As Testers, How to Unblock Yourself?
by Rahul Parwal
As Testers, How to Unblock Yourself?
Learning is an indispensable part of every tester’s life. Testers are constantly learning about products, domains, technologies, programming, tools, testing techniques, etc. Learning experiences are unique to each individual and come with their own set of challenges, learnings, and realizations. Since there are so many learning resources and opportunities available to us, it’s easy to begin a new learning journey, but maintaining progress and continuing along the way remains a challenge.
Have you ever started a new project, but couldn’t continue because of constant blockers, hurdles, or challenges in the process? If yes, this article is for you!
It is challenging to stay on track and unblocked during this process of continuous learning. The process can be challenging since there will be failures and stumbling blocks along the way. Furthermore, most complexities/issues do not come with pretty labels and unfold over time. It becomes even more challenging to maintain continuous progress when this happens. However, if you know how to unblock yourself, it will be much easier to keep moving forward.
The following strategies will help you to unblock yourself (or remain unblocked) in the course of your overall journey:
Ask for Help
- For questions related to work, it’s a good idea to consult your colleagues like other testers, developers, or colleagues. If you ask, you may or may not get it. However, if you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. So, never hesitate to ask them first.
- If you have spent a fair amount of time in the industry, then you have probably established a Testing Network where you can ask for help.
- If you don’t have a Testing Network yet, Work towards building your own KenAshraya (Ken stands for Knowledge, Ashraya means Support), i.e., Support for Knowledge.
- For testers, one amazing safe place to ask for advice or help are the testing communities. If you are not part of any, start with following the Testing Communities & their handles on:
- Social Media Applications:
- Social Media Applications:
- Additionally, you may join the Community Chat Groups of these communities to maintain a more constant connection with testers of different skills, expertise, and experience levels.
- Some Good Testing Handles that I recommend and personally follow are:
Do Something Else
- It is better to defocus rather than stop when you feel stuck.
- Focus on something else for a while instead of feeling stuck. You need to clear your mind of this blocked state.
- It is important to leave yourself some disposable time in your schedule so that you can do other activities that we generally do in our free time. Ex: Doodling, Playing Games, Watching Television, etc.
Change the Source
- To gain newer and wider perspectives on your issue, it is always a good idea to check out other resources / explore new sources if a specific resource does not help.
- You can find learning material on diverse topics related to software testing on a number of YouTube channels. Over time, I have found the following channels to be very useful for getting newer perspectives on testing-related topics:
- Agile Testing Alliance
- STeP-IN Forum
- The Test Tribe
- Agile Testing Days
- The Test Chat
- Association for Software Testing
- EvilTester – Software Testing
- EuroSTAR Testing Conference
- Test Masters Academy
- You can find more curated learning resources on diverse topics around Software Testing in Ultimate Productivity Toolkit.
- Tip: Know at least three different sources for any resource, or task. Checkout Rule of Three by Jerry Weinberg to know more about this.
Go Back to Basics
- The reason for getting stuck with issues over and over again can, in many cases, be a lack of Basic Concepts. If you feel that you need to catch up on some basic concepts, then it’s a good idea to Start Fresh.
- Try to refresh on basics and then jump back on the stuck issue.
- You can review some reference paths to strengthen your basics if you want to structure your learning curve. Check out the following links containing detailed roadmaps for software testers:
- Begin by tackling simple tasks related to the same topic to develop your confidence.
Build Step by Step
- Instead of getting stuck with the feeling of imperfection, Strive for iterative improvement. Prefer Evolution over Revolution. Build your progress step by step.
- Accept that any attempt to do something new is a confusing process at first but it will get better with time. It’s okay to begin in Confusion and later on work towards ending in precision.
- Embrace the bootstrap approach which states that any process we care about that is done efficiently and well begins by being done poorly and inefficiently.
- Tip: Focus on incremental progress rather than feeling overwhelmed with your final vision.
Learn from Experts
- Step 1: Know the experts from your field. If you don’t know where to start, checkout this curated list of expert software testers along with their social handles. This is good to get you started knowing some expert software testers.
- Step 2: Know how to approach them. From my experience, most of the experts from community will respond to you and are very approachable to talk and discuss more on software testing. Go ahead, and network with them.
- TIP: Your first message should NOT be asking for help. I got this tip from Ajay Balamurugadas and since then it has always stayed with me.
- Step 3: Invest in learnings from the experts. Plan to attend and learn from:
- Mentorship Programs
- Meetups, etc.
- Utilize the expertise of those who have gone through the pain themselves.
- Learn from their context. Different context brings different perspectives. Different might not necessarily mean better, but it may help you think of something you hadn’t thought of before.
- Learn from their experience.
Observe the Patterns
- Notice every detail. Observation is a critical skill for testers.
- Try to identify patterns from your observation. With good observation, one can discover meaningful clues for problem solving.
- Learn to connect the dots / missing links.
- Cross domain patterns can also be helpful at times. I have personally learned about testing and ideas from other fields like:
- Critical Thinking Games
- Investigative Series
- Crime Series, etc.
Use the Right Tools
- Just like there are no best practices, there are no best tools. There are tools suited for each activity and the same tool might not be the appropriate one in another instance. Know the right tools for the context.
- Know at least three tools for every context.
- Try out tools before you need to use them so that tool learning curve can be minimized when you need to use them.
- You can check out the curated compilation of over 350+ Tools spread across various categories and contexts available in Ultimate Productivity Toolkit.
- What you say to yourself matters. You control your thoughts and your destiny.
- Understand that F.A.I.L. = First Attempt in Learning. Take every failure as a learning and growth opportunity.
- Any failure is NOT a failure if you learn from it. At the same time, any failure is a choice if you repeat the mistakes. Don’t hesitate to make mistakes, just ensure that you don’t repeat the old mistakes.
Take a BREAK
- Go for a sleep, Give relaxation to your mind and body.
- Do nothing, Free your mind from the problem loop.
- Have a sufficient Rest / Relaxation period.
If you are a visual learner, I have this quick video of my article showcasing the key points covered for a quick summary:
A Jaipurite with a B.Tech. in Computer Science & Engineering. Currently, working as a Senior Software Engineer at ifm engineering pvt. ltd., Pune. Worked on Software Development, Testing & Automation projects during the 3-year tenure with Capgemini.
Presently, involved in Industrial Automation, UI, API, and Mobile App Automation Testing projects at ifm engineering pvt. ltd. Adept at Automation Solutions, i.e., Selenium, Appium, WinAppDriver using C#, and Python.
A seeker at heart; love for Indian mythology and Cricket and connecting them with real-life situations give an edge both on professional and personal fronts. A firm believer of right education and an ardent advocate of open-source mentality. A great company to be with who will ensure that every conversation turns out to be as stimulating as a cup of hot coffee.
You can check out my latest ebook, “Ultimate Productivity Toolkit” at bit.ly/rpajtoolkit
Want to know more, Check out: about.me/parwalrahul