04 February 2011

Genealogy Organization–January 2011 Recap–Getting it done!

My desk is clean, but that picture only told part of the story. DearMYRTLE’s January 2011 Organization Checklist was full of important organizational tasks. Here is how I completed the rest. 

Backup Your Genealogy Data
I will freely admit here among my reading friends, that I am paranoid about backing up my photos and genealogical data. MJ is in I.T. (Information Technology), so our home computers sit on a server and are backed up nightly via Windows Home Server. This home backup is then backed up off site. Please don’t ask me where. I don’t know. Somewhere, out there, in the cloud.

Because I am backup crazy, the aforementioned backup, even though fully sufficient according to MJ, doesn’t placate my neurosis. I like to be able to have a physical backup in my possession. On my desk, I keep a 1TB Western Digital My Book to backup all of my files, including images.

In my travel bag I keep a new Seagate Expansion 640 GB portable hard drive with my entire photo library. I also have two older portable Lacie hard drives, which I will most likely re-purpose for backups of Bubba’s slides. 

The frosting on top of all of these backups is DropBox, which I use primarily to back up all of my genealogical stuff. A few days ago I upgraded to 50GB so that I could add more photos. DropBox is convenient because I can access these files from either my primary notebook, my Lenovo ideapad or my Adroid phone. In my DropBox, I also keep a Scrappy Genealogist folder with all of my blog related files.

Clear Off the Computer Desk and Make Piles for Everything
You saw this in the photo challenge along with my new organized piles.

Check Your Office Supplies
This is the fun task. Who doesn’t love a trip to Staples? This month I replenished my supply of page protectors, Avery Clear Pocket Dividers and Avery Heavy Duty D-Ring binders in dark navy.

Instead of the oversized tabbed dividers, I use Avery Clear Pocket Clear Label Dividers.  With these dividers, which are also oversized, I have a pocket for each individual into which I can quickly place either research in progress, notes or to be filed items.

Set Up the Computer Desk
My desk works well, but the old kitchen chair is outlasting its usefulness. My wish list includes a comfortable rolling chair, as I have an L shaped arrangement. 

The Golden Clipboard
You must read about the Golden Clipboard. What a fun idea. I actually don’t need one, as I share my bedroom with my very own computer nerd! Does that make you curious about the clipboard?

Bright Idea – Hanging File Box 
To quick store surname information, I keep a file drawer with three different file colors; one for my family surnames, one for my husband’s family surnames and one for place names. I still may make a portable alphabetical file box to temporarily store documents, but not sure if I will use it as much as my surname files.

Surname Binders
In 2009 I started creating my coffee table binders as suggested by Ol’ Myrt. You can see them on the shelf:

The labeling isn’t pretty, but is sufficient for now and easily changeable. Wow, am I glad that I followed this nugget of advice. Creating coffee table surname binders is almost like and can include scrapbooking, which I love. It is vital to get your surnames out of your files and computers and into books that your non-genealogically minded family members will enjoy perusing. If you still have doubts, be sure to read the story on page 11 of the January [2011] Organization Checklist.

Digital Filing System
This is another area I was lucky to start back in 2009 with a folder for each surname. The only change now is that I  keep all of my genealogy files in DropBox. My main genealogy folder has folders for surnames, places, finding aids, resources, forms and seminars. 

Scanning and ScanFest
My primary scanner is an Epson 4490, which I have had for years. My newer scanners are the Flip-Pal and the Magic Wand.

I got snowed out of the December ScanFest hosted by Miriam Robbins Midkiff at AnceStories.  When I saw that Ol’ Myrt recommended attending the January ScanFest event, I put the family on notice and locked the library door. All that is required to attend ScanFest is to head to Miriam’s site at the appointed hour. I arrived on time and was thrilled to get a spot. The full house included both newbies and experienced scanfesters. I was able to get some technical questions answered about scanning slides and noticed lots of others sharing tips and tricks.  

While it was tricky to type, read, scan and file, I eventually found a productive rhythm. When I attend again there are a couple of things I will do differently; have a pile of items ready to scan and scan all items into a To Be Filed folder. It would be easiest to scan a group of related items; all photos from one event, one child’s school papers, etc. One thing I know for sure? I will definitely be at the next ScanFest on February 27th at 2PM Eastern Time.

January Organization
There was a lot to get done this month, so don’t feel badly if you haven’t finished. I certainly haven’t. My ongoing projects include creating more surname binders, scanning and digital filing. This month is more about getting your structure in place so that you have places to put everything.

If I was ever a cheerleader, I would come up with a great big ‘M’ is for Myrtle cheer to thank her for leading us on this organizational journey, but alas I was not. So, thank you Ol’ Myrt from the bottom of my genealogical heart! You are a true inspiration.

Time to get busy with the February 2011 Organization Checklist!

Happy Organizing!

Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!


  1. Looks like you get a gold star on your chart,Scrappy! Looks like you did a great job this past month. If we didn't set such lofty goals, we'd never really make any headway in the organization department.

    Thanks for sharing,

  2. It looks wonderful! Unfortunately as long as my hubby and I continue to share a desk it will never be organized. I may need to do something about that! :)

  3. Thanks Myrt.

    Cheryl, My hubby and I learned long ago that we can't share a desk. You impress me that you can!


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