Working with Disaster Recovery, Stress and Burnout, How do you deal with it?

  • 11 January 2022
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Hi Folks,

 

While not a technical subject, nevertheless since we are working with Veeam and that implies Disaster Recovery I am pretty certain many of you have been in the high pressure trenches of Severity One situations.

Unless you have nerves of steel inevitably this will start to take a toll on your health and well being. People here are veterans of this profession so you have obviously found ways to survive and handle this. I thought it would be good to share what we all do to keep our sanity. Mind you I have been told I was never sane to begin with so you can’t lose what you don’t have but 🙂

For me humor is the saving grace.

Laughing is like a reset button and it wipes the slate clean of all the built up pressure and anxieties and not just with IT related issues. In every situation I try to find a funny side of things. For example two weeks ago when I went to have my eyes checked again. I knew that they were going to tell me that I needed new glasses. Sure enough they did and started to offer me the best $$$$$ of their collection.  Frames with model runway names like Milano Simpaticos, or Parisian Passion etc. The young lady told me that with glasses I needed comfort as well as to look good. In and attempt to lower the price range I tried to explain that at my age trying to look good was an exercise in futility and not necessary since I was long past the dating scene.

Furthermore I was in IT and really interested in Kubernetes (the word Kubernetes always raises eyebrows in the unaware and inspires fear, suspicion and bewilderment 😉 )  so my goal was to look as computer nerdy as possible, perhaps they had a line of glasses called “Wonder Wallys Basement Specials” or “Mediocre Math Magicians”? Nope it seems everyone is trying to look good nowadays so I ended up with the lightweight “Tinder Temptations” or something like that ( I was focused on the number of digits next to the word price and forgot the name) .

To further add insult to injury a few days later I got a response from my benefits company which started off with the usual heartless attempts at ego stroking, “Dear Mr. Burke, we would like to take this opportunity yet again to tell you just how much we love you as a customer, your presence among the other 10 billion customers is unique and we feel immense joy that you Mr. “Microsoft basic macro error ID 2343 client ID 2413251512525 not found” continue to love and trust us.  HOWEVER… we are terribly sorry and deeply mourning the fact that since you chose the “Milano Simpatico” super sexy line of Porsche eye glasses and not the “Wonder Wally Basement Bargains” we will only be able to cover 1/10 of the cost. (Translation dress up for the disco or rave party on your own dime!!!). 

So instead of getting angry, stressed out and having a heart attack I thought up this little story about my new glasses and feel much better. 

P.S. I do look real cool in my new glasses. Now if only those Veeam shoes would show up in the mail I would be ready to party!!!


9 comments

Userlevel 7
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This is a great topic, @Geoff Burke! And your stories are always hilarious :smile:

Humor is definitely the savior, but also work-life balance needed for a great combo.

Sports (I do Pilates ) and walks (fresh air) help to manage stress too!

Also, I believe it IS a skill to switch off from work when you are on vacation. I am not that good at this yet, but working on it :smile:

Userlevel 7
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This is a great topic, @Geoff Burke! And your stories are always hilarious :smile:

Humor is definitely the savior, but also work-life balance needed for a great combo.

Sports (I do Pilates ) and walks (fresh air) help to manage stress too!

Also, I believe it IS a skill to switch off from work when you are on vacation. I am not that good at this yet, but working on it :smile:

Yes sports for certain. I left that out by accident. Physical activity is a must to balance all of this screen time :)

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I’d like to share my story of what happens if you do everything wrong here, it taught me perspective and how to distance myself from the external pressures.

 

One morning I received a call, the team that work early couldn’t use the IP phones, they all had no access to the PBX. I lived round the corner and as the one on call I popped into the office to have a look, the site had been open for about 3 months and as the IT manager I’d architected it myself so I felt well prepared for these issues.

 

I was expecting to see a failure of an internet connection or something obvious but nope that was all working. I plugged into the port the phone was using with a laptop and all was fine, I had internet and site to site connectivity, same for the other ports…

 

I was using Cisco switches and it appeared the separate VLAN used for Voice Devices had changed. Turns out at some point in the night the switch had gone to its backup config (not just start-up, but the old backup). So I thought, aha I’ve found it, I’ll set the VLAN again and we’ll be good. It was, all the phones are coming ip, great! Only 15 minutes of downtime!

 

Then the phones started dying again, losing connection to the PBX. I’m scouring through the settings to think of anything else that could be wrong. 30 minutes later and still nothing.

 

I get a call from the MD, the sales team is missing their peak hour of business now, I’m costing them money as it’s not fixed, what’s the problem? When I said I don’t know and I’m looking at it, the answer was “🤬 sake” and then the phone was hung up. Turns out nobody had told me the internet had gone down at the same time as the switches had rebooted themselves to the backup config AGAIN and had reverted my setting AGAIN. I would discover this another 30 minutes later after checking EVERY setting once more.

