What do you do with your in-work down-time?

Do you use it to learn a new test-related skill? Or do you further your knowledge on a topic you’re already familiar with?
Do you create workshops or talks on something you have experience with? Or do you watch other people’s?
Do you re-test that long neglected feature? Or do you review test cases?

Or do you do something completely different like setting up the next games night, or read something good for the soul?

Context: I have down-time for the first time ever (I came from Agency work, where it never ever stops, and now I’m in-house) and I don’t know what to do with it!

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Random order/priority - depending on the times/context/risks:

  • deep bug hunting in areas where I feel I lack some knowledge or depth;
  • hunt for particular neglected lower priority areas/bugs - with low risk, impact, which might never be fixed;
  • production log parsing, review regularly increases in certain errors, create reports of problems, deal with external issues and departments which improve the product;
  • digging into analytics to understand better the usage/users;
  • production system support monitoring & investigations;
  • managing the internationalization, tooling and process;
  • release management & release support;
  • investigate sources for bugs(pinpointing) and sometimes doing bug fixes for small things;
  • quick adjustments in the product based on stakeholders requests;
  • testing of external systems integrated APIs;
  • technical engineering and specifications for future tasks/stories;
  • development support with technical and business knowledge;
  • testing of other products built by the company; lots of unknown problems everywhere to be found…
  • product technical support and feedback;
  • feasibility studies for potential new features, fixes, adjustments in the product;
  • stakeholder and business interaction and collaboration and meetings;
  • scripting for content data checks inconsistency, missing data, endurance/stability of the APIs;
  • reviewing data using external departments tools;
  • testing features that have been developed without me being asked for/informed of(e.g. due to being on vacation or things that others thought they can handle);
  • peer reviews, code inspections, packaging, deployments, repository management;
  • test environments setup not just for me, but others as well - prepare it for demos, business reviews, etc;
  • brainstorming sessions with business or technical people for managing features - not only from the team;
  • writing documentation for highly complicated product engineering stuff;
  • bug advocacy and product backlog items prioritization support;
  • optimize the local machine or VM - update it, update tools, configure/setup;
  • offering therapy sessions with the colleagues(chatting on various work problems);
  • managing engineering and dependencies implementations of some features as a or together with the product owner;
  • maintain and review the account for the integrated payment system (configurations, UI template);
  • incoming or done business changes follow-up and risk/impact analysis & information for the product;
  • testing various company announced releases(external to our product) and making reports on findings & problems
  • read about the product technology related stuff - helps in understanding a problem or finding solutions to existing issues;
  • debugging deployment failures - find the problem in the build;
  • retest of bugs/stories from the backlog - reprioritizing, closing, linking, tagging people, asking for status, adding more info or modifying to comply with recent product changes; - we’re managing in the backlog about twice more items than we should(incl. external teams or products items we’re directly impacted of)
  • debugging coding or tools problems with the devs. for some tasks they are working on;
  • checking in with internal departments on their work and impact of the product in their job - what problems do they encounter more often, how can we optimize their time/effort;
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Thank you for taking the time to reply.

I’m not sure how you have the energy to do all that and stay sane.

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I get like random downtimes, sometimes an hour, sometimes several hours. It is normally quite random to know how long it will last. So this is a great question and I look forward to other answers as what’s there now is great :slight_smile:.

For me, if it seems like the downtime will be like <= 60 mins, I’ll likely go to MoT and have a surf around any new questions etc on the Club boards if I haven’t been there for a while. Otherwise I’ll have a hoke through some of the articles and videos/courses I have saved off to do via my Pro subscription (it helps to have one of those for sure :slight_smile:) again assuming I have not done that recently. If I’m up to date on my MoT stuff, then surfage shall be done :slight_smile:. I try to keep it work related, but sometimes it is possible to go something, ahem, less work oriented :stuck_out_tongue:

If the downtime will be longer and/or more clear that it will be on and off for a definite period of time, then I’ll likely dip into a new skill, e.g. performance testing, which is somethign I’ve got some basic knowledge around, but wan tto enhance via MoT courses and general learnings from the interweb and YouTube etc … basically trying to find interesting and related stuff which I can take in (or bookmark for the future) when I find it :slight_smile:

Hope this helps and congrats on getting in-house! :slight_smile:

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That is a great question Carly. I’ve not thought about it before now.

