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How Do You Deal w/ User Induced Stress? 171

Posted by Cliff
from the 10-mississippi-9-mississippi-8-mississippi... dept.
Anonymous asks: "I've worked as a Network/System Administrator at a small company for two years now. It's my nature to remain calm and collected while trying to accommodate everyone, even when having a particularly stressful day. After two years though, I've recently found myself being stressed all the time and my calm, cool exterior is starting to show some cracks. How do Slashdot readers cope with the stress induced by a highly demanding job and being stalked by users asking for the same thing over and over (i.e. password resets, login problems, how do you...)?"
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How Do You Deal w/ User Induced Stress?

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  • Easy... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Keebler71 (520908) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:46PM (#10960384) Journal
    Stupidity Induced Beatings.
    • Or you could just laugh at them behind their back.
    • Re:Easy... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Wolfrider (856) <kingneutron@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @01:58AM (#10960984) Homepage Journal
      BOFH: http://www.theregister.co.uk/odds/bofh/ [theregister.co.uk]

      --That, and you NEED to be able to take TIME OFF from work to recover your sanity. Motorcycling helps. Martial arts may help. Spongebob might even help. :)

      --And if all else fails, get the Hell out of your current job and try something different - don't wait until it's too late.
      • I can personally vouch for motorcycling. I ride to and from work 31 miles each way on my 82 honda silverwing. No, it's not a nice bike, but it is two wheels, no cage, and (most importantly) bulletproof reliable with almost 60k miles on it. There's something freeing about being able to see everything around you unobstructed. There's also the thrill of dealing with inept drivers, but that's another story entirely.

        If you're interested, I'd highly recommend checking out The Suzuki SV series, some of the ne
    • ...a valid dogbert tactic [techcomedy.com] (point 19). Unfortunately, dilbert.com seems to no longer exist, and I can't see any archives of the actual cartoon anywhere, but nevertheless would probably get legal threats if I dug out and posted a copy on the 'Net.
  • Define Stress (Score:4, Insightful)

    by superpulpsicle (533373) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:49PM (#10960399)
    In today's economy everyone is working to the point where they don't even know what stress is anymore. There is no "normal days" to remind us what work was supposed to be like.


    • "I'd like to thank everyone that waved with all five fingers."

      - from GWB's recent press conference in Ottawa
    • People allow the work to become stressful.

      In today's economy the unemployment is tremendously low and people are not starving to death on the streets (I am talking developed countries here folks).

      Most people in rich countries have excellent standards of living, but forgot how it is to really be working just to earn enough to eat.

      The point is that the excuse of accepting streess in order to hold the job is laughable. Any person in rich countires willing to work will be able to work.
      • By that standard, the United States no longer counts as a developed country- we've got millions of people who work but don't earn enough to eat.

        The point is that the excuse of accepting streess in order to hold the job is laughable. Any person in rich countires willing to work will be able to work.

        But at what wage?
    • I'm not sure what past you're talking about but working conditions are much better today than they were in years past. How many offices were climate controled in 1900? How much demanding physical labor is done now as apposed to in decades past? Have living conditions and work weeks gotten better or worse? For the most part, you'll find it's better.

      Work is demanding yes, but that's just the nature of work. If you're in a place where stress is not a component of the job, your job and possibly industry w
  • by Plac3bo (651890)
    ...Insanity Later.
  • by saarbruck (314638) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:50PM (#10960402) Homepage
    Against my recommendations, my boss just added a slew of new feature requirements to my project, so now I'm spending even more late nights at work trying to make magic happen. He stops by my office a couple times a day all chipper and excited, and it's all I can do not to strangle the dillweed. How does one professionally convey the message, "I don't like you, I don't respect you, you're not qualified for the job you're doing, get the hell out of my office and let me work." ?


    I'd love to know.

    • by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @12:00AM (#10960458)
      You dont speak his language.

      "The cost/benefit ratio increases dramatically, along with exponentially increasing time to deployment, in that our competitors have a much increased chance of overtaking our solutions.

      My suggestion is that we freeze features for a specified version, and branch our software when we feel that our profit margin is maxed. This would guarantee that we would force our customers to upgrade on our cycle, thus guaranteeing future profits."

