressful situations, and heavy workloads in a way that’s better for your health. 

In this post, we’ll highlight some of the key strategies that will allow you to tackle stress in your IT profession head-on and ensure you feel more at ease on the job. 

Here is a list of 5 Stress Management Tips on how to manage IT job stress:

1) Delegate

Delegating is a difficult skill to master for some MSPs and IT professionals. It requires the ability to relinquish control on tasks that are important or even vital for the completion and management of key projects. Delegation is vital to ensure that processes don’t become too time-consuming while also ensuring that the full team works together to complete tasks. Success delegating will also improve productivity and ensure that everyone on a team is under far less pressure overall. According to John Hunt, only 30% of managers believe they delegate well. 

Quick tips on delegating

  • Identify what to delegate: Evaluate the tasks that are repetitive and time-consuming for you and start with delegating some of them to chosen team members. 
  • Deliver feedback: Good work to delegate includes giving constant feedback to your employees so they can learn from your experience and improve their performance.
  • Control the big picture: Use network monitoring software to have everything under control. Such a tool can be very useful in enabling you to receive notifications on your network performance. Getting alerts for changes in the network or degradation in network performance can give you peace of mind and help you delegate more.

2) Automate

Delegation requires a larger team and this may not match your budget or your business model. In this case, IT stress management can be achieved by instead focusing on automation. Automating processes will allow MSPs to complete difficult or time-consuming tasks without needing to rely on other people around them. Various tasks can now be automated from payroll solutions to scheduling and workflow management. MSPs who take advantage of the right software will have more time available and ensure that they don’t feel as though they are being stretched to the point where things are slipping through the cracks. 

Quick tip on automation: If you use a network monitoring tool like Domotz, you can rely on a large number of tools that offer automation. For example, documentation and data aggregation platforms such as IT Glue or Hudu; Professional Service Automation (PSA) and ticketing systems such as Syncro, ConnectWise Manage and many more.

3) Communicate

How well do you communicate with your team? Are there often situations of misunderstanding and why? Think of how communication between teams can be smoother and more efficient.

First, focus on your speech and how you communicate with your team. If you are overly stressed then adrenaline will pump through your body, speeding up different processes. It will cause you to speak far more rapidly than usual. Clients and colleagues may notice this change and it could cause valuable information to be missed completely. Counter this effect by focusing more on your speech. Speak to yourself out loud with a slow and steady space. This can calm you down and help you relax. It is used as a method to reduce issues with chronic stress, particularly in high-pressure roles like working as an MSP. 

Second, create a positive employee environment. Listen to your team, recognize achievements, and give regular feedback.

Finally, participate and provide training for effective communication. 

Quick tips on what to avoid to improve communication:

  • Excessively high workloads and tight deadlines
  • Role uncertainty
  • Toxic company culture
  • Micromanagement
  • Aggressive communication
  • Closed questions and Judgements

4) Take a Rest

On occasion throughout the day, it is important to ensure that you are stepping away from the desk completely. While this might seem like a simple task, it’s easy for professionals to feel as though systems constantly need to be monitored with at least one eye on the screen at all times. If you do this, then you can experience burnout. Small breaks can help boost levels of productivity and ensure that you don’t feel anchored down in your position. You could even try activities such as desk yoga. This will improve blood flow which can provide a more clear perspective of problems that you are facing on a daily basis. 

Quick tip on how to rest: If you find out that your cortisol level is at its highest level in a moment when you are not able to leave your office, you can still take a rest in front of your computer. Close your email and all opened browser tabs, and open a website that you like to read something pleasant. We hope you can find something interesting on our new blog post category Keep Calm IT’s Friday.

5) Reduce Multitasking

Multi-tasking is another reason why you might feel as though you are pulled in far too many different directions. Consider eliminating multi-tasking from your daily routine and avoid doing too many tasks at a time. You don’t need to handle all the different jobs yourself. You can rely on experts such as virtual assistants (VAs). The right VAs can handle the various tasks that you are likely managing yourself so you can focus your full attention on one key task that you need to get right. You can also consider outsourcing some of your tasks. 

Quick tips on how to reduce multitasking:

  • Prioritize: Write all the tasks you need to get done, then separate the urgent from important and connect work to team and company goals.
  • Learn to say no: The phone is ringing, a new email is coming. Stop this before you hear yourself say “yes”. Put your cell phone on silent mode and turn off notifications on your computer. In case of urgency, try to postpone the moment you need to answer and focus on your task. Then, take a moment to evaluate the urgency before making your decision.
  • Eat the frog: Do your most important work first. Try to include the most important tasks on the top of your daily agenda. Then avoid everything else until the first task is done, take some rest and start with the second.

“If you have to eat a live frog, it does not pay to sit and look at it for a very long time!”

Mark Twain

Consider 9 practical methods for how to prioritize your work and time. 

Working as a professional in the world of IT can be rewarding. However, if you are an MSP or running a large team, the right IT stress management practices will be essential. By reducing stress you can achieve a healthier work-life balance while also guaranteeing that you are ready to deliver the best quality of service to every client. 

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