If I have some down time in all honesty I’m probably making a cup of tea before the next thing. :smiley:

More generally I’ll look through blogs and community sites, chip away at training material (writing and receiving), catch up with people. Particularly if i need to see something progressing to keep me sane.

Nothing wrong with taking a decent break when you can.

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When I was a test consultant and I was in the office, there were several things I did:

  • giving workshops about testing and mind mapping.
  • making and giving short presentations about testing for students.
  • reviewing things like presentations, test plans, and books.
  • browsing through the knowledge management system.
  • writing abstracts for talks or workshops for conferences.
  • making a workshop or talk after acceptance.

Most of the time I used JIT or Just In Time for learning. I tried to get an overview of the testing fields and determine my gaps in knowledge and experience. I only focused on the concept of the technique or approach.

JIT can save time. If there is a chance that I would work in a datawarehouse project, I could learn the tools and approaches. But that time was wasted, if I was not assigned to this project.

In another company I updated my programming skills during my down-time. I followed online courses and made small programs.

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There are loads of things you can do in your down time, as I think you have already seen.

@leigh.rathbone did a wonderful talk on personal development at TestBash Dublin a couple of years ago, as an added bonus it is the one that is available to watch with a free MoT account, check it out: https://www.ministryoftesting.com/dojo/lessons/take-the-blue-pill-or-the-red-pill-you-decide-if-you-want-to-change-leigh-rathbone

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The hallmark of a good employee is that they always use company time to do company work. If there is no work, then ask your boss to find some for you.

Here are the things one must NEVER do during company time :wink: :

1 - Read or contribute to MOT.
2 - Learn a new language like Javascript.
3 - Work on their own coding projects with unit tests.
4 - Read technical books.
5 - See all those interesting bookmarked tech articles & videos.
6 - Relax & take breaks sometimes.

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Sorry Raghu, I can’t tell whether your post is “tongue in cheek” or genuine.

All of those things you mention are things which will enable you to become a more productive employee and absolutely should be things you do during down time

While asking for more work may be an option, it may also be a sign to your boss that they aren’t working you hard enough and could end up with you having more work than you can handle.

As a leader, I would love my team to be proactive in learning things that will enhance their abilities and improve their output, knowing that they will then apply it on the next bit of work they do.

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I think a lot of great answers have been added here already, but a few I have always focussed on:

  • Tidying up and reviewing defect backlogs
  • assessing the test packs to ensure the right level of coverage for new projects
  • identifying gaps in test/quality processes and setting up brainstorming with the team to find ways to plug the gaps
  • work with the wider tech teams to see whether you can help improve testing practices in teams that may not have dedicated testers (infrastructure teams, app support teams etc)
  • find blogs and courses to share with the team which compliment your teams vision of testing
  • choose a part of the system which peaks your curiosity and do some exploratory testing
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I added an emoticon. I guess it should be clearer now :slight_smile:

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I class reviewing test cases/tickets etc. as work.

In down-time when I feel like I have nothing to do, I’m learning JavaScript in the hopes to spin up some automated tests in the new year with Appium.

There are some really good ideas on this thread though if you are at a loose end with work

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There is a serie of free courses for JavaScript for test automation on Test Automation University. It has even a course about Appium. It is called the Mobile JavaScript path.

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I cannot say I have this kind of down time. If we mean, I’m blocked because the build is broken down time, that’s my chance to look at a number of things.

  • I used to try hard to get an older build deployed and continue deeper testing to closedown bugs, on that. Testing old code is not very agile.
  • I have found the best way to get real value when blocked from any kind of execution, is to set a prioritized goal for the next few hours and stick to it.
  • I use a mix of either catching up on:
  1. overdue test code markup/documentation tasks
  2. Continue a training course module (JavaScript currently)
  3. Resume work on tooling to help speed up any slow processes

I have found, that having a high value background or long term tooling project stream is the best cure for downtime frustration.

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how do you do that? Any suggestions for logs accessible from systems like Kibana?

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