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Appreciating Your Stressful IT Job? 868

Posted by Cliff
from the coping-with-the-heat-in-the-kitchen dept.
in the trenches asks: "I'm a married, 24-year-old male, and like many posters here on Slashdot I work in the IT industry. I currently work as a website developer (mostly design-related work), but I also do some Perl and PHP programming. As most of you probably have, I've often wondered if I wouldn't enjoy working in a less stressful environment. I've even gone as far as to wonder if I'd prefer some sort of factory job or similar over my current field of work. The problem is this, I LOVE developing websites, but I HATE the stress and responsability that comes with a the job. How do you all cope with the stress and responsability that seems to come hand-in-hand with an IT career?"
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Appreciating Your Stressful IT Job?

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  • by arkanes (521690) <arkanes@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:42AM (#8958199) Homepage
    Have a baby. You'll leave work each day with a song in your heart, knowing that there will be a minimum of bodily fluids to contend with.
    • Re:Have a baby. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Matey-O (518004) * <michaeljohnmiller@mSPAMsSPAMnSPAM.com> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:53AM (#8958261) Homepage Journal
      And that you really did KNOW stress til you're working with 6 hours of sleep a night.

      What, you think 6 hours of sleep is adequate? Try it in three 2 hour doses.
      • Re:Have a baby. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bergeron76 (176351) * on Saturday April 24, 2004 @11:59PM (#8962982)
        This is actually very productive if you can train your body to do it properly. It's called a polyphasic sleep schedule (Uberman sleep). You essentially train your body to go directly into REM sleep (the important sleep) right when you lay down. The end result is several extra productive hours a day; considering that you only sleep for about 15 minutes at a time every 6 hours.

        Thomas Edison (documented) and DiVinci (rumored) used this technique.

        The only drawback, however, is that you can only stay awake contiguously for about 6 hours at a time until your body FORCES you into a nap.

        A ton of information about it can be found on the web [everything2.com] and in print [amazon.com]. Of course, don't lose any sleep over the cost of that book over at Amazon.com.

        WARNING: My personal experience has been that it is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to go back to a normal (6-8 hour a night) sleep schedule after getting into a routine such as this. I did it for quite some time with no ill effect, however, when I started working for an employer (where I couldn't get a medically approved "nap") it became quite tricky to maintain. If you work for yourself, however, it's very effective. Another thing to note, is that alcohol can seriously affect this process.

    • by BobLenon (67838) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:58AM (#8958287) Homepage
      Theres only a couple of reasonable ideas:

      * Drink - often ;)
      * Threaten to set building on fire - Milton Style
      * Destroy the internet .. after that im not sure ;)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:01AM (#8958301)
      You could marry someone you hate. Having a wife that sucks makes your job stress seem much less important. Which reminds me, I heard a good joke the other day in a movie I was watching: "Yesterday, over breakfast, I made a Freudian slip. I meant to ask my wife to pass the butter, but instead I said, 'You bitch! You've ruined my life!'"
    • by TamMan2000 (578899) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @10:10AM (#8958611) Journal
      I am a 26 year old engaged engineer, so I am not that dissimilar from the sumbitter.

      I recently left a job in the aerospace industry for a research engineer position at a major university. I have never been happier. I took a little pay cut, but the cost of living in most college towns is a lot lower than it is in most cities, and I get more benifits (for example I get very cheap access to the athletic facilities instead of having to pay $30/mo for a mediocer health club...).

      The work environment is lower pressure, and is more open, more self guided... I work fewer hours on the average day, because I don't feel the pressure to be there like I used to, but I work from home a lot now on the weekends and in the evenings, because I enjoy my job. I enjoyed the work at my old job, but I resented the environment of forced productivity so much that I did not enjoy working on my own time...

      I have always been an exersize nut, spending hours at the gym and running each week, since the switch, without really changing my workout routine I have gotten stronger and faster, and I set my new personal record in the half marathon a few weeks ago.

      Overall, I definatly recommend academia!
      • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @10:43AM (#8958769) Homepage
        As a sysadmin working for a university, I must concur. University jobs are the best!


        Sure, there are times when it can get stressful, but the stress isn't CONSTANT like it is with jobs in the business world. Managers aren't constantly worrying about the bottom line, just providing the best environment possible for students and researchers.


        There's also a lot more freedom to play with open-source technologies. For instance, our entire server base is Linux-based, and we even use a linux-based central virtual router, which has given us pretty much 99.999% up-time since we implemented it.


        There's also a few perks, like lots of good looking women on campus all the time, being able to attend cool lectures and events (I was at the astronomy dept. star party last night, observing the solar system through a 12" reflecting telescope) and other random things.


        If you can find a university IT job or research position, go for it. The atmosphere certainly beats the business world.

        • by Maestro4k (707634) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @12:54PM (#8959540) Journal
          • Sure, there are times when it can get stressful, but the stress isn't CONSTANT like it is with jobs in the business world. Managers aren't constantly worrying about the bottom line, just providing the best environment possible for students and researchers.
          You experience is the polar-opposite of my University work experience. I was Sysadmin of an engineering dept. of a major university. The politics were so evil I believe Satan avoided the place. I was also unfortunately stuffed into the position as an hourly employee with no overtime allowed and had to build the entire IT infrastructure (alone) for the dept. No plans had been made, I had one brand new lab of 25 computers with only the vagaries of the proposal for it. Nothing I did was fast enough, no matter how many problems I overcame and what I got accomplished someone found fault with it. After a year at it the stress caused my health to deterioate badly. Another year and I lost my job thanks to the state's flakey funding.

          Losing the job was stressful at the time, and it took till last month for me to find another job in the IT field, but it also took all that time for my health to get back to where it was when I took the University job. So in the long run it was probably for the best.

          My advice? Find out what you're stepping into, if you'll be building the infrastructure or the only IT person run like hell. If it's already established and you'll be part of a team it might be worth it. I do miss the perks of lectures and such. (And yeah, I enjoyed seeing all the good looking women on campus too, not tha I got to leave my building much to see them though...)

        • by skinfitz (564041) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:34PM (#8962172) Journal
          here's also a few perks, like lots of good looking women on campus all the time

          I dont know about you, but personally I just find that depressing - like life saying "look what you can't have".
      • by kardar (636122) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @02:07PM (#8959944)
        Probably one of the best ways to relieve stress.

        In any case, you will gain productivity if you exercise more, and you will feel better to boot.

        Stress is your body's reaction to something outside of your body. You may not be able to control what is going on outside of your body, but you can, and should, at least _believe_ that you can control your body's reaction to it.

        Make a commitment, even 30 minutes a day, every day, in the morning when you wake up, or something along those lines. I find that when a project hits, and I have to get it done ASAP, that it's easy to forget to exercise.

        Here's the thing. If you forget the exercise commitment, even if it's just 30 minutes a day, you are actually being less efficient. I have known managers (including myself) that tend towards the fallacious theory that as long as an employee (or manager) is stressed out, the job is getting done as well as it can be. After all, if you are so carefree, and everything is behind schedule, isn't there something wrong with that? But guess what? If you are stressed out, the project will be just as behind schedule as if you aren't. There is a "fad", if you will, where we are essentially being paid for being stressed out. This is wrong, and unnecessary. It is easier to be busy, for instance, if you eat a proper diet, exercise, and get enough sleep. A proper diet and exercise can also reduce the amount of time that you need to sleep.

        So while being stressed out may be inevitable and ubiquitous, one thing it won't do is get the job done faster and better. Stress, in my experience, has just been used as a coping mechanism, as an excuse for poor management. Just look around and you will see that it is. Managers trying to do stuff they shouldn't be doing to try to save money is one symptom of this.

        Bring your level of skill (including social engineering skills), your level of input into the workplace to a point where you don't have time to be stressed out. [ busy != stressed out ]. Problem is, if your manager is stressed out, and insists on being busier than you, you may have a problem on your hands. There is no work, no job that needs, in any way, to "inherently" be stress-causing. I just don't believe that. On the other hand, unnecessary stress that destroys lives can be found in almost any sector, in any job, anywhere in the world.

