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How can you increase your testing productivity, reduce stress and do your work with a higher level of quality? You can do it all -- or, at least, improve it all -- using quality assurance (QA) time management techniques. Time management skills are critical for QA success in terms of testing productivity and job satisfaction. Managing your time allows you to produce higher quality work as well as take charge of your work day.
Frequently, QA testers are overloaded with deadline-driven work that is either late or nearly late. Also, QA testers face an enormous amount of testing they need to complete in a short period of time. Although QA testers can't necessarily control all aspects of the testing workday, they can leverage QA time management techniques to bring harmony and balance into QA work life.
By harmony and balance, I mean eliminating stress and increasing fun at work. No way, as a QA tester? Yes, you can and you need to try it out to preserve both your health and your state of mind.
First, stop avoiding tasks or procrastinating. Dig in and get going. If you have a large testing project and don't know where to start, spend 30 minutes planning an approach. The first step is to take charge and the second is to formulate a plan. It doesn't have to be a formal plan; jot down whatever works in the form of an outline, list or free-association drawing. The purpose is to prioritize the work you have to do, determine the sequence of tasks and plan how you'll spend the available time.
One way to plan QA time management constructively is to divide each task into smaller blocks of time. If you can keep the work prioritized and in smaller defined pieces, you'll know your key responsibilities and when you'll have them completed.
Try not to switch between tasks or work on multiple tasks simultaneously. It takes time to shift gears and the more you do it, the more you waste time. Multitasking appears productive, but it also increases mistakes and tends to reduce the overall quality of your work. Stay focused on your QA tasks in the sequence and time blocks you've established. Many QA testers find that a daily planner helps keep them organized. Personally, I use mind mapping techniques on paper or an electronic version of a mind mapping tool.
Knowing exactly what you need to do first and then planning time blocks helps you reduce thrashing and unnecessary stress. Save your energy and focus on testing to find defects and improving the software quality of your application.
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