Time management is the key to working smarter and not harder, as projects can get very stressful and complicated. To this end, we decided to interview some of our colleagues on how they use time management as quality assurance testers in order to complete their tasks and carry on with their projects. 

Check out their answers below! 

1. What are the best tips and tricks on time management that work for you?

Most of our colleagues told us that the best tip for time management is to divide your work by prioritizing your tasks. Usually, you can prioritize your tasks by their importance, volume, and deadlines to finish your work on time. Here is one of our colleagues’ answers that says it all:

“Plan your day, schedule your time and prioritize your tasks. When I start a new day, the most important thing to do is to plan my day – schedule meetings, add the tasks I need to do during the day, and prioritize them, so I focus on finishing them in time. 

Divide each task into smaller blocks of time. If you can keep the work prioritized and in smaller pieces, you’ll know your key responsibilities and when they will be completed. While planning your day, it is also important to schedule your breaks. The human brain cannot focus 100% all the time, so you need to take your time to eat, listen to music, do sports, etc.; to do whatever brings you a moment of happiness/silence.”

2. Do you use external helpers?

Organizing and planning your tasks and meetings can be challenging, so you often find yourself using all the help you can get. Our co-workers use the following external apps:

  • Google Calendar/ Calendar; 
  • Trello; 
  • Notes app; 
  • Alarms; 
  • Todolist; 
  • Microsoft’s To Do;
  • Sticky notes/ Notepad. 

“I am using multiple apps to schedule my day, but I can say that Google Calendar is a life savior. Being on the move a lot, I also use it on my phone. That way, I am sure I am always participating in my meetings and not missing anything in my personal life.”

3. What skills from your previous job helped you with time management as a QA tester?

Because everybody has their own unique experience and tips for time management, we will put their stories and answers as they are in order to fully understand their approach.

“Aside from screenshots or videos, always make some small notes while testing so they can aid you in a presentation or report/status. That way, you won’t have to scramble to find what you were looking for or miss details, thus saving yourself the time and the headache.”

“I think that being consistent is a key element in time management. That is what I learned at my previous job as a QA, that you always need to check the time and tasks. Another important skill is organizing your tasks in teams: you need to know the people you are working with so that you will understand how to approach multiple tasks at once.”

“I always worked in a team, so it came naturally to me here at BetterQA to share my tasks with the team and take tasks from teammates when they have too much on their plate. It’s so true that “Teamwork makes the dream work.”

4. Do you feel guilty if you have a slow day? If yes, how do you manage those feelings?

It is easy to get overwhelmed by your workload. Slow days at work come with the guilt of not being as productive. Some of our co-workers can feel the guilt that slow days bring, but some don’t. Each response is natural, and you are not alone. Here’s how our colleagues are facing it!

“Sometimes, it is not your fault for having a slow-motion day. Sometimes other things stand in your way, like a slow internet connection or a critical piece of information that is not available yet. You need to take a step back and observe those situations without blaming yourself.”

“Sometimes, I feel guilty for not doing as much work as I’d like. We all have high standards that we want to fulfill, and when we don’t, we start criticizing ourselves. That kind of time anxiety drains you more, leaving your next day to be unproductive as well. The best way to free me from the guilt is by forgiving myself, realizing that I am not a robot and I need breaks to clear my mind. I learned that productive time isn’t always spent at my desk.”

“A little, I review my activity and try to spot the problems. Work on it for the future. The past is the past, you can’t change it, so you better learn from it. (Mufasa from lion king helps every time).”

“Yes – feeling the guilt these days! As a beginner, having to learn things does not let me go full speed. But knowing that I do all I can with good intentions and receiving some encouragement from the team helps a lot.”

“I don’t. It is ok to have slow days as long as it is not becoming a habit. But if there are too many slow days, I would try to identify the problem and do something about it.”

“No, slow days are necessary. You can’t go full-on all the time because you’ll lose your grip.”

5. Do you think everyone should work on their time management? If so, why?

It goes without saying that you can always improve your time management skills. Working as a QA tester is a very dynamic work environment, so you must adapt and improve yourself to fulfill your tasks and be recognized as a valuable employee.

“Yes, I do. It doesn’t only help with feeling accomplished at the end of the day if you get everything done, but being organized is required for the QA engineer mindset.”

“We can’t control time, but we can learn how to use it efficiently. Spending our energy on the right things at the right time will save us time that can be spent later on learning something, hanging out with friends and family, and being happy.

Also, effective time management will increase your focus and productivity, which also helps in time efficiency.”

6. Do you have any advice regarding time management related to testing? If so, what is it?

“Yes, it mostly applies when not following an already created test plan. Start by creating a list of usage scenarios: what things will the user do most often in the app, which areas of the app are most likely to contain defects, and what parts of this app are critical for the client. After creating those, prioritize the list, search for the Test Cases that cover them, and use those to create a test execution. If there aren’t test cases for those specific scenarios, a good practice would be to create them so you can use them in your future testing.”

“If the task is too big, divide it into smaller steps. Also, try to remove other distractions if you can.”

“Put all your tasks on a list. Sort them by priority and if there are too many – complete the urgent ones first and the minor ones last;

Cut off from your lists any completed or canceled tasks (if you need them later, move them to a “Completed Tasks” list) to make your to-do list easier to read.”

7. If you are a parent, how can you manage your time on top of caring for your children?

We know that having kids while working from home implies much more effective time management and patience. Check out how our co-workers with kids manage their time, but also their personal feelings when they feel overwhelmed: 

“I’m taking extra time for every task I have to do that implies my son. Rushing a kid in any way will only add more stress both for the kid and for the parent, and the result will be a disaster.”

“Priorities change along with the kids, but I always try to remember that it is also important to find some time for myself, for my passions, for my friends. Parents tend to completely change their customs when a baby comes into their lives, and it’s somehow inevitable. Still, in time we realize that it is important not to forget who we were before kids. So, I take a couple of hours a week just for myself.”