        Exercise, exercise, exercise is that answer to so many problems that it's not even funny. Speaking of exercise....

    • Get Fired (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tatarize (682683)
      Better yet, get canned.

      One of two things will happen.
      1) You will find its pretty hard to do, so long as you give it minimum effort.
      2) You will get fired, and then know what real stress is.
    • Re:Have a baby. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gorfie (700458) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @11:01AM (#8958863)
      Agreed. I'm 26 and we just had our first child a month ago. Before, work was a challenge (deadlines, numerous projects, etc.). Now, I find that work is a place of relaxation, where I can focus on something and get it done. I actually asked my boss for more work. When I'm at home, I deal with a sleep-deprived wife, a fussy baby (gas), etc.. I have maybe 15 minutes to do the things I want to do (eat, read e-mail). Work is a breeze in comparison. Either way, I've always enjoyed the work. It never was really a bad kind of stress. It's just that now I know that there can be situations in life that make the stress of work pale in comparison.
      • Re:Have a baby. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ffatTony (63354) on Sunday April 25, 2004 @08:48AM (#8964370)

        Now, I find that work is a place of relaxation, where I can focus on something and get it done.

        So let me get this straight... You're advocating bringing a child into this world purposefully to make your home life so wretched that your previously terrible work-life pales in comparison. That sounds like the answer :)

        All joking aside, I think some people are more prone to stress and if they're having a hard time at work perhaps a more suitable form of relief would be to take a vacation.

    • Re:Have a baby. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by futuresheep (531366) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @12:15PM (#8959298) Journal
      After a stressful day at my IT job. Nothing does a better job of making that melt away then my smiling 1 year running around the corner to greet me at the front door.

      -proud dad that had to share...:-)
  • Easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:42AM (#8958204)
    Simple. Be unemployed... Also seems to go hand in hand with an IT career.
  • Wrong, my dear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Karamchand (607798) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:42AM (#8958205)
    IT doesn't automatically mean less stress. There're stressfull jobs in other areas as well, just as there are relaxing IT jobs.
    So just change your job but stay in the IT industry, specially if you like it. There's nothing better than a job in an area you like!
  • by prodangle (552537) <matheson@@@gmail...com> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:43AM (#8958210) Homepage Journal
    Stress and responisility come with any skilled job. You'll certainly feel less stress working on a production line, but you'll constantly feel undervalued, as you won't be getting used to anywhere near your full potential.

    Saying that, my friend's father has a PhD from Oxford, and now drives a bus. He's far happier than he used to be. Maybe you should eventually give up the hard work, but not until far later in life.
    • I've worked on the line before at Dell. It sucked. I was standing up in front of a bench all day long (they say standing up makes us more productive) running custom diags on laptops, servers, PCs...and other Dell shit. The point being, it was very stressfull. Both on my back, and having to keep my "numbers" up on the line.

      Fuck it, I will never do another job that involves standing in one spot and not moving around. In fact, I often wondered if this type of 10 hour day labor is compliant with OSHA standards
      • I never understood why employers that hire people to do this type of work don't put STOOLS in front of the work stations. I mean, stools aren't exactly expensive, and employees can sit down and be comfortable doing their job.

        Standing in one place for a long time is very bad for your feet and back. My mother used to work at a department store years ago and she was actually FORBIDDEN to sit down! What sort of evil is this? Would it be that hard to put stools behind the cash registers so employees could be co
        • I think if this sort of thing isn't against OSHA standards, it should be. Stools should be required for any employee that would otherwise have to stand in one place for hours.

          There's a funny Seinfeld episode where George insists they give the security guard a chair because the poor guy has to stand around for 8 hours. He of course falls asleep once he finally gets a chair. ;-)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:18AM (#8958378)
      For some people, the undervalued feeling can be worse then the stress. It really depends on the individual.

      Being from the military, I've had a wide range of responsibility and have done some very stessful things. Many times, I've performed ~12 hours of extensive safety checks and signed the dotted line that all nuclear protection systems, alarm systems, and monitoring systems were fully tested and ready for a reactor startup. Then moving over to the position of reactor operator and performed the actual reactor startup. All of this knowing that in a few more hours, I will be heading out to sea about to leave my life and family behind for 3 straight months with little to no real world communications. I've done reactor startups at sea with a room full of people watching and monitoring my actions. I've been involved in "incedents" and had to explain to the big men what I thought happened and why I took the actions I did.

      All that is fine and dandy but I made a decision to not continue that type of work. I got into "computers" because I enjoy them. 5 years later that enjoyment is now starting to wear off. Working my way up to Network Admin or whatever I am doing now is great and I enjoy the work and challenge but the *relative* lack of stress and lack of responsibility is hard compared to what I was doing and is a hit to my personal happiness. It was much worse with my previous jobs as I worked up the IT chain. I am happier overall where I am now but I know I can handle much more, that hole is something to consider.

      Stress is relative to the person experiencing the stress and not always proportional to the responsibility involved. Having a job with great stress but no responsibility to go with it would be something I could not do at all. I imagine running a cash register at a busy fast food chain would be extremely stressful but the payoff of performing such work would be hard to justify.
    • Well he sure as hell isn't driving a Bus in boston ... I can't think of a more stressful job ...
  • by sydb (176695) * <{ku.oc.12dw} {ta} {leahcim}> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:43AM (#8958211)
    Stress is what we feel when our current abilities are being challenged. It's also at these times that we grow as individuals - we learn to deal with situations which once caused stress, and hence become more capable. This applies whatever the cause of stress, even if it's a stupid boss that's doing your head in, you have to learn to deal with stupid bosses.

    I think you're much to young to stop growing, much to young to run from stressful situations. I also think you're too young to be married, but your early marriage is associated with your personal needs to grow as individual. Maybe you've already grown all you want.

    So obviously it's a personal choice how much stress you want to endure, taking into account how much you have already grown, how much you want to grow further, and your capability to do so.
    • by nycsubway (79012) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:02AM (#8958307) Homepage
      Stress is what we feel when our current abilities are being challenged

      That is true, but when you feel your stress is going toward something worthless, the stress gets worse, because there is no sense of satisfaction that you've done something worthwhile.

      For some people shoveling data from one database to another and processing it in between is worthwhile, for others it is not.

      Medical school is stressful, possibly just as stressful as working 80 hour weeks at a software company to get the product out on time (although no one really does this anymore, its all been outsourced :) ) Some people would find working for no money and learning how to help the sick is more rewarding and therefor more worth the stress than getting paid a lot and producing something you dont feel is worthwhile.

      I used to work for an insurance company as a programmer. With a bachelors degree I was one of the most educated people there. I was NOT challenged to use my education. The stress came from office politics and the boss saying "whats your status." every hour. To produce reports for management, this just wasn't worth the stress. It paid well, but not worth all the stress.

      So I recently moved on to a new job [nrc-iol.org]. It pays a lot less. The stress now comes from being challenged to do something that I feel is more worthwhile.

      Your choice of how much stress you endure is related to what you think of as good stress or bad stress. When ever I'd complain about something at my previous job, a coworker would always say "It's just a paycheck.. It's just a paycheck"

      • by TwinkieStix (571736) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @10:46AM (#8958780) Homepage
        I think that you could have managed yourself better. I work for a company that is growing rapidly. So, we get new VPs all the time who do the same thing. I operate under the philosophy that as the head of (or the entire) IT department, I need to manage my department too - not just the tasks given to me. If people are asking about the status of projects constantly, set up a project management web site such as this one [dotproject.net] (it's the one I use). If they don't want to look at the pretty Gantt chart on the web, print it out every morning so that you can just hand it to them.

        Sure, this kind of stuff takes time, but IT is a service to the other departments (we don't make money for the company, we make efficiencies for the departments), so you must act like everybody is the customer. If the customer demands frequent status reports, then that's what the customer gets. You will slow down because of this, but you are actually making yourself look more professional, and the customer will be happier.