      I'm a network engineer in the consulting "business". In order to maintain contracts, you have to do the talk, and speak the language. Money and time are all that matter.
    • I suppose it depends on your job, job security, size of corporation, ease of replacement ... but I find that a good dose of snarkiness [inxile-entertainment.com] can help a long way. Or, with a bit of management support (?!?), we've basically had OT outlawed. You can still do it (and we get paid for OT still), but need prior management approval first. This just delays the projects - does wonders for cutting out the crap.

    • Postal service employees came up quite an effective solution to this problem. It may even be that their new placement as a result of this solution was less stressful than their old one.
    • Start trolling for relevant Dilberts and tape them to the door of your office or wall of your cube. Then start putting them in more conspicuous locations, like the bulletin board over the photo-copier or the lunch room refrigerator.

      You can also write your letter of resignation, print it out, and put one of those "Sign Here -->" Post-It notes on it. Put a pen on it and leave it on your desk. He'll get the message.
    • don't meet the deadlines..

      seriously, if you TOLD him that you wouldn't be able to meet the deadlines you shouldn't meet them -on your own expense-.. if you work crazy overtime to meet them and get the thing done by the deadline, then the boss was right and you were wrong(and he'll feel like the king of the world for being such super manager and knowing better than you what you can get done).

      the worst thing you could do for yourself would do silent overtime...
    • It is a tough situation when you are required to do work for someone you do not respect. I work in a large engineering company and I have to deal with managers who no nothing about engineering all the time. Something I have found that works well is getting to know your boss personally. Now some would vote against this, but I have had no problems now that I know more about my managers.

      I have found that you can learn that the managers are actually smarter than you think. While it may not be technical sma
    • Locking your office door would be a good start.
  • How about psdoom [sourceforge.net], or perhaps just some good ol' fragging in general. Also helps to get with coworkers who deal with the same lusers and comiserate. And, if you got a really bigtime luser with a decent attitude, you can always start the practical jokes. Although, if you follow this route, be sure that all will be taken in jest, and be open to some retaliation....
    • Re:Well... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by treerex (743007)
      Amen. Several years ago on a very stressful project we setup a Nintendo 64 on the big video conference televisions and had four way death matches every day at 18h00 --- it was the perfect way to relieve the tension.

      At a previous job one of the engineers created a Doom map of the corporate head quarters, with appropriate facial skins... he got in a hell of a lot of trouble but it was fun while it lasted.
    • Psdoom is great!

      But beware, shooting at crowds will make the monsters kill eachother (e.g. your X session), potentially taking you down with them. :-)

      z
  • Vodka... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Gangis (310282)
    ...Lots of it. Won't make the problem go away but it'll make you feel better for a while. Job security isn't guaranteed though.
  • Wiki (Score:5, Interesting)

    by akmolloy (686919) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @12:04AM (#10960482)
    I've recently installed a Wiki for our staff, and if I get a question more than once, I add a little How-To for that subject to the Wiki. Now the first question I ask people is if they've checked the Wiki... it's amazing how people have sort of embraced it and are populating it themselves.
    • Re:Wiki (Score:5, Interesting)

      by spacecowboy420 (450426) * <rcasteen@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @02:56AM (#10961177)
      Did that, it kinda worked for the geekier, but the others would complain they didn't have time and had just a simple question.

      Ultimately, I took the low-tech way out, I created an IT request form they had to manually fill out and deposit in my mail drop - I checked them once or twice a day. It at least makes them TRY to deal with their problems themselves since they hated filling out the form, and the turn around could be a bit. I had the VP send out the an email detailing the protocol so it seemed to be out of my hands. Worked wonders.
      • by Zapman (2662)
        If you're company is large enough to have a dedicated helpdesk, that helps a lot. So empower them. Give them limited rights to do the silly stuff that wastes your time, but is required for the smooth running of any IT shop, like changing passwords, releasing emails from spam quarantine, etc.

