Wednesday, December 18, 2013
On Surroundings, Clutter and Getting Out of My Own Way
Understand, my office is the most "unlovable" room in our house. For various reasons, the previous owners of our home, when they chose to build an upstairs addition over the garage, decided to route out a section of the garage to put the staircase. They made a large main room, a half bath, and a "bedroom". Well, some room had to go over the staircase, and to be creative about it, the "bedroom" was the spot chosen to be over the stairwell.
There were a few owners that owned this house before we did, and everyone who owned the house before us used this room for the same purpose. It was "the office" or "the spare room", because it did not fit any pre-conceived plan to be used as a regular bedroom. Feng Shui was not taken into account when this room was made ;). Thus, I tended to do the same, and for fifteen years, this room has undergone several transformations, purges, redesigns, clutter abatements, organizations, reorganizations, and somehow, I still manage to get work done in here.
The biggest challenge with a multi-purpose room is the need to switch tasks, and have a system where I can do so effectively. "A place for everything and everything in its place" is great in theory, but very often, I find myself having to contend with two or three projects needing the same space. thus, what often happens is there is a bundling up of stuff, stuffing wherever I can make room, and then getting back to it when I can. It's a room that invites fiddling, tweaking and moving stuff around to find that "best spot" to put everything. In short, it's a place where, very often, I find that I get in my own way; my best laid plans for one project/process cause me to be horribly inefficient for another.
In an ideal world, I would just say "OK, well, I will set up another room to do that other thing", but that's not really an option. To keep a happy home, this room is my domain for whatever project I need to be working on, and as such, it has to work, odd and ends and all.
Testers don't just have a small set of tools at their disposal. In fact, they literally have the entire world of knowledge to work with to help define their tests, their strategy and their approach. When you picture a heavily cluttered and wildly akimbo lab of a mad scientist, that is the essence of a tester, and the way a tester often works.
As of now, I have some semblance of control over my domain, but alas, this is a good day. Some days are more chaotic than others. In my world, the best thing I have discovered is that "nothing stays the same, and nothing ever changes unless there's some pain involved". That doesn't mean that I don't keep trying to organize and get everything where I want it to be. It means that I do my best to rid myself of distractions until I actually need them, and then know where those distractions have gone. Once I know where they are, I try my mightiest to forget they are there, at least for the time being. Ultimately, I have to be aware of the fact that, most of the time, the person that gets in the way of my progressing on something, ultimately, is me. Thus, it is best to do whatever it takes to get me out of my own way whenever possible :).