        If you start getting backed up, simply say, "if you want that done in the requested amount of time, I'll need to hire an employee to help me out." Trust me, I grew a 1-person IT department to a nearly 10 person IT department in two years. We'll be adding another soon.
      • by Openstandards.net (614258) <slashdot@@@openstandards...net> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @11:29AM (#8959043) Homepage
        I agree. However, at 24, a lot of the "good" stress looks "bad" in the short-term. We rarely have the foresight to see how things will benefit us and help us grow.

        I remember at that age I hated politics with a passion, and swore I'd never work for government because I knew it would be a whole lot worse. Well, eventually, by age 27, I worked for the DoD. And I couldn't have been more right. The politics, and thus the stress, was intense. However, in hind sight, I grew tremendously because of it. I now am very glad I did it. Although, now that I learned and grew as much as I did, I'll be happy if I never work on another government contract again. :)

        As one poster replied to your post, being micromanaged can lead to a more professional project management response that addresses the root cause. Often times they'll leave you alone a lot more if you can produce reports for them showing your progress. If you give them too much information, they'll really back off.

        In IT, you need to accept that someone will want assurance that your are producing the requirements and will be ontime. Over time, you can often reduce the reporting period, but I never let it become less frequent than once a week, even after they learned that you always deliver ontime.

        One good way to give continuous feedback on a project in an automated fashion is through Apache's Maven [apache.org]. There are, of course, countless other project management related ways to provide "progress" reports online or on a regular basis. Maven is free, though, so worth considering.

      • by Reziac (43301) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @12:25PM (#8959374) Homepage Journal
        As some wag once put it, "Stress is what the body experiences when the brain overrides its perfectly reasonable desire to choke the living shit out of some asshole who desperately deserves it."

        If your job gives you THAT kind of stress, sticking with it isn't doing yourself any favours.

        A related point: It's important to be able to "leave the job at work". If you wind up taking the *bad* type of stress HOME with you, it will negatively impact your home life and maybe your health as well. Some people can't leave work AT work, and they'd be better off with a job that's more physical so when the whistle blows, that's the last time you think about work til you arrive the next morning.

        The line between *challenging* and *stressful* is different for everyone and every situation. But in general, "bad stress" comes from being stuck between a rock and a hard place, unable to please anyone and always being the guy who gets the blame from higher-ups when quotas aren't met or projects don't work.

    • by Llurien (658850) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:05AM (#8958320)
      Correct, but also consider what happens when the challenge is over your head. It's all nice to assume that stress automatically makes you a better/smarter person, but if the challenge is too big for you, the stress becomes harmful. This is exactly the reason people get burn-outs.
    • by Kingpin (40003) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:06AM (#8958323) Homepage
      Bravo. Your post basically sums up the experiences I've had during the past 3 months. Until late January, I was on my 6th year as a J2EE consultant. I was doing good - but I had run out of challenges in the company I was in. So I changed to another company, where I knew the CEO and I knew that he would just put me "out there", and I'd have to swim to survive.

      The first 3 days in my new job, I spent on a project management course. The 4th day I was leading a meeting with a newly won customer, and for the past 3 months I've been working as a technical project manager for this customer.

      For the first time in my life, I felt stress physically. I could feel my body complain about my concern for the project. I hated it. I managed to cope fairly good with it, as it was a passing sensation that lasted for only a couple of weeks.

      I took a chance that challenged my abilities, I knew that I was asking for trouble doing it, I grew. I'm looking forward to using my newly won self-confidence on the next project.

      My point: If you can cope with the stress (take it seriously, buy a book, talk to people), it will help you grow. If you cannot, well.. Some do postulate that IT workers are the modern factory workers.
    • by waveclaw (43274) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @10:46AM (#8958784) Homepage Journal
      Stress is what we feel when our current abilities are being challenged.

      Pure myth.

      I had trouble with stress in high school. I was recommended to take a college class on stress management. The class covered such things as what stress is and how to cope with it. I would say that, based on my current reactions to the world, it was very helpful.

      Stress is not challenge. Life is anything that happens to you. The physical response to this is usually what the layman refers to as 'stress' even though this is calling the disease after the symptoms. This response, the stress response or fight-or-flight response, is usually seen in wild animals and plans only when Bad things happen. It's supposed to go away once the threat causing the stress goes away, in other words: closure. We, especially in IT, like to make high stress the Norm.

      That tight, uncomfortable feeling is what happens when you are distressed.

      [Note: I am not a medical doctor. If you are having serious problems at work/home/school seek help. Especially if it is impacting your health, causing impotence, weight problems, etc.]

      You have a minimum level of loading that makes you happy. You also have a maximum. This loading is multi-dimensional. It can be intellectual, emotional, psychological, etc. Getting outside that range, either below (I'm soooo bored with these classes) or above (arg! I can't take these 80 hour weeks) causes your stress response to break down. When you can't respond to the distress anymore, YOU break down. You burn out.

      Just calling it 'responsibility' is irresponsible and hides the true, killing nature of stress. When you are distressed for a long time, your body does a lot of bad things. One of the most popular is the massive midriff of fat that the body likes to accumulate when distressed. Another 'coping mechanism' is a heart attack.

      Fathers get closure every time their little one walks, talks or moves on to college. You might need to teach your boss how to close a project without leaving dangling requests or unfulfilled garbage, intellectual or emotional, around. Having a boss who can do this is one sign you have a manager that knows how to manage people (vs. a canned MBA with little in the way of social skills who 'allocates resources.')

      However, the only way to survive is to learn to relax. This is inducing the relaxation response instead of the fight-or-flight response. (Unless you are really allowed to punch out you boss at work and thus get closure by resolving a 'fight.' A major factor in post-fight male friendships.)

      Use breathing techniques. Use visualization. Learn to quit while you're ahead. Learn to label things for what they are: distress that kills not 'responsibility' or some other Ward Cleaver crap. Exercise (ooh! there goes the karma.)

      Real life: it's not just for hippies.
  • by Saint Stephen (19450) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:46AM (#8958219) Homepage Journal
    In my early 20s, I like everybody worked 14 hour days 5 days a week. Then at some point (marriage, probably) I realized that the *better* people get their shit done in 8 hours, and go home. If you find yourself working superlong, you're probably not operating correctly. You should just go home and do better tomorrow.

    It's all about planning. Now I no longer look on 70-hour week people as heros; actually the opposite, why can't they get their work done more efficiently.
    • by KDan (90353) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:00AM (#8958297) Homepage
      That's not always true. In the software industry, especially in projects which have not been structured as well as they should be, there always comes a "crunch time" where you just have to put in extra time to get the stuff done before the unrealistic deadline, and make the deadline realistic through your own sweat.

      Now, sure, somebody fucked up along the line if you're working a 70+ hour week. But it's not necessarily you. It could be anyone all the way up the chain - you for being inefficient, the project manager for telling his boss that things can get done faster than they really can, his boss for putting too much pressure on the PM or simply being completely out of touch with reality, the boss above that for setting unrealistic targets in terms of how much a project should cost (which is directly correlated to how long it should take), etc...

      So sometimes, when somebody above you fucked up majorly, you might find yourself having to do 1.5 days' worth of work every day. And you can do it - just not for extended periods of time. If you find yourself working big overtime for more than 2 months, and that's despite you being very efficient with your work, just get the hell out of the place as fast as possible - there's too many people fucking up around you and it will fuck you up as well eventually, and being at the bottom of the food chain you'll probably get all the blame too.

      Daniel
    • by jbroon (147984) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:58AM (#8958568)
      When I first started at the job I am currently at, I was surrounded by people who would routinely work 12-14+ hour days, EVERY DAY. And then work at home on Saturdays as well. When you asked them what they were doing, they would just talk about how much work there was to do. I began to feel guilty because I didn't work those kind of hours, even though I was doing similar amounts of work.

      Now I should explain a little and say that 30% of the time, unrealistic demands by our client puts in the position of overtime. I understand that, and will slog it with the best of them. Its just not ALL THE TIME. And that what it seemed like with some of the people that I work with.