        --Jason
        • This hurts the legitimate requests as well, though. For example, when we'd request a new database for a project that needed to start that day, right away, we'd be stuck waiting while the administrators (and I loosely use that term since they were about as smart as a bag of rocks - and not the normal rocks, but the mentally challenged sort that think administrating a MySQL database is hard work) sat and surfed the web, listening to MP3s. Of course, my project manager, who could only aspire to the status of s
      • I would also check out something like Mindmeld [sourceforge.net]. It seems to have a lot of the features of a wiki, but with a completely different interface (Ask Jeeves style, you type in the question and it gives you the answer).
    • Re:Wiki (Score:2, Insightful)

      by anti-trojan (741754)
      A related idea is to launch an issue tracking system (ala Bugzilla). Delay requests that they submit to you via other methods (phone etc) and even the toughest ones will eventually begin to use it.
  • The best way not to be annoyed by users is, um, not to be annoyed by users:

    1) Make a form for everything; web form, paper form, whatever.
    2) Take away all admin rights. This keeps them from annoying you with things they fscked up. If they need anything important, see #1.
    3) Don't do "training". If they can't figure out how to do their jobs, what the hell are you teaching them for?
  • LET IT OUT! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @12:09AM (#10960508) Homepage
    The worst thing to do with stress/emotion is to hide it and keep it away. Sure, there are definitely occasions when you need to keep your cool, but if you fid yourself having to do it constantly every day, get out fast. You will find yourself doing something rash and stupid which you will most definitely regret later on if you let it all build up.
    • Sure, but do it in the right context. The worst thing you can do with your stress is to give it to somebody else. After all, that's how you got it from your users, and look what it did to you!

      So if you're gonna scream, do it far away from everyone else. Your goal isn't to get sympathy from others, it's to let the stress out of your system.
    • The worst thing to do with stress/emotion is to hide it and keep it away. Sure, there are definitely occasions when you need to keep your cool, but if you fid yourself having to do it constantly every day, get out fast.

      Repressing is bad, you're right. But acting out on it can make you jut more prone to experiencing it more often.

      In some schools of thought, indulging in stress and anger is almost as bad as repressing it.

      Find a nice, healthy way to relieve it instead of just either imploding or exploding

  • Wild idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PurpleFloyd (149812) <zeno20@attbi. c o m> on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @12:13AM (#10960529) Homepage
    First, I'd like to say that it's excellent you can keep your sanity in your job; lots of sysadmins deal with these problems by simply going hyper-cynical or homicidal [ntk.net].

    However, an idea might be to ask your boss about the possibility of hiring a minimum-wage intern. When I was in college, I would have cheerfully killed to get a job working in IT that provided real-world experience, rather than cleaning greasetraps or restocking warehouses. You'd have to be careful about trustworthiness, but a minion to answer phones, deal with users who habitually leave caps lock on, and make coffee could significantly decrease your workload while not costing your company too much money.

    Your boss might well go for it, especially if you explain that there's just too much work for one person, and that you can either get an intern or hire another full-time IT worker. This way, your plan actually saves money (at least compared to the alternatives you present). Even if the boss doesn't go for it, there's very little to lose by trying it. Good luck!

  • by TykeClone (668449) * <TykeClone@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @12:16AM (#10960543) Homepage Journal
    Reset passwords, create login problems...
  • next time you have to go through an explanation, record it. Make a label for the entry. Accumulate different topics until you have a nice fat cd full of subjects.. Use labels like "AAAk! no password" and "browser is slow/doesn't work" "where's my email?" "how do I..." whatever. Along those lines, with the appropriate response. Burn a lot of CDs with the info, then just smile, hand one over to the latest customer, say "it's on there, first cd is free,you lose it, after that it's ten bucks". Or alternate, run
    • Better solution:

      1. Record solution to problem as audio file on your PC
      2. Listen to neeping
      3. Select proper audio file
      4. Play file for (l)user
      5. Hang up
      6. Repeat as necessary

      Note: Step 2 is optional. The alternative is just click a random audio file.

  • Remember, for the vast majority of users, their requests are reasonable, and you are just doing your job. Have some self-control, learn not to let every little thing stress you out.

    Its not your environment, its how you approach your environment. Remember, you are a clueless user as well, don't think you are special because you know a bit about computers.

