Living in an era where everything seems to be controlled by the ticking of the CLOCK device, it’s no easy feat to steer clear of challenges.
If you are devising a daily schedule while fixing your morning coffee and then hustling all day to complete the assigned duties, this post will surely resonate with you :).
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In today’s world, stress has become an inevitable part of our existence. Almost everyone undergoes stress due to varied reasons. Although stress management is gaining recognition as an independent industry, reflecting on our past could reveal some insightful solutions. Instead of opting for elaborate solutions, we need to think about why our predecessors didn’t have to deal with this issue and we will get most of the answers.
As software testing experts, we indirectly acquire the techniques to manage stress because our profession calls for patience, efficient communication, and strategic skills. However, during instances of exceptionally high stress at the workplace, we tend to forget about the potential solutions within our reach.
This article intends to highlight some of the prevalent stress triggers encountered by testing professionals and provides tried and tested solutions for each.
4 Primary Sources of Stress in the Life of a Tester
#1 Stress Red Flag: Deadline Pressure
As is common knowledge, software testing often gets the least consideration in terms of task ordering in the software development life cycle. Irrespective of the framework in use, in most scenarios (with a few exemptions), if any modifying has to be made, it’s generally by cutting corners in the testing phase.
This leads to testers frequently scrambling to make deadline and achieve acceptable testing coverage.
Example: Picture this; you’re asked to finish a round of testing on an app with intricate computations within the next couple of hours because it’s due to be launched by evening. If you’re not overwhelmed by this situation, perhaps this post isn’t pertinent to you. 🙂
#2 Stress Red Flag: Insufficient Recognition at Work
It’s a recognized reality that testers demand additional time to gain credibility as their daily efforts aren’t always as acknowledged as it should be. This mainly stems from the nature of their work, which involves finding lapses in others’ work.
Although testers contribute towards improving a product’s quality, they often work as quality gatekeepers, and it’s reasonable for individuals to feel ill at ease in this role as it empowers them to decide what’s acceptable or not.
Example: On the successful launching of a project, the project manager sends out a thanks note to all developers and business growth team members, but leaves you out. When you question the manager about it, he simply deduces that he missed out on it. Doesn’t that demotivate you? For me, it’s undoubtedly a major stress inducer.
#3 Stress Red Flag: Inadequate Compensation
Whether we acknowledge it or not, this bitter truth stands ground. Though the situation is progressively changing, a complete transformation will definitely need more time.
Example: When you hear that a friend from your computer studies class has bagged a package that’s double your salary. Does this cause you to doubt your passion-driven career choice in software testing? If so, you are clearly stressed.
#4 Stress Red Flag: Necessity for Continuous Learning
This applies to all professions, but it’s particularly relevant for testers. How so?
Example: Once you see a manual tester struggling to grasp automation to advance their career, you comprehend the actual implication of continuous learning. Unlike other professions, where mastering a particular technology lets you stick with and simply upgrade your skills, testers don’t get to enjoy such career stability with their existing knowledge. As testers should work on different projects and are expected to know and incorporate relevant tools accordingly.
If you’re still reading, it’s time to take a breather and enjoy a cup of coffee. We’re about to explore the brighter side of life where all the stress factors mentioned can be effectively managed. But How?
Effective Techniques to Manage Stress as a Software Testing Professional
Technique #1: Attain Clarity on Priorities
Testing a login page with a seemingly critical bug is more important than checking the spelling of website content. I don’t mean to say one is less critical than the other, it’s the prioritization of tasks that matters here. When dealing with multiple assignments, refrain from trying to sort out everything simultaneously, as it only leads to confusion. Instead, focus on one task, prioritize it, and upon completion, proceed to the next.
The secret is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities – Stephen Covey
Technique #2: Learn to Say No
You’re a human being, not a robot. You can’t do everything, and the person imposing the request should understand that. If they fail to do so, learn to say NO. Avoid pleasing everyone by accepting all tasks and adding to your work pile. Be aware of your priorities and the time at hand, and explain to others about declining their request.
It’s only by saying “NO” that you can concentrate on things that really matter – Steve Jobs
Technique #3: Develop Emotional Intelligence
This skill is expected of every professional. If you’re upset following a heated discussion with your manager regarding a missed flaw, it’s important that you develop emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is not just about controlling your feelings, but also directing them constructively. It’s a skill that every professional must learn at some stage of their career for real growth. Don’t let anyone offend you easily, and don’t get hurt without reason either. 🙂
People with higher emotional intelligence are more successful than those merely high on intelligence – Anonymous
Technique #4: Take Care of Yourself
When you’re physically and mentally fit, everything else falls into place. Eat healthily, Get good sleep. Look after your physical and emotional well-being. You can only deliver your best performance when your body and mind are at their peak.
Look after your body. It’s the only place you inhabit – Anonymous
Technique #5: Open Up Communication
Sometimes, it’s best to clarify things directly rather than assuming and forming notions. If you think your work isn’t appreciated enough, voice your concerns. If you think an issue needs attention, speak up. If you predict a time crunch, express your views. The key is to handle these discussions in a constructive and positive fashion.
Most of the world’s problems would disappear if we spoke with each other instead of about each other – Alisa Michelle
Technique #6: Understand that Work is Part of Life, Not Life Itself
Yes, just doing work-related chores all weekend reveals that you are exchanging life for work. Realize that life encompasses other things as well like enjoyment, time with family, recreational activities, and laughter. Trust me, when your mind is filled with concerns about your customers’ responses, you won’t be able to fully appreciate the tasty dish prepared by your beloved ones. Give yourself a few hours of technology blackout and observe the change. Once you step out of the office, disconnect your mind from work and treasure your time with your family.
Sometimes it’s crucial to work hard for success, but sometimes it’s just about taking the time off and deciding which color to slide on the rainbow – Douglas Pagels
Technique #7: Delegate
Always bear in mind that attempting to do everything single-handedly doesn’t lead to true success. Master the art of delegating tasks. Guide others. Understand the significance of delegation. Be responsible but avoid trying to execute everything solely.
Concentrate on your strengths and delegate your weaknesses – Anonymous
Technique #8: Surround Yourself with Like-Minded Associates
Most certainly, you become like the people you spend time with. Hence, choice of company is essential. Shun gossiping or joining in trivial activities. Spend time with a few friends, coworkers, or a group of folks who can contribute positively to your life when needed. Interacting with like-minded peers can rejuvenate you in several ways. It can provide you fresh outlooks, innovative ideas to incorporate, and keep you from going off track.
Surround yourself with those who reflect the person you strive to be and how you want to feel because energies are infectious – Anonymous
Lastly, I would like to conclude this post with a fellow quote by the notable Teddy Roosevelt:
Perform what you can, where you are, with what you have, and disregard the rest.
About the Author: This educational piece was penned by STH team member Bhumika M. She is a project innovator with over a decade’s experience in software testing. She is passionate about testing and relishes testing whatever comes her way.
Enjoy your testing and manage stress effectively!
We look forward to your valuable comments and recommendations for this article.