      What I realized though after a time, is that some of these guys/girls do it, because thats just who they are. If they didn't work 70+ hour weeks, they wouldn't have anything to complain about, wouldn't seem like the beleagured trooper, wouldn't feel as valuable or as important as they think. Its just a mindset with them.

      I don't want to be one of those guys. I'll work the overtime if its required and needed, or just asked. No problems there. But if there is a tomorrow, then I am going home on time...
    • This seems fairly on-topic. I'm a student, and people keep talking about how they're pulling all-nighters, like they're getting a lot of work done. Meanwhile, I'm going to sleep when I get tired. I'm still getting all my work done during a very tight time (finals begin one week from Monday), because I'm not spending twice as much time being half as productive.
  • New Job (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nycsubway (79012) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:46AM (#8958223) Homepage
    Get a new job. A less stressful one. Chances are if your stressed out over what you are doing, you dont actually like what you are doing. If the stress bothers you that much, its time to look for something else.

    I've noticed in IT jobs, the more you talk and interact with your coworkers in a positive and joking way, the less stressful the job is. When you sit there and stew over what your boss might say next, it gets stressful.

    You might actually enjoy working as a web developer, but perhaps not at the company you are at now. Having fun with your coworkers can make the day go by a lot faster and be more enjoyable. Look elsewhere!

    • Re:New Job (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sydb (176695) *
      You're right that laughter and cameraderie in the workplace helps lots. I'd add that working with people you respect helps too. There's nothing more irritating than feeling you're carrying your colleagues. When I moved from such a team to one where everybody has their own skills and experience and are able to add value other than just turning up and saying the right thing, I got a lot happier.

      But I don't regret working in the first team, it's made me appreciate the second much more!

      Only downside is I no l
  • Tai Chi (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:47AM (#8958226)
    Develop your life in a way that suits your personality, whether through social interaction outside work or reflection. I personally do Tai Chi. The way I deal with stress at work is to make everything into a joke -- my boss, for example, is insanely negative and insulting. All of us in the department used to get very upset about it. But with enough talking amongst ourselves and building of a mutual solidarity, we now pretty much laugh in his face: we take control of our environment and refuse to let him dictate stress onto us. He doesn't like it that much obviously, but we do. Something that REALLY helps is to think: what is the worst that can happen to me? As the Tao Te Ching [marxists.org] says: Do your work, then step back.

    musides
  • One word (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:47AM (#8958228)
    BEER
  • by nordicfrost (118437) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:47AM (#8958229)
    I work as a journalist. I'm 26, and starting to learn how to cope with stress and the fact that a single small slip of the keys could land my employer in a multi-million lawsuit.

    The answer is; with the years, you get more confident in yourself. You know that the abaility to do it is in you, and is neing used, so it's nothing to worry about. Focus on teh task instead.

    But occasionaly, I do get a bit worried. Like five minnutes ago, where the competing newspaper said (indriectly) that my story about the returing caskets with soldiers from Iraq was dead wrong (Among the pictures from thememoryhole.org were some pictures of caskets frome the columbia accident). I paniced a bit, yes, but though calmly about it, investigated my case, and discovered that the pictures I had discarded (since they wer taken during the day, while the pictures I used were in the night) from columbia had not been included in my article. And therefore it was 100% correct.

    In other words: Trust your instincts.
  • Debug yourself (Score:5, Interesting)

    by newsdee (629448) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:48AM (#8958234) Homepage Journal
    Find out what's really bothering you. Is it really the stress and responsibility, or is it the money, the lack of advancement, or something else? This is very important, because if it's really the stress then it means that (e.g.) no matter how much they pay you, you would feel the same.

    Once you know what really bothers you start thinking what you can do about it. Maybe a lack of advancement is because maybe you didn't finish college (I don't know you - I just know several people that work in IT in that exact situation). Maybe the stress is because you have several bosses that ask stuff for yesterday and you just need to come up with a way to prioritize everything effectively. And so on and so forth.

    Changing job fields like that is risky because you don't know what awaits you. And if you don't address the core problem and make sure that changing job is the best solution, then it's going to come up again in any job that you do.

  • by dema (103780) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:50AM (#8958242) Homepage
    I was going to do an Ask Slashdot about this, but this topic is somewhat related. So I have a question for those of you with degrees and such that moved into careers: I may have the opportunity to take a Web Development job in another state doing PHP/MySQL work and Mac OS X support. The job description falls squarely into my interests. The problem is, I'm only 19 and finishing my frosh year in college. Would it be worth it to a take a full-time job like this and go to night classes to get an associate's degree? Does anyone here have specific experiences with the difference between earning an associate's and a bachelor's degree in the high tech field?
    • by gandalf_grey (93942) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:02AM (#8958308) Homepage
      Go to school. Have the full experience. Those 4 years will see you evolve into the person you are to be for the rest of your life. While you're there, be sure to take a least 1 history and one philsophy course.
    • Take this from someone who did NOT get a degree after leaving school.

      Get your degree NOW. I left high school with good grades and instead of going to university I took a traineeship with an electronics firm, because they would send me to college and pay me too! Sounded great.

      The firm was in the doldrums though, and morale was bad. I took the money and drank most of it. I didn't study hard because I coped fine with the classes I was good at and couldn't see the point of those I was not good at. I failed ex
    • A LOT of IT positions require a BA just to be considered for a position. Unfortunately, it's not a guarantee of a job. However, you'll appreciate those positions you take that you know you could never have obtained if you didn't get your degree. Plus, remember, learning is fun. You have to really enjoy learning to complete all four years.

      With that said, I developed applications since I gradudated from high school, and got my degree after 10 years of night school. In many ways, I think I was better of

  • by BooRadley (3956) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:50AM (#8958243)
    Remember that your occupation is not your identity, and be sure to keep your social networks in good shape outside of the office. Also, try to keep your personal debt to a minimum. If you balance your personal and professional life, you can avoid most of the stress typically associated with most IT jobs.
    Unfortunately, this is never as simple as it sounds, but if you keep the simple goal of balance in mind, you can look forward to a good career.
  • Stress (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Isldeur (125133) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:51AM (#8958247)

    The problem is this, I LOVE developing websites, but I HATE the stress and responsability that comes with a the job. How do you all cope with the stress and responsability that seems to come hand-in-hand with an IT career?"

    Hey man. Just take it for what it is, enjoy it, make sure things are done right, and then be done with it. I work 100-110 hours a week and when I'm on call spend around 34-36 hours at the hospital straight. The hours *sork hard*, but I love the work.

    But that's what you have to do - enjoy the job and then leave it behind and get on with your life. Time is precious.

  • by idiotnot (302133) <sean@757.org> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:51AM (#8958248) Homepage Journal
    Think about your situation, and quit whining.

    You like what you do -- great. If you don't like the conditions you're working in, work for someone else, or go to work for yourself. Stuffing your talent into an assembly line isn't going to make you happy in the long run, most likely. It also is going to waste the ability you've got.

    Whenever I get stressed out about my job, I consider a few things.... 1. There are people doing much more stressful things than I am (soldiers, EMT's, police officers, etc. etc.). 2. I realize how boring things can be, and how slowly time passes when I don't have things that challenge me.

    YMMV.
  • by Simon Carr (1788) <slashdot.org@simoncarr.com> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:53AM (#8958266) Homepage
    I know where the stress comes from. Most people in this field want to do their best, and a lot of us are (or started out as) young kids, so we take things way too seriously.

    So I ended up giving 110% to companies that didn't give it back and I found myself up at 3:00am on many nights, trying to save the dumbest crap on the Internet like I was trying to save the International Space Station or something. The dedicated server for Joe's Discount MP3 Warehouse would reboot, and there I'd be investigating like there was life at stake. It's pretty similar with coding, the people that give you the orders want it done -now- and with -no bugs-. Which, of course, is unrealistic.

    It's an attitude that's not discouraged by management, a lot of times. Remember if they can "push you harder" they get better results. You get an ulcer.

    So:
    1. Don't take it so seriously.
    2. Remember that you like other things outside of computers (right?)
    3. Remember why you like doing this in the first place.
    4. Slow down, give your masters a realistic timeline for things, and don't budge.
    5. Allow yourself to make mistakes, you're not a computer yourself.
    6. Allow others to make mistakes, hell, laugh at them.