  • Here's what I do... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hank Reardon (534417) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @12:24AM (#10960591) Homepage Journal

    This completely depends on whether or not it's your job to handle these things immediately. If it is, then you're kind of out of luck as not doing them means you're not doing your job.

    I'm also guessing that you don't mind helping the "nice users" who only ask the "how do I" type questions once and maybe come back again asking for some clarifications on the "why" part of the particular question; I love these users, as they want to learn and help me do my job.

    For the users who fit into the "I'll use the admin as my manual" type, quit being nice. Explain something once and, when they ask the same question again, hand them a note pad and remind them that they asked you that same question sometime previously. Suggest that notes be taken. On the third offense, hand them a 3.5 card with "http://www.google.com" written on it and tell them that you are an administrator and that you are more than happy to help them learn a particular concept, but you just don't have the time to be their personal man page.

    Do note that to "quit being nice" does not mean to treat them like crap, yell, scream or otherwise throw a fit. I'm trying to get these users to quit using my brain and start using theirs. I'm more than happy to help them with some bit of wisdom once they've demonstrated to me that they're not just lazy.

    Passwords I handle in a similar manner. I have the "Monday password club" on my whiteboard with the name of everybody who asks me to reset their password Monday morning because they just can't remember it after a two day weekend. It takes two consecutive Mondays to make the list. Next to the names are the number of "successful" and "failed" Mondays. Passwords are reset to "IForgotMyPasswordXXWeeksStr8" where XX is the number of weeks on the whiteboard. The smarter of the users will come down when they've forgotten their passwords and see my tally. After four weeks on the board, the users are sufficiently trained and I remove their names.

    • by spiralscratch (634649) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @02:09AM (#10961038)
      After four weeks on the board, the users are sufficiently trained and I remove their names.

      No, they've learned to write down their passwords on post-it notes stuck to their monitors or elsewhere. Or, their password is "password" or their name or something similarly stupid.

      They may stop calling on this because they think you're berating them (though I don't), or they may finally feel some guilt. But I can almost guarantee they are not learning anything useful from this.
      • No, they've learned to write down their passwords on post-it notes stuck to their monitors or elsewhere. Or, their password is "password" or their name or something similarly stupid.

        Yep. But they leave me alone. :)

        In today's IT market, I can't afford to have my projects slip because I'm being a nice guy. At best I'll tell them "open a trouble ticket and I'll get to it" so that I have documentation of how short a particular problem user's memory is.

    • by spiff42 (718678)
      >Passwords are reset to "IForgotMyPasswordXXWeeksStr8" where XX is the number of weeks on the whiteboard.

      Remember not to do this with old-style crypted (DES-based) passwords, since only the first 8 characters (and only 7LSB of these characters) are used, so "IForgotM" will work too. ;-)

      /Spiff

      • Not a problem in our network; all boxes use the nice, long shadow passwords or some home-brewed PAM/LDAP abortion.

        • That doesn't matter. It's the hashing algorithm that the grandparent is talking about. Make sure it's MD5 or SHA1, and not DES. DES will ignore everything after the 8th character, regardless of LDAP/PAM/shadow.

          Oh, and now I can share my I-think-I-am-going-to-stab-you stupidity story. I work for the "A-triple-C" (Academic Computing and Communications Center [uic.edu]). Some guy comes in and needs his password reset. Fine. I tell him he needs to visit passwords.accc.uic.edu to pick a permanent password. His re
  • FAQ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @12:35AM (#10960636)
    "being stalked by users asking for the same thing over and over (i.e. password resets, login problems, how do you...)"

    If you have a large number of people asking the same things over and over again, you ought to have (as the name suggests) a FAQ. Keep it up to date and relevant to the problems people have, and it will save you (and them) time.

