Finding worth in the bad days

There are days we all like to talk about. You walk in and you feel great. Bug are easy to find, easy to fix and easy to approve. The documents are where we expect to find them and they are in good shape. Our questions get answered, our deadlines get met and we feel … admit it… a little like superstars.

But no job can be like that every day…

Some days you show up late to a morning meeting, you don’t even know what questions to ask not to mention where to find the answers and you can’t seem to wrap your brain around a certain test case that needs debugging. If you work in QA long enough, eventually there are going to be test escapes, and they are going to be your fault. Test escapes are one of the worst feelings I know. So how do you muster up the energy to get through those days?

Of course- you get through it because this is your job and you want to do well/get paid/not get fired. But that can’t be the only motivator.

In college, I was a history major. I spent long hours behind piles of old books and magazines combing through dates and details looking for the information I needed. I didn’t always want to be there- but what I realized was that there was a lot of value in working when its hard to stay motivated. How is that possible? When I wanted to be there, I was fueled by adrenaline and general good-moodness. It helped me to be creative, optimistic and to be full of ideas and connections. But the days I didnt want to be there, I had to push myself through with sheer will. Creativeness gave way to careful game plans and determination. If I read closer or looked deeper, it was because I was afraid that if I slacked off, I’d have to do work over. I learned to harness those bad days and make them useful. As with so many things about my major, I have since discovered, that skill is useful in my life as a QA.

No one would want to deal with it all the time, but the occasional bad day can really do amazing things for productivity. If your creativity is lagging, you have to be more thorough in your test writing process to cover all your bases. If you feel miserable because you missed a bug- use it to rewrite a test case and cover that scenario in the future. If you don’t know what questions to ask, maybe a reread of the documents or a conversation with the developers is in order. If nothing else, the determination to move through your task list and cross things off will help you clear out a lot of work, and helps to put you in a great place for those good days.

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