Is there an optimal time of day to test software?

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  • 26th December 2019

We all have our own personal preferences and routines that we like to believe allows us to work at our optimal ability.

You may have a prefered set of activities that you like to do in the morning to set yourself up for a productive day in the office. Have a need to have your desk arranged in a certain way to achieve optimal productivity. Or maybe you are only able to perform deep work with headphones on and locking out the noise of your surroundings.

Alternatively, you might not care about any of those things and can pump out the same quality and quantity of work no matter how your day goes.

I always recommend finding out what works for you, remain consistent with it, and then build it into your daily routine. What works for me, won’t work for you.

But for performing our best work, does the time of day that we do it make much of a difference?

As already mentioned. Different people have different preferences. So I can’t determine the preferences of all software testers. I can only convey and explain my own. While coming up with a hypothesis that might explain the time of day to perform optimal software testing.

Working at night

If we look at Facebook usage statistics for when people are most active on the social network, we can see that usage peaks in the late afternoon before slowly declining over the remaining hours of the day.

Many programmers I’ve interacted with, hold a similar preference for working in the evening, or late at night and well beyond the reach of distractions, temptations and interruptions that will either pull them away from their work or prevent them from entering the “flow state, making their ability to perform deep work much easier.

Office work

Now I can’t speak for all software testers. But it’s likely that most people are performing their software testing in an office environment unless you are lucky to have a remote job or work from home.

So working in the evening isn’t a luxury that most of us have the option of taking advantage of.

Instead of looking at things out of our control lets instead turn our attention to the variables within our control. Perhaps then we will find a time of day that we perform at our most optimal.

Testing in the morning

Software testing can be described as a mental exercise in which it requires creative solutions to ensure a piece of software that we are working with is being tested to its capabilities.

After I’ve had my caffeine fix in the morning and my mind is fresh from several hours of sleep. It’s much more flexible, with its ability to keep and relay information being far greater than at any other time of the day.

That’s not to say that past 11 am I turn into a mindless being with the cognitive ability of a pumpkin. Only that if given the option of working early in the morning was presented to me. I would snap it up quicker than you could say exploratory testing.

However, not everyone shares this preference or my enthusiasm.

What if they’re not a morning person and the thought of making their journey to the office after their alarm goes off being the least enjoyable thing that they can think of?

Testing in the afternoon

The afternoon might be when many others find they do their best work.

Feeling refreshed after their lunch and fully woken up at this point to perform their tasks without deep thought or internal persuasion.

But personally, I don’t get it, and for one main reason.

The afternoon slump

For those not familiar with this soul-destroying feeling that can make you want to crawl under your desk and stay there for a few hours. It’s the time of day (usually between 2 pm & 5:30 pm) this very real biological phenomenon affects our own internal body-clock, making many people experience a noticeable dip in their alertness, energy level, and ability to concentrate in the afternoon.

However, people can take actions to help avoid “the slump” by doing activities like:

  • Stretching.
  • Going for a walk.
  • Taking a few moments to practise mindfulness.

For those affected, it can have negative impacts on their productivity levels and our general mood, affecting our ability to perform to the best of our ability.

Conclusion

There are advantages to performing software testing in the morning, noon and night. But as with most activities, I think ‘optimal’ can only be given value by the person doing the software testing based on our own working preferences.

Find out what that preference is and challenge that idea by trying out different scenarios until you find the conditions you are comfortable with that enable you to perform at your best.

But whatever your preference is, don’t be the person who only gets their best work done at x time, or prefers to work when it’s y.

Learn to be your best whatever the time of day. or the conditions you find yourself in. This will not only help you be a more well-rounded software tester. But increase your worth as an employee.

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