    If a bunch of people are confused about the same issue, maybe the process they have to follow should be made more user friendly? Usually when a lot of people have the same problem, it is a genuine problem, and not them being idiots. If they *are* idiots there's not much you can do to fix that, so try increasing user-friendliness first. :D

    Keep in mind there is a good kind of lazy. Any tools you can create to save work for yourself and others in the future, is the good kind of lazy. So spend a couple hours writing a shell script, so that you can save 20 minutes each time a problem comes up again and again. Eliminate mindless repetitive tasks as much as possible, and you'll save yourself time, and the time you do work will be more enjoyable.
  • by cyberman11 (581822) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @12:49AM (#10960715)
    I find that cutting back my responsibilities in all areas of life helps. For example, if I'm having money problems, I move to a cheaper place, drive a cheaper car, etc... When my home life and personal life feel comfortable and easily manageable, with enough free time for fun stuff, I can handle work stress way more easily. If work is the only source of stress in my life, and I can't handle it, I cut back my work hours. If management expects, for example, sixty hours a week for my salary, then I give them two weeks notice of my change in availablility to fewer hours with a proportional reduction in salary. If I can't handle the salary reduction, then I've got to cut my expenses. It's simple. If I'm stressed out, that means I'm asking myself to do too much. Sometimes a humble life is the best life.
  • Exercise! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by krs-one (470715) <vic@ope3.1415926nglforums.com minus pi> on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @01:00AM (#10960768) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, exercise, to me at least, is one of the best stress relievers.

    I'm an amateur bodybuilder working his way up so I would normally be training in the gym everyday anyway, but its great to go in the gym after a day of dealing with users/customers and slamming some iron around. The weights don't care how you treat them, its great. Plus, when you've got 400lbs on your back, the last thing you're worried about is why Susie Q. can't duplicate an event on her calendar.

    Finally, exercising, even a little amount just 3 days a week (think 20 minutes 3 days a week, 1 friggin hour!) will change your life drastically. You'll sleep better, find you naturally eat better, and are much less stress free.

    Sorry to sound so preachy, but I used to be a fat computer nerd, and I started training, got hooked, and totally changed my life around. Look into it.

    -Vic
    • Re:Exercise! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dubl-u (51156) * <2523987012@pota . t o> on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @10:40AM (#10963333)
      I'm also a big fan of exercise. To minimize my stress levels, I like long, moderate cardiovascular exercise, like bike rides and fast walking. I also find yoga really helpful.

      The trick for me was noticing that when I get stressed, I tend to stop exercising because I'm too busy. Now I tell myself that's bullshit; if I'm busy, the most important thing to do is to maintain my capacity for getting things done. And being relaxed and happy does wonders for my productivity.
  • by patrick42 (212568) <slashdot AT patrickg DOT com> on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @01:28AM (#10960875) Homepage
    In a job like that, it would make things a lot less stressful and more fun if you smoked the occasional j-stick before work. I suggest doing right before your shower so that you don't smell. You'll have a nice grin on your face, and people's problems won't seem to bad.

    I also agree with the person who posted about exercise. I started working out three times a week over a year ago, and now I go anywhere from three to five times a week. It definitely helps with stress, and has the added benefit of making you feel a lot better about yourself, too.
    • by b17bmbr (608864)
      if you smoked the occasional j-stick before work.

      I also agree with the person who posted about exercise.

      isn't that kinda contradictory?
  • Put up a sign! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by loubear (760016) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @01:32AM (#10960891)

    That way, you get to express yourself, and keep the advantage of indirection: "Not YOU, of course. Or maybe YOU, especially". Let the reader decide, and have a laugh, too.

    When my stress level maxed out, I posted a price list for questions, akin to the mechanics' price list that starts out "If you fixed it first...", and "If you watch...". The highest price on my list was for "Why..." questions. These days, it might be on your web form users fill in to alert you to their particular brand of misery. Then, it was posted in my cubicle.

  • BOFH... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Shag (3737) *
    Get thee to The Register, and read the BOFH stuff. ALL of it.

    That'll give you a few ideas to get started.
  • One thing I do is if I have a user who repeatedly does the same thing over and over, I will go to that person's manager and report it as a training issue. Usually getting bitched out by your manager is enough to make you get your shit together, but on the rare occasion I've unfortunately been directly responsible for having a particular troublesome user fired. C'est la vie....
  • I worked for a university where my boss felt that "people worked best under pressure". So he constantly created situations to stress us out with. Like: Waiting until the day before a $500k proposal is due and force the staff to work all through the night (my record was a 17 hours at the office).

