Test flow - How to Cope With Daily Challenges

Improve yourself with mental training for staying in the flow during your testing sessions
By Roxana Salanta Posted 14 October 2016

Test flow - How to Cope With Daily Challenges

Each day has its own challenges and the QA Engineers should try to approach them with a clear mind. They often have to wear multiple hats during a normal working day. The most common is the sharp mind hat, when dealing with sneaky bugs. Then it is followed by the wise one when deciding on what key scenarios to automate, while making sure that they are clear and easily maintainable. The coach hat so that it is ensured that people are promoting quality releases. All these while also wearing the police hat by being a guardian of the deployment process.

How to focus and not get distracted?

Despite the many things that the QA Engineer has to deal with, there are ways to do them even better.

  • Concentration

No multitasking. A developer in test should pay attention to a single activity at a time. A method that facilitates better concentration is the Pomodoro technique. It involves using a timer to divide the work hours in intervals, followed by short breaks. This technique can help minimize the distractions that may appear. During a Pomodoro run focus on just one task.

  • Confidence

Low confidence results in losing the focus. The QA Engineer should believe that his or her prediction is correct and the path he chooses to solve a problem is the most effective.

  • Motivation

How people are motivated? Sometimes people need to be energized in order to work hard and achieve their goals. Some of them are motivated by giving them autonomy, others by having a purpose/reason. There are other that improve themselves by mastering what they do.

Motivated individuals are adaptable and have a positive attitude towards work. They are interested in the success of the company by constantly helping to improve the performance and profit.

  • Excitement

A software developer in test has to figure out what is the best time for starting the testing session, that gets the most effective results. Everybody has his or her own schedules: some are more concentrated at the beginning of the day and others at the end of the day.

The flow

There are multiple psychological studies that highlight the existence of a state of mind in which individuals are the most productive and it is called "flow" or being in "the zone". In order to achieve it, the theory suggests that the following three conditions have to be met:

  1. Goals are clear
  2. Feedback is immediate
  3. A balance between opportunity and capacity

Depending on the challenge and the skill level of the person, one can either enter the flow or arrive in one of the other states of mind: anxiety, worry, apathy or boredom.

The flow

How to reach the test-flow in your session?

  • Goal setting

Individuals are in control of their goals. You have farfetched goals? Looking for big achievements? Make your achievements small and act! What are your goals for a test session?

  • Self-talk

What are the cues to get in the correct state of mind and have good results? Engage in positive/imperative self-talk "I can, I will find that" - this kind of exercises give to some people the power to concentrate better on what they are developing. Have you ever encouraged yourself?

  • Visualization

Visualization can make a difference. Remember, the team is made up of people who have their own unique circumstances, backgrounds and experiences. Each person may have his own speed of understanding and imaging various outcomes to any given problem.

The video below exemplifies two people having access to the same equipment, training, resources, but they have their own strategy and speed. The picture at the end of the exercise shows the reaction of the competitors. What kind of visualization can you use while testing?

  • Stress control

'Mens sana in corpore sano' – 'a healthy mind in a healthy body'. As it is nowadays, sitting position is the new smoking and it tries to worsen our health by having us standstill at our desk. 30 minutes of movement per day will help you maintain your IQ 😜. And when problems arise, walk around and stay focused. What is stress control during your test session?

Stress control

Maintain the flow: other suggestions on how to keep the flow

If you want to keep the flow, there are a couple of ways of kindling it. The first line of support for maintaining the flow are the software based tools that can help provide that kind of environment.

You can use RescueTime to analyze what have you been focused on. This tool shows you through some visual graphs on what categories you have spent your time on while working at your PC from very productive to very distracting, while setting daily goals on increasing your productivity score.

Another tip for improving your flow is to wear headphones and listen to music during Pomodoro sessions. Music enhances your productivity and helps you focus on tasks. You can consider listening to Music To Code By or something relaxing as harp music😊.

Stay organized. Plan the things you want to do each day.

Disconnect instant messaging. Schedule a time to answer slack, emails and phone calls.

Now go be productive during your testing sessions!

Roxana Salanta
Roxana Salanta
Software Developer in Test