You’ve been doing your job for a while now…years or even decades. Do you still love the tech? Yeah. Do you like the work? Meh. Are you bored? Likely. It is actually possible to like something and still be bored by the daily slog of closing tickets and teaching people how to read instructions (ask me how I know). If this sounds like you, take heart. I see you. I hear you. I feel you.
How do we keep our interest fresh when the work is the same day after day?
Update the Role
While we can’t simply change our role at work overnight, we can make changes to the day-to-day work. And if those updates are productive enough, that could spur a role change. But what kinds of changes? How do we figure out what to change without sounding like we’re trying to take over?
Keep in mind that every company is different - some love their employees to color outside the box, some don’t. I’ll try to give you some ideas to use as a springboard to push through your own boundaries. Take what you like…
Look through your ticketing system. Become the expert on its reports feature. Use that expertise in perusing the types of tickets you’re getting and, when you see a pattern, create a workflow or a user training that could lessen (or eliminate) those repetitive tickets.
Expanding on that, create an incentive system (they’re probably bored too) for users to apply some self-help procedures before opening a support ticket. By lessening the ticket load, it will open up more opportunities for you to tackle more interesting projects. It could also get you recognized by management in all the good ways.
Change Up Your Routine
But work isn’t your whole life, right? Sometimes the change you need to freshen up your flow exists outside the 9-5. For example, you could…
Start a blog and write something twice a week. It doesn’t have to be world shaking, just something that’s important to you.
Turn on some music (or turn off the music and talk to people). Something opposite of what you’re doing now.
Reorganize your day - create some space in your day or in your week that is no-meeting time. Block this out on your calendar and then use that time for project work. Or use that time for growth activities.
Growth activities? I’m talking about learning a new but adjacent skill, of course. Continuing education. Training. Skills updating. It’s the drive to be more, to be 1% better every day. I am a big fan of continuing ed. I like learning new things - it keeps my brain sharp and I get to bring new skills to my work. I consider myself to be a sprint-learner. I will glom on to something and learn all I can in a short amount of time. Maybe it’s my attention span. <shrug> It would be nice to be more of an IT Athlete, someone for whom learning is more like a marathon than a sprint.
Do you consider yourself to be an IT Athlete - training every day? Or do you prefer to learn a skill when you need the skill? No judgment here, there’s pros and cons to both.
The IT Athlete
I like a lot of things about working here at JumpCloud (I must, I’m still not over the honeymoon and it’s been 18 months). One of the things I love is the opportunity to continue to learn things that are in my purview, honing and expanding the skills I use for my column. But I also have the opportunity to learn about things outside my comfort zone, things of my own choosing that enrich me and help me grow as a person which translates into being a more effective employee, if we’re being honest.
In the interest of transparency, the things that I’m enjoying learning are - admittedly - weird. For instance, I’m taking an online course in Google Sheets. While it’s just a sprint of learning, I spend a bit of time every day (like an athlete in training). Everything I’m learning is interesting to me plus I use it in my work so the learning gets ingrained in my brain (use it or lose it, folks). With that education in my pocket, I’ve been able to develop some cool tools for IT Admins and MSPs. But more than that and selfishly speaking, the expanded knowledge gives me a personal boost. And that personal boost helps me keep the Imposter Syndrome at bay.
How many of us have taken trainings from Apple? We would sit together in the classroom and hand-on learn all about configuring server17.pretendco.com. Class was a week long and our brains would be dripping out of our ears by the end of the week. It was always a great week and worth the time and expense. It honed skills and taught principles that we could take back to our IT Admin world. We had learned enough to know how to ask the right questions so we could, in turn, learn more independently.
Both learning styles have their benefits and I use some combination of the two to continually improve myself and to keep my day-to-day interesting.
Why Fresh is Important
As an employee, we need to keep in mind that businesses change. Strategies change. Heck, technology changes by the day (sometimes it feels like it changes minute to minute!). We have to keep up with changes or be left behind. And when things take a dramatic turn - such as they did at the beginning of the year when so many companies did layoffs (and as I suspect will happen when AI really matures), we all need to have more arrows in our quivers than what we have today. And that’s scary.
Creating freshness in your day to day can work to enhance your position, can keep your mind occupied and away from worrying, and can give you an interest boost in your current work. And it doesn’t have to be done in large measures. Small changes, over time, will move the needle and you’ll have a better chance of incorporating them into your daily life if they’re small and progressive.