    I hadnt worked there but for a little while -- and the same with the secretary (we were the only two staff members, everyone else were students, etc). Once a month perhaps, we would let our boss drive us nuts.

  • by fuzzybunny (112938) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @02:54AM (#10961167) Homepage Journal
    Wield the LARG [catb.org], clue bat, maulinator, whatever.

    Seriously, at a very very stressful contract job I once had, I inherited a baseball bat (fine wood Louisville Slugger) from my predecessor (covering whose escape from there was the agreed-upon purpose of my presence there.) I named it "Molly", from the Neuromancer character Molly Millions.

    The thing had come into existence years previously, during a horrible project that was totally overbudget and schedule, where a psycho manager had apparently walked around wielding the bat and a sword and screaming things like "I'm gonna break some fuckin' heads!" When he was called into a meeting, someone stole the bat and sword--nobody knows where the blade is now, but generations of network security guys husbanded the bat until I got it.

    I brought it to meetings and to server rooms in emergencies, as kind of a safety blanket. We got really good at training our clientele (major international bank) to understand that we were there for them, we'd fix all their problems, but (a) they had to ask nicely, (b) they had to come to us with the issue, and (c) they'd have to trust us.

    We always came through, which translated into a lot of credibility, but also meant that we had the best-stocked "thank you" bar in the whole company, but sitting in your office, listening to some flustered manager blubbering about a dead trading system while patting Molly (but always smiling!) was pretty funny.

    It got to the point where it became an icon around the bank--people on the internal IRC channels picked up on it, so whenever someone made some horribly stupid security-related remark, there'd be a loaded pause before somebody would make a comment along the lines of "uh, xxx, I think Molly would like to speak with you"...

    So as you see, it's all a question of user re-education, tovarich.
    • At one of my jobs, the server room had an axe hanging on the wall.

      We called it the Management Tool.

      It was good for hardware management and personnel management, but we never found a way to use it for software management.

      • That rocks.

        That's almost as good as the elegant wood/brass plaque labelled "complaints department, take a number".

        It has a hand grenade mounted on it, with a little red tag marked '1' attached to the pin.
  • You say it's a small company and I don't know if you have a PFY or anything.

    Often it pays to not be too nice or at least not as nice as the other guy people can go to for "help". People will subconsciously go to the person they feel most comfortable talking to for help. Make sure it isn't you.

    Users are stupid. This is a sad fact of life; look on the bright side - if they weren't, some of us would be out of a job.

    Make sure you log requests in some form of Helpdesk as evidence. The people who repeatedl
  • There are two groups of repitious requests:
    • Users who never learn -- find out how to diplomatically suggest training.
    • Jobs that never go away -- Automate or simplify so that the job can be handed to someone else.

    There's more than this, but these two groups account for most of my stress, such as it is. If there's a key individual that you simply can't get on with, try ignoring them. This rarely works, but give it a go. If they insist on making your life difficult (stress without reason, confrontation witho

  • That's why you're under stress. I've done it before, and at times do it intentionally, yet every time I'm punished for it.

    How do I deal with it? Oh, let me count the ways...

    Pre-emptive: After knocking out the obvious and preventable problems, I keep a list of issues as they come up. I then knock them out as well or...decide not to do them at all. In some cases, you can bargain with people on the solution. In any case, you shouldn't have to manually do the same thing twice unless it is a physical

  • How does your boss know how much you work? Is there a ticket tracking system for all these little requests? Who do you bill for the stupid user questions? Which department is the worst?

    Being able to show how these little problems use up time that you could be spending doing important maintenance [microsoft.com] or security tasks [slashdot.org] may encourage management to help you out a little.

  • by undef24 (159451) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @04:55AM (#10961590)
    Here is my outlook, let me know your thoughts...

    If you're at work for X hours, does it really matter how you're spending your time? Just kill your ego a bit and don't worry about it. You are being paid for your time, so if people want to waste it, then complain to management the same as you would if they sit there reading a magazine all day instead of working.