    I think the most important one is the first. Remember that life is not at stake (unless it is at stake, then panic).
  • by gorbachev (512743) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:54AM (#8958270) Homepage
    When I was younger I was the same, stressed about everything and everyone. Every little thing that was not going right was a major catastrophe.

    You're going to have to learn to treat your work as just that, work. It is not your life. Do not take it home. When you leave work, forget it. You're not responsible for other peoples' work and mistakes. You can only do your best and if that's not enough for others, then that's THEIR problem, not yours. Also don't be afraid to ask for help, if you're completely overwhelmed.

    I had to learn this the hard way after all that made my life miserable when I was working at my first professional job. I made a conscious effort to chance my attitude from the "worry about everything" to "don't sweat the small stuff". I haven't been miserable at work ever since even though there always is some level of stress involved.

    But it's not the stress that you should be worried about, it's how you react to it.
  • by beacher (82033) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:58AM (#8958288) Homepage
    I've found that if I dress badly, act angry, yell at my computer, and do really weird stuff that people tend to leave me alone. Granted I can get away with this because I get the job done in record time and I've never missed a deadline. Also - listen to music in headphones (it increases your personal space theres an article around here but it's too early and I've only had a sip of coffee). It's entirely up to you to defend your personal space and to repel the cube invaders. I don't officially take a lunch ( it's in my desk drawer), so my work mates never see me take lunch. Use the phrases "Under the gun", "there's no time for that" a lot. Really create the image that you're too damn busy for their petty shit. Read slashdot between your sandwiches ;) Sit with your back to the cube door but have a reflective surface where you can see in back of you so you can detect cube invaders.
    You really only have two options.. deal with them on your terms, or on their terms.

    I've found that reducing the petty bullshit makes life easier.
    -B
  • Stress? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pompeiisneaks (168217) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:58AM (#8958291) Homepage
    I would LOVE to be doing that, heres the reality check, I am in the Army, just got back from the War in Iraq in July 03 and have to go back for another whole year in Jan of 05, so, always remember, what may seem stressful can always, always get much worse, and most of what we sweat in life is really not that big of a deal, I used to think my IT job was stressful, but not even close to having things explode around you and having bullets whizz past (A sound I will never forget) Please don't take this as a flame or insult, just as a reality check.

    • Re:Stress? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by forgetmenot (467513) <atsjewellNO@SPAMonebox.com> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @12:36PM (#8959440) Homepage
      Why is this "belittling" spiel modded as insightful? Why? What is insightful about saying "it could always get worse". Would it be insightful to say "Hey, dude, you should be greatful you only have siphilus, cause, man at least you don't have Aids".

      The only thing worse than cliche advice like that is the attitude that anyone should just suck it all up because at they don't have it half as bad as someone else. Does it make the problem go away? No. Does it offer strategies on how to deal with the problem? No. All if is, if anything, is an excuse for someone, with grand notions of their own self-importance, to belittle someone else.

      Here's another reality check: You getting shot at is the risk you take when you join the Army and given Americas glorious record of imposing themselves willy nilly on anyone smaller than them you can hardly say it was a risk you weren't aware of - so don't you dare come galloping in on your high horse like some brave mighty warlord and talk down to the rest of us about the meaninglessness of our problems because "hey, at least we don't have to risk getting blown".
  • by Embedded (105939) <john@j - m i c rosystems.com> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:59AM (#8958294) Homepage Journal
    Quite frankly I have been lucky enough to have a job as an Embedded Firmware Engineer for 25 years. Remember the catch phrase"Intel first from the begining" I was there. Beta'd the 8051, 8086, 80186, 29000, 29020 and the list goes on.

    This led to marrige breakdown of two marriges something that happened to a lot of my co-workers.

    My advise is simple. Try and make your family first and advise work your family / life / health comes first.

    When picking a mate try and find someone who would partner with you at work and shows a genuine interest. This might be an artist that does books as well for web sites and the graphic artist can rise in them. Anyway you get the picture.

    And finally try and work towards a end that you can live where you want run your own business and the work comes to you. All you need is that high speed connect. Work when you want. Go fishing or ? when you want.

    That's what 25 years tells me. And no I didn't, I wish someone had told me.

    Regards John
  • Market maker (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Stile 65 (722451) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:02AM (#8958305) Homepage Journal
    I've got a nice cushy IT job now, working as a security engineer for a nonprofit. About half the staff at the organization are developers or system/network engineers. It's not very stressful.

    Last year and the year before, I was working as an engineer for an IT consulting company. It's great experience, but it's a lot more stressful than working in one department for one set of people on one small set of projects.

    I don't know if I'm weird, greedy, or just a masochist, but I'm giving up my cushy IT job to go finish a degree (any degree!) and become a market maker (that's a term some stock/options exchanges use for a floor trader that provides liquidity). Talk about a stressful job. The nice thing is the money and the skill you gain in doing it - if I wanted to retire after 5-10 years with a mil or two and just trade a few hours a day/week for the rest of my life, I could. Plus, I hear they have LOTS of vacation time! :)
  • The paradox, I guess (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pantycrickets (694774) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:02AM (#8958309)
    I used to love computers. Seriously.

    I used to have a passion for everything. I used to love learning every minute detail I could about whatever it was I was interested in.

    And one day, it all just stopped. I think it was when my interests became intertwined with my job. When what I was "interested in" was dictacted to me by whoever was paying me.

    I have often times thought about pulling and "office space", and just ditching the whole thing, and doing something physically rewarding, but somehow, I end up stuck in that part of the movie where you're getting paid more and more for doing less and less. And like with crack cocaine, it's just hard to say no.
  • by darylb (10898) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:04AM (#8958316)

    Any profession has a basic problem that, at some point, it becomes a job. The bigger question is how to keep it in balance. I'd encourage you to develop hobbies that are not related to computers; I took up woodworking and woodturning. You're married (and presumably not all that long), so it's worth thinking of cultivating your marriage and spending time with your children (once you have any, if you don't have any yet). Working for charitable causes is helpful also, especially in that it helps you see the value of your own career. (There's always someone worse off than you are.)

    That having been said, some jobs simply are not conducive to this. Bad hours, bad boss, tedious work, etc. I stand by my oft-stated assertion that working with a good team of people (defined as coworkers you enjoy working with) is worth a LOT of money. In that case, look around for a position that's better for your soul. But even then, it'll become work some day.

    In any case, there is a bigger picture to be kept in mind. I cannot speak for other faiths, but from my vantage point as a Christian, there is a lot to be said for developing an understanding of vocation. Your abilities are not purely of your own doing. What you have been given (money, ability, etc.) should be used for a greater purpose, as the parable of the ten talents [gospelcom.net] (Matthew 25:14-29) shows. When viewed with this attitude, it's easy to see the "job" as the grunt work that provides for the real, but unpaid, task of giving time, money, or ability elsewhere. Speaking from experience, the stress becomes bearable as you realize that you tolerate it for a reason.

  • by StateOfTheUnion (762194) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:09AM (#8958336) Homepage
    I would make sure that you research your potential career change before plunging in. You mentioned a "factory" job as a potentially less stressful career. Most "factory" operators would love to do nothing more that sit in front of a computer clicking the mouse and pushing buttons on the keyboard rather than sweating an upset in the factory that could potential lead to an enviromental release that at best will result in an EPA investigation and at worst lead to an evaculation of the local area or poisoning all the fish in the local lake (I seen the effects . . . it really does happen). I'm not trying to say that your job is easy or unchallenging, but if you plan to make a change, make sure you do your homework first.

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:10AM (#8958344) Journal
    Okay... I'm sorry about this, and don't take it too personally, but you really need to wake up and take a good, honest look at life. You say you're married... that entails certain pressures and responsibilities. You don't say whether or not you're a father, but you might be, or may be some day, and that entails a _huge_ responsibility and adds its own pressures. You are already working at a job that you say you enjoy (which puts you ahead of a lot of people right there!), if you give up on something like that because you don't like the pressure or responsibility, what does it say about your character? What does that say about how much you can be trusted with even bigger and more important things like being faithful to your spouse in hard times or raising a child?