 

I took that pressure personally, I felt I was letting everyone down, I felt the frustration from my boss was aimed at me. Then my chest started to hurt.

As everything was up and running I left the site and went to the hospital, it was of course, stress. It took me all day to go through their tests and find that thankfully, there was nothing underlying wrong with me. But my mind had triggered a physically painful reaction in my body.

 

The time sat waiting at the hospital and reflecting on it since gave me time to adjust my outlook:

  • Nothing is more important than your health, a company can never love you back, so don’t commit yourself to it.
  • My boss wasn’t angry at me, he was feeling the stress himself at the situation and the impact on the business.
  • Everyone was actually supportive and knew I was doing my best, people that don’t work around obstacles just don’t want to do their job, everyone that took their job seriously had relied on email or mobile phones. Sometimes a Severity 1 is just labelled that to get a prompt response.

You’ll barely see a reaction change in me now when there’s a severity 1. After years of practising I now do the following:

  • Ask who’s my key contact at the customer to relay information.
  • Ask what has been done.
  • If unclear, clarify the steps to reduce the priority, workarounds vs issue resolved.
  • Keep an eye on morale, odds are everyone else is facing their own pressures and panic, a well timed joke or comment can remind people you’re supporting them and reduce their stress levels.
  • Remind them they’re doing their best.
  • The way you’re presenting yourself and acting will set a tone, if you’re worried/anxious/unsure, people will become those things. Remain calm, take the few minutes to do the background research and make the best judgement calls you can as a result. People can then see a plan forming and follow it.

 

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Thank you for sharing, @MicoolPaul

Fully support your current outlook :blush:

Even though it isn’t that easy not to take things personally when you are passionate about your job :smile:It’s constant learning and self-training :blush:

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@MicoolPaul AMEN.

The quote “Nothing is more important than your health, a company can never love you back, so don’t commit yourself to it” need to be printed and put on the door so can be viewed every day.

As you I do the mistake of taking everything very personally, with the result that panic attacks started to show up. Subsequently, due to stress, I became intolerant to many foods and quality of life has become worse.

To the present day, I have not yet found a definitive solution to this (excluding giving up the IT world and going to be an ice cream man) but I can share what I found that helps:

  • Sport, sport, sport;
  • Walking, walking, walking;
  • Reduce coffee from 6 to 1 a day;
  • I started writing children’s stories, and end up publishing two books with two publishers;
  • Look at the sky and remind me that our problems are insignificant to the rest of the world.
  • And a magic healingherbs ltd essence (not joking, it works for panic attacks)

 

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Also, I believe it IS a skill to switch off from work when you are on vacation. I am not that good at this yet, but working on it :smile:

@Kseniya

No worries there. Myself, I get most productive in the community and R&D Forums when I‘m on vacation 😂

I tried, but I‘ll never be able to separate my free time and hobby from my work life.  😃


I‘m only able to switch off for some time, when I‘m on my hikes in the swiss alps and find some cool animals like marmots, ibexes or squirrels. 

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I think nobody is immune to stress or pressure in case something bad happens. Even if you try to be calm, sometimes or at a certain point it will just not work. One thing I've noticed is, that issues are never that bad as you think they are; at the end of the day the world still keeps turning and the company/customer will continue with it’s daily business. And for me it's most important that, regardless of what has happend, you can still look at yourself in a mirror. If someone keeps putting pressure on you or gives you the fault for something, pause for a second and think about it; if you can honestly say that you did your best, then there's nothing to feel bad about.

A great tip, which I've read many times about, is to write things down when you can't get them out of your head. Take a piece of paper, write everything on it which comes to your mind and you'll be free again 😉

However, what I haven't found a solution yet is the bad memory you get when being stressed or having to much tasks. No notebook or task list has been a help on that so far...

Userlevel 7
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Thanks for this story, @Geoff Burke, it already made my day :older_man_tone2::joy:

Stress is not always a bad thing, but the bad should be reduced for sure. Some things that helps me:

  • doing sports and yoga
  • humor and learn to laugh at yourself
  • conscious rest periods
  • NEVER EVER take work more important than your life, your health and your family
  • get a spare-keyboard in case the current one does not withstand a massive blow from a fist
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Just remember that you’re the one that can fix it, if anyone else could do it you’d be doing something else.   I always remember this when the stuff hits the fan and C-levels are breathing down my neck.

 As a service provider I’ve had to remind an irate customer or two that harassing me while I work definitely won’t speed things along.   They usually apologize once things are up and running smooth again.  It’s always a great feeling to know you remained cool as a cucumber while everyone else else was losing their cool.

I’ve been in the business of backing up data since the days of using zip.exe to span across floppy disks one at a time.   If the buck stops with you and the thought of your customer’s backup or your business’ backup reliability doesn’t cross your mind at least once before you go to sleep…..you need to find another career.

Don’t stress, but don’t become aloof either.

(cardio)

 

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