    If the problem is keeping track of your TODO list, then you just need to get organized. What would you do if you were a software developer and someone kept giving you new bug reports? You'd log them in a list sorted by priority. Can you do the same here?

    If this "stress" is caused be being forced to work more than the original alloted hours, then that should be a different Ask Slashdot question: "What should I do when I get asked to work overtime when i'm not getting paid?"
  • BOFH [ntk.net]

    But don't look at it as humour... ... rather see it as a quide.
  • Pehaps you don't properly understand the nature of your job.

    Find a different job. If you find yourself treating your users like crap because you hate them for being idiots then you're in the wrong line of work. Get some skills and move on to something else, preferably at a different company so you don't have 5-6 hours a day of the same old support calls since users know to come to you.

    If you want to keep the job, then be much more proactive. Seek out trouble users and _ask_them_ if they need help. After f
  • Dealing with stress (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    First of all, accept that stress may be an inevitable and expected part of your job. Most jobs, from graduate-entry level up to and including Chairman of the Board are inherantly stressful. If you don't want this or can't deal with it at all... go flip burgers.

    Work-related stress is not unique to the IT field. Nor is the problem of having to deal with users you think of as stupid (although in other fields, they may be called customers, clients, stakeholders or some other term, rather than users). I've noti
  • The users won't change.
    Not all problems can be 'solved'. This is one of them.

    You need to accept you will get these same requests forever. I have managed to adapt myself to just calmy continue, and it doesn't bother me anymore, it isn't like I know everything, I barely remember what I've just been told.

    If you can't handle this, work somewhere else, but many jobs are like this.
  • hobbies? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BigBir3d (454486)
    sounds like you need a better hobby outside of work. something completely and totally non-IT related. you gotta be able to leave work at work. it sounds like you are not de-stressing enough when you leave. has something changed recently? loss of sig other perhaps?
    </dr phil>

    go out and have some fun dude!
  • Okay, well, it started out as Doom, then Doom II, then Duke 3D, then Quake ... a little bit of Counter Strike... you get the idea.

    5:00 to 5:30pm every workday.

    The boss accepted it, as we explained that it was 'network testing'.

    For some reason, my coworkers accused me of being Dogbert after replying to the suggestion box in a negative way, after working 'till 2am to get the annual report for our group done, and then answering the questions, while the others had gone off drinking:
  • People are just as much a part of the system you are administering as the software and hardware, and all three have "glitches" in them that you will have to deal with on a daily basis. Do everyone who depends on you a favor and take a break from reality for a while until you get your head screwed back on right, because frankly your attitude makes you useless to the users.
  • is good people.

    There's nothing better than a good laugh over a few beers with somebody who understands how crappy customers can treat you.

    I don't mean a bunch of malcontents either -- that'll make things worse. You can't fight a bad attitude with a bad attitude.
  • Baseball ball.



    (Directions: apply liberally until problem ceases.)

  • by austad (22163)
    Seriously. If your job causes you anguish instead of satisfaction, you need to leave. It's making your quality of life suffer. You only live once, it's not worth it. Trust me, I've dealt with the same thing.

  • Have you considered the usefulness of substance abuse? I've always found that drinking worked really well when a locked door didn't separate you from your users. Luckier still, sometimes you have an office with a lock on the door so that you can get a few belts in between luser visits.

    But seriously...

    I kinda meditate on the fact that the requests only seem inane because I know how to do them, or I am the gatekeeper for getting them done. And, it's helpful to keep reminding myself that I'm getting paid to
  • Don't jump to handle every request. You have to wean the group of "admin as manual" users. When they call just politely say, "I'm handling another request and I'll be there in 10 minutes. Most of the time when I got back to them they tell me that they figured it out. I'd complement them and go on my way. It takes practice to find answers on your own and people won't do it unless nudged.

    Note: this applies to admins as well. I recently read an article commenting on how admins/programmers in shops using lots
  • The best way to handle stress is not to accept it in the first place.

    Stress is entirely within yourself, resulting from friction with that which is outside of you. If you don't let the friction occur, the stress won't either.
  • by Clover_Kicker (20761) <clover_kicker@yahoo.com> on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @10:31AM (#10963263)
    They really do help channel the hatred in a non-destructive way.

