Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Brain Rules

The best book I've read this year is "Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School" by John Medina.

It is very enjoyable to read, not one of those books where you bribe yourself with a cup of tea and a biscuit if you just finish the chapter you're currently reading. It's easy to get engrossed in the text and not realize that hours have gone by.

The 12 principles are:

  1. Exercise
  2. Survival
  3. Wiring
  4. Attention
  5. Short Term Memory
  6. Long Term Memory
  7. Sleep
  8. Stress
  9. Sensory Integration
  10. Vision
  11. Gender
  12. Exploration

I'm not giving away. A lot of material is available for free at However, you'll get a lot more out of the material if you read the book too.

So the question remains: What does this have to do with testing?

Well, testing is an intellectually demanding task where concentration, focus, being alert is essential if you are to be effective. Based on what I learnt in this book I made some changes.

For example, I am a lark! I am at my most productive in the morning. Why fight that? So I get into work before 8am every morning to absolute joyous silence (apparently larks are rare in engineering and testing – who knew?) and I get a good 3 or 4 hours of productive work done. If I test during this period, I am far more likely to uncover high priority bugs. To allow for this interrupted time, I've rescheduled all my manager-type meetings to the afternoon.

Another example is how I've integrated little walks into my day, even if it's just going all the way to the canteen (a good 10 minute return journey) to get coffee instead of making it on my floor. These little walks recharge my brain and boost my brain power. I come back to my desk and easily refocus and apply myself to my work.

Etc, etc, etc.

Read the book – it really will open your eyes to the physiology and evolutional biology behind how we think and work.

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