Can We Talk?

TechWeb this week published an online survey of IT pros and came away with some interesting results: You're a mess. And no, I'm not talking about your ability to keep up with new technologies, security patches, and other technical matters, although all that does factor into the findings. No, TechWeb found that three out of four IT pros are overly stressed, with an alarming percentage suffering from physical side effects as well.

OK, I realize I sound like master of the obvious here, but consider some of these findings. Fully 75 percent of those surveyed say they suffer from "ongoing anxiety" about application-performance concerns. Two out of three say they spend sleepless nights worrying about work. And 25 percent report suffering from physical problems as a result of the stress. These physical effects run the gamut, too, and include nausea, headaches, migraines, panic attacks, heart arrhythmia, muscle twitches, and nightmares.

I'm not a doctor or a psychologist, but I find this all somewhat alarming. When I think of the world's most stressful jobs, my mind wanders to those poor guys on their third tour in Iraq, or perhaps firefighters, air traffic controllers, and law enforcement officials. But the reality is, any job can be stressful, and as you're all too aware, IT is the foundation on which today's businesses are built. If the IT infrastructure goes down, everyone is looking to you for the answer and a quick resolution. It's a thankless job at best (when things are working properly), and it just gets worse when things start to break. And it never ends, of course, as anyone who's been woken up in the middle of the night to fix a technical problem can attest. We've all been there, believe me.

What's interesting is how quickly the IT mindset can affect your personal life. Case in point: Years ago, I was driving around central Phoenix with my wife at dinnertime when I commented on the number of people on the road. "What are all these people doing driving around now?" I asked, incredulously. "They're driving home from work," she said (and somewhat condescendingly). I mulled over this for a second and in an unintentional "Seinfeld" moment said, "The nice thing about driving home from work ... is that you're driving home from work." The point is, for most of these people, work was over. They wouldn't have to worry about it again until 9:00 the next morning. It's a luxury many people don't understand.

Anyway, the only shocker in this study is that other 25 percent. Who the heck are those IT pros that are totally centered, unstressed, and unaffected by work problems while not at work? If you've got some secrets you'd like to share, I suspect others would be quite interested.

More Vista Tips
Last month, I published a short collection of Windows Vista Tips for IT Pros and asked readers to respond with their own tips. And boy, did they. So much, in fact, that I've since published four follow-up articles of Vista tips to the SuperSite for Windows. You can find the original tips article, plus four more, online here:

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