    And some people will get the hint - when someone comes over to ask a dumb question, they'll notice that the perfectly polite sysadmin is crushing the living fuck out of that stress ball.

    PS - Buy 2 or three at a time, they wear out fairly quickly.

  • Lobby for more help (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Linuxathome (242573) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @10:39AM (#10963321) Homepage Journal
    The human body and psyche is not equipped to deal with constant and chronic stress. Get at the source of the stress and don't try to manage the symptoms all the time. The simplest answer is that you need additional workers in your department to help you. With this solution comes lots of other problems: management, fear of losing one's job, etc. Don't be selfish and hoard your jobs for fear that you'll lose it -- I'm not saying you're doing it specifically, but I see some people in IT have this mentality. Don't be surprised that you have to do some MORE work to get help -- collecting data on the hours spent (or wasted) doing menial tasks and conveying it to upper management. Good luck and always remember to get at the source of the problem -- plugging holes here and there is not the solution, and this pertains not just to your health but the entire configuration of your work's network and computer system.

  • For me, one big stress source is having more to do than I can get done. Instead, you should turn things around so that you work a fixed number of hours and always get the most important things done.

    The trick is to get your bosses to accept that a your work will never be done. I prefer to handle this by keeping a to-do list that's in strict linear order of priority, hopefully ordered by the bosses. Then I make sure every week that they know how much I got done, so that they focus on that rather than how muc
  • Get organized. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:27AM (#10963754) Homepage Journal
    You should have a procedure in place to deal with requests.

    Even the smallest company can benefit from some procedures.

    A form, a website, emails (visible to everybody).

    What you want to achieve:

    - Organize the work in order to prioritize it.
    - Quantify the work that you are doing. If 9 to 5 is not enough time to do all the work you should be able to prove it, And by no means work a single minute more than what you are paid for, otherwise resourcing problems will never become evident.
    - If you are overwhelmed you can shift the decision about what gets priority to your boss. That is why bosses exist, they deal with the unpleaseant part. hey get well paid for that, let them earn their money.
    - Is somebody comes to chase you point to your input tray (whatever form it takes). If Somebody is too insistent then inform other people that you are giving him priority. If your boss is not sorting out things, then let the users "help you" with the prioritization.

    Bureaucracy is your ally if you know how to use it in your advantage.
  • by nuintari (47926)
    I go home and have sex with my significant other, that usually makes me forget even the loudest, rudest and stupidest of customers.

    Of course, this is a non option for most geeks.
  • An admin's job is to make sure no IT problems rise to management's purview. That includes acting as a buffer between management and users. If this guy thought he was hired to play with computers, he's wrong.
  • You need to find some activity that will allow you to forget about work. The title suggestion can help with that. I also use autocross and snowboarding as forget about work activities. It's easy to forget about annoying users when:
    • You have a (mostly) naked person sitting in front of you, especially after a few drinks.
    • You're pushing your car to the limits of its grip
    • You're zooming down a mountain with possibility of great bodily injury.

    I maintain network/security equipment for about 1000 users

  • If you're stressed, there are two hormones you need to watch: adrenaline and cortisone. Adrenaline gives you that rush when you're busy, but it subsides slower than it builds up, so extended crunch time will give you too much adrenaline. Then, cortisone kicks in. Sadly, cortisone is just like that acid in your muscles (I forget the name) -- it's short-term relief that only adds to your hormonal imbalance.

    So, what you need to do is mentally relieve yourself once in a while. I realize that's not the best thi
  • Kill them, lest you lose your sanity.

    At your trial plead temporary insanity.

    If David Berkowitz could say his neighbors dog said to kill people, then I'm sure a "The Windows B.S.O.D. told me to", would work just as well.
  • Go to the range (Score:3, Interesting)

    by raider_red (156642) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @05:19PM (#10979523) Journal
    I go to the range and run about 200 rounds through my Glocks every week. I don't even think about work when I do it. The repetitive action, noise, and effort at hitting the target has a very calming effect. My cousin compares it to other martial arts for stress relief. (She just earned her black belt in Karate.)

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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