Do you ever find yourself stuck in a QA rut? I will be the first to admit that I have been there. You probably know the signs. You can predict to the minute what you'll be doing that day (or week, sprint, or month). You start to go on autopilot, not really thinking of different ways to test, or worse - not even thinking of the testing that's truly best for the product.
Sometimes you just need to mix it up, think outside the box, and do something different... but how?
One good answer is to complete the Ministry of Testing's #30DaysOfTesting Challenge
The challenge is a series of activities for software testers that are designed to be performed over a thirty-day period. The test launched in July, but it is a self-guided challenge, which you can perform during any period, according to your own schedule.
A different kind of challenge
The general idea is to do a different testing activity each day over the course of a month - all very different from each other. (Full disclosure: I am terrible at actually doing things like this once a day, much less sharing it, but that's beside the point). The end goal? Improving yourself as a tester (while having a bit of fun)!
While completing some challenges on the list, I had to really learn what I was doing. Mind maps aren't actually my forte, and I still have yet to tackle an "out by one" error. Other challenges forced me to step outside my comfort zone (like inviting a non-tester to an event, in which case I actually got a UI Architect to apply to speak at a test conference!)
Image Source: http://www.ministryoftesting.com
Tips for Success
As with anything worth doing, this list can be a challenge just to complete! Here are some tips that worked for me:
Make time for it! Just schedule 30 minutes to an hour each morning and do something from the list. This helped me warm up for the day in my regular work, and got my creative juices flowing.
Don't sweat it if you can't do something EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I took the pressure off of myself to do each thing on the given day, and instead picked something that interested me at the moment. While it's great if you can perform the challenge within a month, you shouldn't rake yourself over the coals if it takes longer. Completing the challenges and learning from them is more important than sticking to a rigid schedule.
Why are you doing this? Before beginning the challenge, set a personal goal - and not just because someone said to. What are you looking to accomplish for yourself?
Most importantly, have fun with it! Some days, as my kids would say, "I just don't wanna!" Take testing out of it. Do a task from a different perspective! I completed one challenge in a way that had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with testing (yes, shameless picture of my dog).
I'll admit that at first all I could think of were those exercise promos (you know what I'm talking about - "In just 20 minutes a day, you too can look like this..."). But as I started doing these
exercises challenges, I actually found myself improving (and identifying the areas where I so badly need to improve).
The best things about the challenges: I started to remember back to when I entered the QA field more than a decade ago, and had FUN with testing. And more importantly, I found I was constantly learning and I continue to want to know more. My list of things to research grows each day, and I can't wait to sign on in the morning to pick a new challenge.
Ashley Hunsberger is a Quality Architect at Blackboard, Inc. and co-founder of Quality Element. She’s passionate about making an impact in education and loves coaching team members in product and client-focused quality practices. Most recently, she has focused on test strategy implementation and training, development process efficiencies, and preaching Test Driven Development to anyone that will listen. In her downtime, she loves to travel, read, quilt, hike, and spend time with her family.