Friday, 24 February 2017

100 Day Deep Work - Mastering Automation

Hi All,

I recently caught a tweet to a blog post by James Willett (Twitter / Blog) where he mentioned the idea of doing a 100 day Deep Work Challenge. The basic idea of which is that over 100 days you do a 90 minute focused session to achieve a defined learning or productivity goal. It’s a great idea that I’ve decided to take up the challenge!

Now I haven’t read the book that James refers to, but hey, grab it via my Amazon link. I’ve Instead read the very informative blog post he created. Make sure to read it and have a look at the infographic he produced. While I recognise reading the book would probably be wise to read, I’m going to say I don’t need to as I already know what I want to study and having done similar challenges in the past, James’ post is a good enough guide.

So what’s my challenge?

A New Year’s Resolution
At the start of 2017 I made a commitment to transforming my technical capability with automation – by the end of the year. Yes, I’ve been doing automation as an element of my delivery toolkit for about 5 years, but I’ve never felt I have the deep expertise that I have around testing. I’m happy that 90% of the time I am the best tester in the room. Not being arrogant, it’s just I’ve studied, written, presented, mentored, taught and applied what I do for the last 15+ years. I better be pretty good by now!

With automation however, I’ve always felt there’s a huge body of knowledge I have yet to acquire and a depth of expertise that I have a duty to possess when delivering automation to clients, that I don’t currently possess. That troubles me. My wife disagrees, saying I am probably better than I think. She may be right, but I know what level I want to achieve and how that looks in terms of delivery and I’m not there yet.

So, to the Challenge. In summary, I’m going to focus on the deep learning and subsequent practical use of C#, Selenium WebDriver, SpecFlow (and so BDD) and Git. As I’m not paying for the SpecFlow+ Runner I’m going to generate reports using Pickles.

Let’s look in details at the 6 Rules James outlines in his blog post:

1) 90 Minutes everyday
That’s actually fine, I spend easily that each day studying generally anyway and though it’s a longish session the idea is that I accelerate the learning.
Caveat – There’s a catch here, I am NOT doing this at weekends. Simply because we have a family agreement that I can work and study as hard as I like in the week, but weekends are for family. Laptop shut, 100% attention to family. No exceptions.

2) No distractions
As Rule 3 stipulates doing Deep learning first, that’s fine as I’ll be locked in a room on my own

3) Deep Work first
The Deep Work will be done first thing in the morning so that’s also just fine. It means getting up a notable amount of time earlier, but that just means I need to get to be earlier. Not a bad thing as it’ll stop me ‘ghosting’ around through the small hours as I often do.  I need to be out to work by 8.00am, so my start time is going to be 6am. Ugh, let’s see if I can keep that up!

4) Set an Overall Goal
The Goal to achieve is reasonably simple to prove as a friend and I have set up a new site called; where the goal is to provide a real back-to-basics and step-by-step series of posts and pages that allow newcomers to automation to get set-up and running with Selenium based automation. If that site isn’t content heavy by mid-year, you know I didn’t complete the challenge.

5) Summarise every session
Every session will be summarised on this blog, using the tag #100DayDeepWork and I’ll post a link on Twitter each day and sometimes on LinkedIn. Yep, no hiding if I succeed or fail. I’ll not only post the update about what I’m learning, I’ll share how the challenge is going generally.

6) Chart your Progress
I’m going to make a Calendar / Chart with the days showing, then publish it each day on this blog and link it via Twitter too. As per the Caveat in Step 1, that means I’ll achieve the 100 days in roughly 5 months. Feels like a long haul already.

There it is; 100 days of Deep Work, 100 Tweets, 100 Blog posts. Let’s see how this goes!

As a last thought – Let’s add a Good Cause into the mix
Blog views and advert clicks off those posts generate revenue. My ad revenue is minimal, about a £1 a week on average. If you take the time to view the posts daily, you’ll generate ad revenue. If you see an ad you like then click it and they’ll be a bit extra generated. At the footer of each post I’ll add any affiliate links I have. Use them to generate affiliate revenue. 

OK, onto the Deep Work!