It’s 3 AM, and you’ve just received an urgent notification on your smartphone. Something is wrong in the server room, and you’re the only one who can fix it. Bleary-eyed, you drag yourself out of bed, grab a coffee, and set to work figuring out what went wrong.
It’s the third time this month, and you know for a fact no one’s going to thank you for keeping things up and running.
Does the story above sound a little familiar? Do you feel like your job is akin to putting out dumpster fires with an eyedropper? Have you started asking yourself why you didn’t just take a philosophy degree instead of computer science?
It’s no secret that cybersecurity professionals tend to be both overworked and underappreciated. And with no end in sight for the cybersecurity skills gap, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. In other words, unless you want to end up a bitter, burnt out mess who starts hating their job, this is something you need to nip in the bud sooner rather than later.
Here are a few ways you can do just that.
- See to your physical health. You might be surprised at the extent to which your physical well-being impacts your performance even in a job like IT, which is largely sedentary. Start making an effort to get in 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, count calories and eat healthier, and make sure you get a solid eight hours of sleep a night (at minimum). If it helps, you might think of your body as a computer – a dirty system with old, failing hardware isn’t going to run as well, no matter how much you optimize the software.
- Look into automation. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are making some big waves in the cybersecurity space. Already, there are plenty of security automation tools on the market, designed to make everything from network monitoring and intrusion detection to active threat mitigation. Speak to your colleagues and see if you can build a use case to justify implementing them – they can go a long way towards reducing your workload.
- Learn to take actual time off. As an IT professional, it’s easy to fall into the trap of never turning off. To be working even when you’re supposed to be taking a weekend to yourself, or dialing in when you’re supposed to be on vacation. It’s not healthy, and it’s not sustainable – you need to set aside at least one day a week that you can cut the cord and relax, or you will eventually crash and burn. It’s only a matter of time.
Your job isn’t easy. If it was, anyone could do it. But by following the advice above, maybe you can make things just a little easier – and make the stress just that much more manageable.