As an IT manager I have a lot of responsibilities that involve making sure that things run as efficiently and smoothly as possible. But what people don't understand is that when I come up with new and innovative ways to make their jobs easier I do the same for me. So when it comes down to it 90% of my job is now automated. Programs that used to take me hours to do are now in easy scripts that take me minutes. Processes that took most of a day are being done on scheduled timers automatically at night, which basically means that I am bored. I have made my job so efficient that I have nothing to do. Now I do spend a lot of time researching new ways to do things, learning new programs, and trying out anything to help things go even smoother. But there is only so much you can do before you are being so efficient that there is little to no room for improvement. I am now a fire marshal I am just waiting for a fire so I can go and put it out. This however gives people the wrong impression. You see it comes down to simple perception. People don't understand my job so they think that I am being lazy. When in fact I had more overtime last year than everyone in two departments combined. And if something does go wrong I often have to work the entire weekend to make sure things are tip top by Monday so that no one else is put out. So I have a delicate balance to maintain. If other departments think I have nothing to do then they will give me more of their work load. That's fine I don't mind helping but when a problem does arrive and it takes me all day to fix it then things fall behind because they are depending on me to do their work and everything goes to crap. So I have to look busy all the time to make sure that things don't go horribly, horribly wrong. Trust me and ask any IT guy he will tell you the same. I know it sounds like I am rambling but you need to understand. When I have work to do it is an insane amount and usually needs to be done right that second. So now I finally get to my point how to look busy when you have nothing to do.
1. Look annoyed at all times: people who are busy are usually upset about it and it's important to look the part.
2. Simple problems usually fix themselves so stall for time: How many times have you called your tech guy and then it miraculously started working? People make mistakes, as much as they don't want to admit it. So when someone calls me with an email that wont send or a speaker that isn't working I always answer the same way. "Can you give me just a second I will be there as soon as I can, I just need to finish this first?" This gives the illusion that you are doing something really important you wait 10 minutes then go, 99.9% of the time the problem has been resolved by the time you get there. This lets them save face because you didn't walk up and just push a button, which makes them feel stupid. And when you are working on something critical they will be used to waiting for a minute and not get really annoyed that you didn't come right away.
3. People skills: When someone asks me to fix say an email that wont send then tells me about a strange pop up they got three weeks ago and how the two are probably related I always pretend to listen. Most people are computerly stupid and if it happened on the computer then of course it relates to everything else that happened on the computer. I even pull up a command prompt and pretend to check a vital system then try and explain that thanks for letting me know but no those aren't related. This gets hard to do after a few years on the job and that's why most IT guys seem like they are one Mountain Dew and explanation away from buying a gun and coming back to destroy those who oppose them. But people skills are important because you need to pretend that you care.
4. Maintenance denial: Computers need basic maintenance just like a car needs oil changes. Files get corrupted things slow down and if not taken care of somewhat regularly then small problems like an oil leek turn into big problems like your engine seizing up and having to get a new one. But if I so much as lay a hand on your computer then everything you do for the next month that doesn't work will be blamed on what I did to your machine. If you don't know what I am doing then you assume that I am sabotaging you for some unknown reason. So to get around this only do maintenance when others aren't around early in the morning, or late at night, when they are on vacation, or quickly while they are at lunch. Never let them see you doing something to their computer that they don't understand why. But make sure that someone else knows you are doing it. Make reports to your superiors that all computers are up to date, use buzz words like synergy, optimized, and, enhanced. They wont know what the hell you are talking about anyways so you might as well make it sound good. This lets them know that you are doing something when it seems like everything is going fine.
5. Meetings: Take meetings, go to meetings, and say something at every meeting. This lets people think that you care about what is going on. Who knows you might actually pick up something useful at a meeting once and a while like what internet sites to block. Meetings are the universal way to make people think that you are big and important and most of all busy that is why executives have a lot of meetings. Then you can say things like "sorry Bill I am so swamped I have to skip this meeting," when you have things to actually do and it makes you seem extra busy.
I hope this has helped you understand the keys to being an effective IT Manager