“Follow up on one idea!”

Being a testing sponge

For the past 3 years I am functioning like a sponge for all things related testing. I read lots of blogs, watched videos of conference keynotes, and piled up several books related more or less to testing and even read some of them. I wrote three articles for testing magazines. And of course I follow my Twitter timeline with many, many testers. I try to do all of that mainly on my way to work and back (each roughly 45 minutes), some things I do in parallel to work, if time allows, and sometimes I read something in the early morning or late evening, shortly after getting up or before going to bed. I am deeply into catching up with testing. I missed too much in my first 10 years as a tester, I have the constant fear to loose this world, that I have discovered.

Recently I was at the Let’s Test conference in Sweden, my first one ever, and it was awesome. Michael Bolton said in a tweet after Let’s Test, that it seems, that I was everywhere, and indeed I was. I was trying to sponge up everything. I licked blood! I want to attend more of those conferences, participate, and feel the atmosphere. And chat with all those fantastic and inspiring people. I had not enough time at Let’s Test to start many deeper conversations, because I wanted to meet more people and learn more stuff.

Too much going on

But it’s getting too much. I am not only busy at work, thanks to an understaffed team, but also at home. Besides my wife and my daughter, there are some renovation projects coming up. And I have several hobbies that I want to pay some attention to.

“Multitasking is the best way to get nothing done.” This is quoted by many wise people, and it’s absolutely true. Especially at work I can confirm that constantly switching projects, switching tasks, attending meetings, taking care of questions from my teammates, administrative stuff, and more is not very helpful when it’s comes to getting things done.

I watched this short interview with Ilari Aegerter with Helena from Nordic Testing Days today. And Ilari said, that his goal is to “Follow up on one idea!” and that he has not decided yet which one. And maybe this would be a better approach for me, to focus on one topic at a time to dive deeper and keep the rest at a more shallow level.

My plan for the near future – simplify

I had this short but inspiring discussion with Pekka on Twitter about how to generate ideas for conferences. Since one of my next big personal goals is to enter some proposals for upcoming test conferences, I liked what Pekka suggested. Draw a 10×10 matrix and start entering ideas for topics. Then elaborate on a few. So currently I am looking in all directions of my portfolio about topics that might be worth a 45 minute conference talk and might – most of all – be interesting to an audience. So much for “following up on one idea” for now.

To be able to maneuver myself out of the misery I am currently in, I need to focus and I need to simplfy my life. So I will re-evaluate some goals that I set myself and try to get rid of some – at least for now.

This will also mean that I won’t be on Twitter so much, and that I will miss an interesting article or two to read. I still hope, that the best stuff is going so viral in the community, that I don’t miss it. I will re-order my book pile. And I will clean up my Pocket again, which shows again over 140 items to read and watch, building pressure.

I will continue on selecting conference topics for a few more days. And once I have collected a serious number of conference-possible topics, I will try to focus on only a few promising topics and investigate those to the best possible level. Maybe some end up only as blog, but who knows.

I will also try not to pick up new hobbies, new areas of interest in testing, and hopefully not too many new books. This will be a hard change in my personal behavior, that I worked so hard on in the past three years. But to find my inner peace again and be able to relax, this is absolutely essential. At least I hope that this approach will help. I will try to schedule a retrospective in a few months and see how it worked out.


3 thoughts on ““Follow up on one idea!””

  1. After you’ve sampled (or sponged up) enough information the next part, at least in my experience, is focused learning. As you say multi-tasking seems to result in, at least the feeling, of not getting things done so if you can focus on a particular topic or idea it’s possible to get really good traction. I find a tool like Instapaper or Pocket is really good for all those interesting blog posts and articles you’d like to read (or come across) but would break your focus. Good luck!

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for your comment. The focused learning is the part that I am missing out. As always I gather as many information on a wide area of topics, but don’t take the time to dive deeper in stuff that would help me. I rather hunt for more information or collect other topics that also sound interesting.
      I use Pocket, and it’s not kind of helping with the approach on focusing, because I collect so many links there, that’s it’s more distracting than helpful.

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