Mobile usage has increased manifold. Between emails, messaging, games and other applications, the amount of time we spend on a mobile device easily adds up to a sizeable number on a daily basis. While this is true even for a regular mobile user, the situation of a mobile tester is only worse with several hours of mobile screen time exposure everyday. With all the advancement in mobile application development, the demand for mobile testing has been sky rocketing. Mobile testing is a sought after niche that testers are desiring to grow into. This includes both manual and automated testing skills, specialized skills such as mobile performance, usability, security etc.
While the opportunities the mobile world has offered to the testing community are great, this is a group of people that are exposed to mobile screen time more than even the developers. Testers use real devices for a significant chunk of their working day to play around and test for varied applications, their compatibility, functionality and so on. Developers still largely use their desktops and laptops for their mobile app development, while most of the testing happens on real mobile devices. This is a big change for a tester who now spends long hours latched on to small screens. While not much direct co-relation has been established between mobile usage and health hazards, there are quite a few things to consider. It is definitely a strain on the tester’s eye. Also, long hours of bad posture when using a small mobile device can definitely result in neck and back pain. Research is slowly showing that such prolonged hours of exposure can bring down life expectancy in the long run. Above all, it is definitely a mental strain too on the tester to continue to look at small screens for a long time, which brings down his efficiency in his testing work.
From both health standpoints as well as keeping up his creativity in his testing job, it is becoming increasingly important for the tester to balance his mobile screen time with other activities and breaks. This will help bring in well-rounded balance in his work creating a WIN:WIN both for himself and the work he does in the long run. A happy and healthy employee means better contributions to his organization and the product he is testing. So, here are a few things he could do to balance his day, to help minimize and spread his screen time amongst other activities on his plate:
1. Definitely take breaks every few minutes (at least once in an hour or so). This need not always be a social break. It could be planned team meetings twice a day. This will also help brainstorm and get newer testing ideas
2. Use breaks to document test results, finish email activities, read any documents etc. Since the mobile screen exposure time is high, it would be a good practice for the tester to take on his other activities such as emails, document read up, any online research etc. on non-mobile screens. This will help the tester focus on his posture and also help with better viewing on a bigger screen
3. If testing activities can also be done on a non-mobile device, split his day such that a mix of both mobile and non-mobile devices testing is planned for
4. Time his calls with clients and other people such that it interlaces with his mobile testing time
5. Set aside his mobile testing cycles for a time of the day when he is fresh and energetic. Say for instance he has a 3 hour mobile testing requirement every day, see if he can do 2 hours in the morning and 1 hour after lunch so he is done with his task much earlier in the day when he is still fresh, rather than using a small screen later in the day when he is tired and exhausted
Granted the challenge with the above mentioned practices is that too many periodic breaks might affect the tester’s flow of thought adversely. It is really in the tester’s hand to draw this balance to ensure he gets periodic breaks from his mobile testing cycles to ensure he stays physically and mentally healthy, gets rejuvenated to get back to work and at the same time, is not distracted from a flow of thought he is in. Again, this need not be a strict regimen to follow daily. For example, on a given day, I may be in an activity that absolutely needs my undivided attention for 2 hours, while on another day, each long test case may just be ½ hr in duration that I can take logical breaks between them. As long as the tester is cognizant that such breaks will help him physically and mentally, and he can ensure his overall productivity is not impacted, he will be well on the path to shaping himself as a successful mobile tester.