    Growing up is all about taking responsibility... if you can't handle that, then I have no idea how you expect to get anywhere in life.

  • Do What You Enjoy. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 13Echo (209846) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:11AM (#8958347) Homepage Journal
    Most jobs have a certain degree of stress. In most cases, it's not nearly as bad as people like to think it is. Modern day people think that they have stress, but realistically, their lives are pretty easy. They just always think that they need to be in a hurry to get things done. Pressure makes some people work better.

    If you think that you have it tough, think about how someone felt working in a factory 100 years ago, or perhaps a farmer that had to break his back every day to feed his family. These are people that really worked hard... Modern day "stress" is only based on a person's desire to have things. Think about it... Are you really stressed because you need to make that deadline to get the work done, with risk of being fired, for fear that you won't be able to make your SUV payment? Or, could you deal with a different, but satisfying and more stable, job that might pay a little less even though you might have to make some sacrifices in terms of the things that you buy. Only you can be the judge of that.

    In reality, web development can only take you so far, and the pay isn't really *that* great unless you become some uber freelance developer that is well-known. Just do the thing that you enjoy the most, regardless of what it is. If that is web development, then maybe you're in the right place. If you can't handle the deadlines, then maybe something else would be better for you.
  • by geek (5680) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:19AM (#8958384) Homepage
    On one level, your 24 and prone to these feelings. I've been there, done that.

    On another level. Shut up. Suck it up and be a man. Do you have any idea how many people would kill to be in your shoes right now? I lost my job in IT and now work at a damn grocery store. My bills are killing me when 2 of my old pay checks would put me back in the red. I have to listen to people like you whine all day long "waaaaah my feet hurt, my back hurts, my but hurts, so and so said this and that about me". If you can't hack it then work at McDonalds making waaah burgers and french cries.

    I work with a guy that's missing an eye because a bungie cord hit him while undoing it. He's got 2 damaged disks in his back and walks with a limp. Yet everyday, he wakes up, gets to work and lifts boxes, stocks shelves and never once complains about somethng as petty as stress. He has responsibilities and comes from a generation that did what they had to do to survive, they didn't grow up like a bunch of pampered prima donas with cell phones and lattes.

    Get over it. The first part to getting over it, is to quite your whinning.
  • by TrentL (761772) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:29AM (#8958424) Homepage
    If you think you might be happier working in a factory, get a weekend part-time job with one and see how good it is.

    I worked in 100+ degree greenhouses during the summer. I also worked in a shipping building were we moved around boxes containing the most boring crap imaginable (financial brochures). I was in school at the time, and both jobs were a constant reminder that I should work my ass off so I could get a real job. I'll take a little stress over ungodly heat, back pain, standing for 8 hours, and dealing with ghetto boys any day.

    All jobs have stress. Just be happy your job has some creativity in it, too.
  • Become a chef (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrHanky (141717) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:32AM (#8958455) Homepage Journal
    The stress in that job will make you switch back to you cozy IT job and not regret it. Seriously, a cook usually dies before s/he's 55. The time constraints are ridiculous, and if you screw up, you'll have to do the same thing again even faster. Become a chef, and love your old job's stress.

    No, I'm not a cook, but I've worked as one (not at McDonald's -- that doesn't count!). The really bad thing was that I learned how to cope with stress, and that really freaked out my co-workers.
  • by bigattichouse (527527) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:36AM (#8958475) Homepage
    Do something that makes you happy and helps make other people's lives easier/happier. If you're not happy and you're not making the world a better place, whats the use of waking up in the morning. Find something that makes you happy, and adjust your lifestyle to meet your new (likely lower) income level. Be happy, and you'll enjoy your short life that much more. Note, your *wife* may not agree with the idea... so ya might want to talk with her, it is after all a marraige - she might have her own goals she's working for.
  • by Brento (26177) * <.moc.razotnerb. .ta. .otnerb.> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:42AM (#8958497) Homepage
    Developing tons of web sites for a web design company under customer deadlines while trying to produce a profit is stressful.

    Developing and maintaining a single large web site for a large non-profit or non-IT organization is markedly less stressful.

    No matter what you're doing, the stress goes up when you're dealing with external customer deadlines, pointy-headed-bosses that constantly change project scope, and the urgency to sell stuff fast or perish. Conversely, if you have the luxury of being an internal developer for a stable company whose main focus isn't actually IT, things get more predictable and stable. I'm not saying there's no stress at non-IT companies, I'm just saying it's a lot worse when you're the guy whose work pays the checks for the rest of the staff.

    If you're working for an IT company, consider your next job at a non-IT company, like non-profit organizations, city government, services companies, etc. The money's usually lower, but the pace is slower, the demands are more lax, and you don't have the stress of trying to put bread on other people's plates by the merits of your own coding.
  • by torpor (458) <ibisum.gmail@com> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:47AM (#8958516) Homepage Journal

    I've been professionally coding for 20 years, and I took a 5 month break to help my old man work in the sun, carting limestone blocks on some real estate property he was working on. Very hard, grimey, dirty, exhausting work in the harsh Aussie sunshine. A far cry from the cushy coffee/edit/compile lifestyle I'd plugged myself into in California for far too long ...

    Best 5 months worth of work I've ever done. Sunshine, fresh air, daily exercise regimen disguised as 'work', and a decent wad of cash from the ol' man at the end of it.

    Made me appreciate the beauty of code even more, when I finally got back to my laptop ... and now I have my dream job writing software, but I'm sure I'll put some more sweat and tears into the limestone walls on my ol' mans property again, sooner or later ... totally rejuvenating.
  • Dealing with stress? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Halvard (102061) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:51AM (#8958533)

    I've found the the people that get the most done get the most additional assignments. A Navy chief once told me "if you want something done, find the busiest person and give it to them". The point being that most everyone else is a slacker. I found myself doing most of my division's work on the submariness I was on. It shouldn't be any wonder that I wasn't very happy and had a lot of stress.

    Perhaps it's ironic and perhaps not that the people that slack off seem to be the happiest. So now that I've been out of the Navy for nearly 12 years (6 in), and working 80 hour weeks on average during that time, I can tell you my current recipe for coping: twice the normal daily prescribed dosage of Prilosec (doctor says to) in an attempt to heal an esophagus damaged by stress induced esophagitis. And antacid at least once every day or two on top of it and about 20 hours less per week. In large doses, this kind of work related stress is terribly unhealthy. Other people I know that are about 40 as well in IT have developed stress related problems dealing with their stomachs and colons. I'm sure it doesn't help that I come from a largely unemotional waspy family and live with an emotional woman of Italian decent.

    It's not worth it. Frequently, the fuck ups when they do something right get rewarded because it's so unexpected. The people that crank out huge volumes of work go unrecognized because it's normal.

    The paradox isn't unlike what used to happen when smoking in the work place was much more common. Smokers got their hourly or every couple of hours smoke break while the non-smokers toiled away. If a non-smoker stopped for the same break, they were ordered back to work because they were slacking off. The smoker continued to be rewarded for what essential was behavior that took time away from work and (and caused health problems).

  • by br00tus (528477) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @09:55AM (#8958553)
    There is a constant drive in capitalism to get more work out of "human resources" every single day. There are only two methods of doing this: either, if there's no pay for overtime, extend the amount of worktime (e.g. pay someone ths same amount of money for 9 hours work that they used to do for 8), or speed up the amount of work done in an hour. The former method can only be pushed up to the natural limit of the 24 hour day, and people have to sleep, so the latter is usually the preferred method.

    Having to do more work every day in the same amount of time is inherently stressful. It's kind of like a Tetris game where the pieces keep falling faster and faster. The stress is probably in realizing your desire to comply with this speedup is ultimately going to lead to a situation where things are coming so fast that you'll be unable to handle them and at that point things will collapse. And by then you will be totally frazzled mentally and emotionally. It's the same in white collar programming/adminning or on a blue collar assembly line [google.com]. Centuries ago in Europe, the workers [wikipedia.org] used to wear wooden shoes called sabots. When the factory boss would speed things up too much, they'd throw their sabots into the gears of the machines. That's where the word sabotage comes from.

