Understand how you're going to approach your testing

I do a lot of exploratory testing. So when I'm doing test planning, you'd think the "Approach" section of my test plan would be the shortest, right? Wrong...

I see a lot of value in thinking about, describing, and writing out how I'll approach my testing. So much so, that when I'm getting ready to execute what I think will be a particularly challenging charter, I'll take a few minutes to outline how I'm going to approach my testing. For some tasks, I might even write a short procedure so I don't mess something up if there's a factor or variable I want to control for while I'm testing.

My rule is that I should always be able to articulate how I'm approaching the problem. If I can't do that, I've got no business getting started with my testing. It means I've got some additional research to do before I'm ready. If I can outline what I'm going to do, than I'm ready.