barcampLA 4: personal unit tests
Taking a concept from software development and applying it to your life: test small parts of the system constantly. These tests should:

  • Be fixable within 1-2 hours after figuring out you failed the test
  • Test steps, not ends ("did I study Spanish for 20 minutes today?" not "am I fluent in seven languages?")
  • Test what, not how (don't really get this one)
  • Be as easy as possible, or you won't do it. Pencil and paper? Spreadsheet? whatever
  • Be answered every day. But you can create tests that have a time period longer than one day, e.g. "have I talked to my mother in the last seven days?" - you do it once, and then it's a freebie for the next six days

Goal is mindfulness - being aware of different areas of your life. Good areas to include are things like: health, community, relationships, work, finances ... but avoid introspection. "It's so much easier to lie to yourself about things that are just in your head ... I decided to only test things that someone else could verify if they happened to be there."

Guy (I think his name is Ted) tracks what % of tests he tracks every day, and has a goal of hitting at least 50% every day. Has gradually trended upwards over time, best day was 73%. He makes his test results public, with a changelog.

"Personal unit tests are a way to discover if you're kicking ass."

Q: "How do you know if you've covering enough areas of your life?" A: "The simple answer is you don't."

My favorite BCLA4 talk so far.

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