  • by Salamander (33735) <jeff AT pl DOT atyp DOT us> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @10:19AM (#8958671) Homepage Journal

    OK, I just have to get this out of my system first: web design is stressful? Try real programming some time. There, I feel better now. ;-)

    Whenever I start hating my job, I think about how the non-techie population lives - and how I lived, once.

    • I work in a nice air-conditioned office. I know the AC is there for the machines, but I get to come along for the ride. I don't have to work outside on rainy days, or worry about sunburn on sunny ones.
    • I sit in a chair, stare at a monitor and type if I'm in my office or stare at other people and talk if I'm in a meeting. My job doesn't leave me physically tired and sore at the end of the day. The chances of physical injury are extremely low.
    • I have flex time. If I'm fifteen minutes late to work, it's likely that nobody will even notice let alone care. If I have to run errands or stay home to wait for a plumber I can just do it without having to make special arrangements.
    • I'm very lightly supervised. I'm accountable for results, not time on task. Nobody's watching over my shoulder to make sure I'm working every minute. If I want to take fifteen minutes to chat with a coworker about the latest gadget, or go out behind the parking lot and watch birds for half an hour, nobody cares.
    • Relatively speaking, I make a ton of money. Believe me, not having enough money to pay the rent creates its own kind of stress. So does worrying about how to pay for kids going to college, or for retirement. As it is, the money I make allows me to surround myself with nice stuff at home and go on neat vacations, and I'll probably be retiring early.
    • I get to work with smart people. If you've ever worked with a bunch of dullards you know how much of a difference that can make.

    Sure, my job can be frustrating. The technical challenges are the least of it; sometimes I think Sarte ("hell is other people") was right. When I start getting annoyed, though, I try to think of what it would really be like to have another kind of job - working on an assembly line, delivering packages for FedEx, picking up trash, ... no, thanks. Even the cushy-seeming jobs (doctor, lawyer, stockbroker) and the "fun" jobs (ski instructor, river guide) have their own trials and tribulations. They call it work for a reason. If you really think about it, working in high tech is about as close to a perfect job as you can reasonably expect.

    • by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @02:46PM (#8960177)

      Well said.

      My job is not dissimilar. Flex hours, minimal supervision, wheelbarrowloads of money, lots of toys to play with. As one of the senior people it's up to me to figure out what to do, to find new ideas the company could develop into products and make more money. It takes time to get in to such a position. My new grad days were a long time ago.

      With this responsibility comes stress. A little bit of stress is good. As the old adage goes, if you're comfortable, you're not learning anything. The biggest stress isn't the technology; it's the bad-attitude buttheads who should be digging ditches or doing some other job better suited to their talents.

  • by mikelieman (35628) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @10:28AM (#8958712) Homepage
    Excercise 1

    1. Assume a comfortable posture lying on your back or sitting. If your are sitting, keep the spine straight, and let your shoulders drop.

    2. Close your eyes if it feels comfortable.

    3. Bring your attention to your belly, feeling it rise or expand gently on the inbreath and fall or reced on the outbreath.

    4. Keep the focus on your breathing, Being with each inbreath for its full duration and with each outbreath for its full duration, as if you were riding the waves of your own breathing

    5. Every time you notice that you mind has wandered off the breath, notice what is was that took you away, and then gently bring your attention back to your belly and the feeling of the breath coming in and out.

  • My dream job (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chewmanfoo (569535) * on Saturday April 24, 2004 @10:30AM (#8958718) Homepage
    I can definately empathize with the poster. I have a high-stress IT job in the Dallas area. I think what makes work the most stressful, is the roller-coaster ride of elation over what we can achieve technically and what we have to put up with from management and the customers we so dearly need. If there was a way to segment technical people from political people in IT, I think all the technical people would be much happier, but it's just not possible...

    There's a pizzaria around the corner from my house called Nizza Pizza (Its in Arlington on Park Row and Cooper, if anyone wants to hop a plane and try a pie.) Anyway, on the busyest Friday night, I can see the cast and crew behind the counter making pizzas and salads like true artisans. The place is run by a family of Sicilian guys who stop and look up and say, "Hey Buddy, how ya doin'?" everytime I walk in. They make great pizzas, so they all must have the feeling of a job well-done. They have an obvious professionalism, and seem to enjoy their jobs. Watching them work makes me want to be the pizza guy, no matter what it pays. But then I remember my mortgage, and I turn around and head out the door with my pizza, because I have responsibilities...
  • by swinginSwingler (161566) <marc_swingler@@@hotmail...com> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @11:01AM (#8958862)
    I'm an Army Reservist who just spent six months in Baghdad as a combat photographer. I found that to be less stressful than my civilian software engineer job. (I wish that was a joke but I'm not kidding.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2004 @11:11AM (#8958926)
    I graduated from college in 91 and worked the same stressful IT job til 95. Then I said: screw this -- and decided to get out of the whole business (I was an application programmer).

    I sold what I had and decided to travel for a while -- a while which ended up to be 2 years and 3 continents later.

    I learned a lot during that time, and came back full circle to the IT industry with a healthier attitude. My philosophy now is: mental health, emotional health, physical health. In that order. If you get mentally broken down, the other two soon follow. And it doesn't work the other way around. You can't exercise your way to better mental health.

    Also: bad stress is normally caused by stuff that is out of your control. Next time you feel stressed out, check to see why. Unreasonable deadline? Sys Admin can't get his sh*t together for your app to run? Bug in your IDE? Project Leader is a Dick?

    Out-of-control stress is usually an environment thing. If it doesn't change (or you can't change it), it's often a sign to start looking for a different company.

    I'm a consultant now and can honestly say that the company culture makes MUCH more difference to your daily routine than "being in the IT industry".

  • by bryanp (160522) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @11:16AM (#8958959)
    but it's not a joke.

    I took a job with the Govt. (state, not federal)

    Until just over 2 months ago I had a very stressful IT job. I won't go in to the details, let's just say it was getting worse and I didn't see it getting any better. I liked the job, I liked the people, I liked my boss and coworkers, but it was just getting ridiculous.

    I went to work for my State Govt. In my case I was lucky enough that I have friends who work in IT there and a guy who used to be my boss went to work there so I had a foot in the door.

    Old Job: 65+ hours per week salaried (overtime? yeah right), having to let vacation disappear because I don't have time to take it and it doesn't roll over year to year, travelling all over the place and being responsible for Everything IT. Constantly worried about the next reorg.

    New Job: 37.5 hours per week (with comp time for more hours worked) vacation that accumulates year over year, just being responsible for my little corner of the world with people who can cover for me. Job security is pretty solid if you don't commit any of the Big Sins (get caught with porn, do something to embarrass the higher ups, etc..) I come in, I give good value for my time and I go home. I don't get an upset stomach on Sunday afternoon thinking about Mondays anymore.

    Downsides? The bureaucracy is mind-numbing.

    Conversations like this:
    "Why can't we just fix this?"
    "Politics. You'll step on the toes of the guy who's supposed to do this."
    "You mean he wouldn't be grateful we did it for him?"
    "Uh, no."

    Meetings. Good God they love their meetings. We needed to relocate a bunch of servers from one of the state agencies to the server room right outside my door. So we have a meeting with the affected people. Fine. Then two days before the Big Move they call another meeting "just to make sure everybody's clear." Ooookay. Things that I would have handled in the past with a flurry of emails and a phone call now take 3 face-to-face meetings with 6-8 people.

    Boredom. Seriously. My old job was much more challenging and interesting. There's plenty of work for me to do, but I think I actually miss the stress to some degree.

