An efficient tester

Are you efficient? Do you work in a well-organised and competent way? I think most of us aspire to be effortlessly organised, to be in control of our lives. Some people raise children, run businesses, and still manage to find time to file their papers. The rest of us go around in a haze of hastily bought birthday cards, missed appointments, and mental to-do lists.

Unfortunately efficiency isn’t something that turns up in your life to sort things out like a benevolent fairy godmother. Efficient people have systems and techniques to help them organise their life.

To-do lists are a great way to keep track of tasks but if yours looks anything like mine they they can get overwhelming. Spending time at the beginning of each day choosing the most important tasks, the things that really, really, must happen today, can help. Once you’ve chosen the ‘must do’ tasks you simply hide everything else away for another day.

Batching tasks can also be a great way of saving time. If you have three bank transfers to make then doing them all at the same time will save you two online account log ins. Bulk buying birthday cards will save you multiple trips to the card shop. Grouping meetings together keeps useful chunks of the day available for hands on work.

Tools like Evernote, Feedly, and Instapaper help save important, or interesting things. I find the volume of interesting articles shared on Twitter to be overwhelming. Setting up an IFTTT channel to save starred items to my Evernote account has been a huge help. Now instead of trying to read or categorise links as they come up I save them away and deal with them all in one go.

Automation can be another way to remove waste. A simple automated script to create test users, or set the system under test into a desired state can save considerable time and effort. However, as with all automation, there are creation and maintenance costs associated with getting the script running, and keeping it running as the system develops.

Recently the fantastic Danny Dainton reminded me how important it is to automate small tasks as well as big ones. Removing a couple of mouse clicks a day might not seem like much, but over time those seconds will add up to big time savings.

One of my favourite tiny tasks to automate is editing URLs. When I’m testing I frequently switch between test environments and production ones. It only takes a second or two to highlight and change the necessary part of the URL but over an entire day these few seconds start to add up. A simple JavaScript bookmarklet takes this tiny task and makes it a simple button click.

As I go through my working week I look for monotonous, or repetitive tasks. Are there ways to batch these tasks? Can I use Boomerang to schedule emails in advance? Maybe I can find, or create, a tool to do this task for me. Each time I save time, I’m creating an opportunity to do something better, to become a more efficient tester.

How do you make yourself more efficient? Do you have a favourite tool or script to help you?



  1. Definitely : a JavaScript shortcut to handle application under test login is a must (applicable for web app only, but solution can bé found for windows app). One clik on shortcut saving username, password and submit button clik, saved jours not to say day In my tester life…

  2. Time is such a precious thing when working in the environment that we do, anything that shaves seconds or minutes from your day is very valuable. I got the idea to try and use scripts to claw back some time from Rob Lambert, he used a bunch of .bat files that opened up specific browsers on certain pages, very simple and very quick to create.

    I’ve been trying to increase my Python experience over the last couple of years and write basic tools that help me in my daily testing life was a perfect starting point. I’ve now been able to extend these and also create new scripts that do slightly more business specific things but I also try and answer the same question “Is this better than what I currently have?” – If it doesn’t, I won’t spend time creating it because there is a cost associated with this task too.

    Services like IFTTT and Zapier are perfect for creating “Recipes” or “ZAPs” that save time by automating certain things you do all the time. There are loads of applications that these integrate with and worth spending some time to check out if you use things like Google Drive, Twitter, Dropbox, Evernote, Pocket, etc.

    Thank you for writing this post Amy, I will get together something that hopefully explains or describes how I’m using these tools in my own work context.

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