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Testing in the Age of Distraction

Presented at the Let's Test conference in Sweden on 22/05/2013
by

Zeger Van Hese

on 27 September 2013

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Transcript of Testing in the Age of Distraction

Testing in the age of distra...
squirrel!
Zeger Van Hese
Z-sharp

zeger@z-sharp.be
@TestSideStory
http://TestSideStory.com

86400
pie chart of procrastination
(c) Demetri Martin, 2007
distractions
defocus
focus
procrastination
receptive
deceptive
In support
of focus
testing
Creative
thinking
Critical
thinking
flow
continuous partial attention
Multitasking?
attention = zero-sum game
in support
of creativity
Creativity
focus
defocus
Ways to
regain focus
Focus pocus!
"Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work
he is supposed to be doing
at that moment."

(Robert Benchley, 1949)
unschedule
Theory of structured procrastination
"To be a high achiever, always work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that's even more important."
(Ig Nobel prize winner John Perry, 2011)
Procrastination often leads to learning
Most of our learning is a side effect
Thank you for your atten...
squirrel!
Zeger Van Hese
Z-sharp

zeger@z-sharp.be
@TestSideStory
http://www.testsidestory.com
rather, serial tasking
brain processes info on different channels
a model
human factors
context factors
http://www.flickr.com/photos/19627189@N06/2298587898
It's not INFORMATION OVERLOAD
It's FILTER FAILURE
- Clay Shirky -
We are wired for distraction
a thin line
Decision fatigue
"Might as well face it, I'm addicted to likes"
variable-ratio schedule
"Secrets of a buccaneer-scholar"
James Bach, 2009
Intro
receptive
create mental space
have a relaxing effect
help to regain focus
deceptive
make you lose track
e.g. : M&M's
emails
phone calls
internet
* Likelihood of "receptiveness"
~
how different it is from the task being distracted from
reverse calendar
High brain load
Unconscious processing
mind-wandering promotes creativity
"chance favors the connected mind"
"Where good ideas come from"
Steven Johnson - TED talk, 2010
(old Chinese proverb)
We are a daydreaming species
Neural Reactivation Links Unconscious Thought to Decision Making Performance.

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2013
(J. D. Creswell, J. K. Bursley, A. B. Satpute)
‘Inattention blindness' due to brain load

UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, July 2012
(Nilli Lavie, UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience)
the beauty of disconnection
YOU
SelfControl (Mac)
StayFocusd (Chrome extension)
multiple desktops:
- VirtuaWin (Windows)
- Spaces (Mac)
(10+2)*5 procrastination hack
(for easily divisible, analytical tasks)
creativity needs time to unfold in unpredictable ways
Session-Based Test Management (SBTM)
- group features together
- defects & questions later
- prepare / setup
- block time
"Anything not worth doing is not worth doing right"
(a.k.a. Cary's Crap Caution)
- clear set of goals and progress
3 conditions for flow
flow - a paradox for testers
- suspending critical abilities
- the opiate of expertise
- clear and immediate feedback
- good balance between challenge and skills
when/where do you get your best ideas?
Ambient noise
"Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition"
Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 39, No. 4, December 2012
(Ravi Mehta, Rui Zhu, and Amar Cheema)
- low (50 dB) to moderate (70 dB) level of ambient noise
enhances performance on creative tasks.
- high level of noise ( >85 dB) hurts creativity
"Inspired by Distraction: Mind Wandering Facilitates Creative Incubation"

Journal of the Association for Psychological Science, 2012
Benjamin Baird, Jonathan Smallwood, Michael D. Mrazek, Julia W. Y. Kam
- virtually attend testing conferences
- sounding board
- facilitates connection in real life
#DEWT
defocus = natural
- often fed by distractions
testers are athletes too!
solving complex testing problems
defocusing in testing
creative thinking needs defocus
lesson learned:
knowledge work doesn't always look like work
“Follow Your Energy”
“Get a Coffee”
Work with your circadian rhythm
defocusing heuristics
(c) James Bach, 2009
(c) Zeger Van Hese, 2013
sharpen your note taking skills
Guilt-free breaks
- priming
- leaving breadcrumbs
Source: "Power sleep: the revolutionary program that prepares yor mind for peak performance"
James Maas, 1998
http://www.steveo1967.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/creative-and-critical-thinking-and.html?m=1
#IRCTC
#fail
:(
:-(
information overload
“Our life is frittered away by detail...
simplify, simplify, simplify.”
(Henry David Thoreau, 1854)
*
reverse calendar
unschedule
DON'T
NEED
TO
RESPOND
"More Secrets of Consulting: The Consultant's Tool Kit" Jerry Weinberg, 2001
"A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind"

Science, 2012
Matthew A. Killingsworth, Daniel T. Gilbert - Harvard
tools
pro-tip: don't tweet & quit
http://www.coffitivity.com
The To-Not-Do List
- essential cognitive tool
- facilitates bursts of creative insight
- ideas typically don’t occur when we’re focused on tasks
spark file
easier to effectively ignore irrelevant distractions
- perfect condition for creative thought
managing focus = important testing skill
switch between thinking styles
think critically => be focused
think creatively => embrace defocus
round-up
Full transcript