    Coworkers. Don't get me wrong here. There are a lot of hardworking intelligent people here. One of the smartest bitheads I've ever had the pleasure to know is the main guy who helped me get this job. The guy who is my boss now is very good at his job. OTOH there are people who will reinforce every bad stereotype of a Govt. employee you ever heard. And it's almost impossible to get rid of them. You just work around them. On a brighter note, I can work at what I consider to be a leisurely pace and still out-perform a lot of people.

    Raises have little or nothing to do with your job performance. You won't get rich working for the govt. Fortunately the only outstanding debt I have is my mortgage and my wife's student loans when she went back to school to get her RN, so while I don't make big money I make enough to pay the bills and buy a few toys.

    I'll leave you with a quote from the guy who used to be my boss to make you understand why I'm here.

    "There are people here who think they're stressed out. They've got no idea what the fuck they're talking about. The only stress I have is what I put on myself. Y'know, I recently got an offer from [company we both worked for] to come back. They offered me a substantial raise over what I'm making here. I turned them down. They asked me why and I told them - I don't travel, I don't work nights, I don't work weekends, I get to see my family and the difference in the stress is indescribable. It's just not worth the money."
  • Stress and the job (Score:3, Informative)

    by thewiz (24994) * on Saturday April 24, 2004 @12:06PM (#8959262)
    First, let's figure out what type of stress you are under. There are two types: eustress and distress.

    Eustress results from exhilarating experiences. It can be euphoric and powerfully energizing. It is the type of stress you are likely to experience when you win the lottery, get that promotion or receive really good news. It is the orgasmic experience of sex. It is the stress of elation, winning, achieving and produces positive and powerful emotions.

    Distress is the forces and pressures of modern life and our responses to them. Most of us think of stress in negative terms. It is the stress of losing, failing, overworking and not coping. It affects us in a negative and often harmful manner. It is unhealthy stress.

    It sounds like you are experiencing distress in your current job. Are you unable to cope with the distress? Have you noticed that your distress on the job is bleeding over into your relationship with your wife? Do you find that minor issues become major ones?

    If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, you might want to look for a new position. Take a look at working for a non-profit organization where the "time is money" mentality is considerably lower than working for a corporation. Or you might want to consider starting your own website development business.

    Just remember that this is YOUR life and YOU are the one who chooses to put up with the negative stress for a paycheck. Is what you get paid worth the distress you experience?
  • by linuxhansl (764171) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @12:16PM (#8959301)
    You stroke a chord there...

    I'm a Software Architect running from meeting to meeting everyday. How often have I thought about dropping it all (including salary and lifestyle). Move to Hawaii and become a gardener (called landscape architect now :), or maybe a carpenter.
    I like to create things (which is in part why I like software, you can make things without needing a big infrastructure). I need a lower stress job.

    You also have to change your lifestyle, though, to live on less money.
  • by zogger (617870) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @01:32PM (#8959738) Homepage Journal
    can't tell ya how to struggle by with 50 grand a year and sit in an office for long hours. I CAN tell you how to put it into perspective. quit your job. Now go get a job like a mason's tender, or in a chicken processing plant, or working landscaping, or an a black topping road crew, something like that.

    Now work for a month.

    Every friday, STARE at that check, notice the slightly differerent number sequences that what you are used to. Now notice your backache, your dangerous sunburn, the cough you are getting from road dust, the sight of a thousand chickenbns hanging on hooks in front of you in a never ending stream that never quits. Now explain to wifey why you will be needing to a smaller home, and maybe the ride is kinda steep, go looking for a one grand junker with 200 thou on it. Now go to the grocery store and notice that everything but the cheap stuff is off the menu if you like eating 7 days a week. Now notice what a movie or DVD costs in termsof hours of labor. Now notice that you will still have bosses who are jerks, who will get on your case, tell you it needs to be done by yada yada, and you know it should take 4 yadas to do that. Notice now that even though it's 90 degrees out today, and tomorrow it will be thunderstorming, you'll still be "at work" and the climate control seems to be broken perpetually, it s a bit more random than what you might be used to. Now notice that full coverage insurance you are thinking about more because of that guy they hauled off yesterday with the crushed foot, and which you will have to buy yourself will cost you 1/2 to 2/3rds your check if you actually expect it to do more than the bare minimum band aids, and forget any income replacement or anything like that. Now notice all the people who are very hard to understand who are working next to you, and are living a dozen to an apartment, and all come to work in one old ratty van. Now sit back and watch the nooze at night and realise the two big choices you are being offered next november when you vote are both multi millionaires, people open doors for them and do their yard work and cooking and whatnot, they always have their choice of champagnes or lobster, and that they ain't sweating the note on nuthin,and notice how2 sincere sounding they are and they "are sympathetic and *just like you*, really, and they will help you, really and truly, not like those past dozens of times when we said it and it didn't happen, but this time it'll be different!"

    REALLY think about that for awhile.

    Think about that for awhile as you go to bed two hours earlier than normal because you can't hardly move anymore, and somehow finding time to go "workout at the gym" doesn't seem to be all that important or worth the cash they charge for it.

    and etc, etc..

    There's stress, then there's stress, besides that employment exercise, can't help you much. Good luckski!
  • by Sedennial (182739) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @02:36PM (#8960122)
    Most of the comments are pretty much what I expected to see when I saw the question. :)

    I have worked (roughly in order) in the woods cutting cedar, landscaper's slave :), in a sawmill, as an apprentice chef (3 years), as a telemarketer, database administrator, financial and mutual fund portfolio analyst (i.e. slave number cruncher) for a financial management firm (for 8 years), a pc technician, tech manager, and now (for 5 years) as lead developer and senior network engineer.

    I've owned two (failed) businesses - both in pc sales and consulting.

    My current job is very high stress and long hours. One person said, "Compartmentalize." Well that doesn't always work. Another said, "You have no stress, only responsibility." I've heard people say that myself to me, but they don't know that our NOC handles PSAP - E911 traffie, PUD substation ethernet monitoring, etc. But I love my current job.

    To all these people who are essentially calling him a whiner, you don't know what he's dealing with unless your in his shoes, so shut up unless you have some useful advice. =)

    ** ADVICE ** Every job I've had has had fairly high stress levels except for the cedar cutting. And eventually they all boil down to about the same level. If you don't want to leave your current job you need to find some activity outside of work that has NOTHING to do with work and uses preferably both physical and mental faculties. Take up a form of martial arts, or a musical instrument. Get involved in your home landscaping. Donate community service physical labor to the elderly in your community taking care or repairing their homes or yards. Get involved in a church that is *involved in your community*.

    These things will help your stress level tremendously, lower your blood pressure, and you will find your job becomes much more pleasureable as well. And physical activity will help you retrain your thought patterns so that you aren't thinking about work all the time.
  • by edunbar93 (141167) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @08:07PM (#8962045)
    I work as the sole sysadmin for a small ISP, which means that I have a pager that can go off any time, any day. Stupid little mistakes like blown semicolons can result in thousands of customers not getting service. And then there's dealing with bonehead customers.

    But I'm not stressed out.

    My boss admittedly helps a lot as he doesn't ask for deadlines, just to get things done as soon as possible, and when it's done it's done. I cooperate by doing my best to make sure things happen. I naturally desire a finished product, and as such they get done in a reasonable amount of time. I also don't treat the job as if the responsibility for the operation of the universe rests solely on my shoulders. Sure, the pager might go off at 3am, and I might have to get my butt to the server room in 15 minutes flat (this is doable for me), but I don't have to act as if every second counts, and that I should shoot everyone that gets in my way. I still manage 99.9% uptime, which is mostly defined by the design of the system and leaving things be anyway.

    My wife works at a Visa call center as a customer service rep. It's a place with high turnover, irritating idiots that ream you out over $5 that they rightfully owe, and high expectations on the part of management. It's also a place where management works hard to make sure they can keep employees longer than two weeks, by offering great benefits, allowing the CSRs to vent about boneheads, bonuses for hard work, and free food. They also have a very clearly defined reward structure for their top performers.

    But what she does for her stress is her gym membership. It's good for her health, it's helping her lose weight, but most importantly, she can beat the crap out of the machines instead of the customers, and exercise generally helps a lot with stress anyway.

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928

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