21 September 2011

Genealogical Jump Start - Part 1

Feel like you need a genealogical jump start? Have you had trouble working on your family tree? How long has it been? Weeks, months, years? You are not alone. I am here and in the same boat. How about we grab our oars and start rowing back to the family history work we love? 

Step 1: Figure out what is getting in the way of your genealogical pursuits.

There is quite a story about my journey over the last few months, too much for this post. As happens to many of us, a lot has been going on around our ranch and my energy has been devoted to keeping the home fires burning. What is keeping you from your research?  It could be scheduling conflicts, time management, health issues, work restraints, etc. Be honest with yourself and figure out what is hindering your work. Then, do what you can to fix it. If it is a health issue, put that front and center. Is it simply a matter of using your time more productively? Try to get up a little earlier, do your morning routine and then get to work. That's what I did today. It was a late school start day, but I just sent my youngest off to the bus and was ready to sit right down and get busy. What changes can you make to free yourself to get down to some serious family history fun?

Step 2: Clear your genealogy work space.

If you are researching your family tree, you have created piles. Some of your piles may even have piles. Mine do after just several months of neglect. Let's create some order from our chaos. The goal is to make a space where you can start working on your family history again.

Here is what my space looks like this morning:

Starting on one side of your work space, pick up and sort one item at a time, using whatever system works best for you. If you have years of accumulated items, label and use large plastic totesto start getting organized. 

A large portion of what was on my desk was a result of a stash the clutter we did last weekend while getting ready for my father in law's 90th birthday party. After separating items unrelated to family history research, this remained:

My sorting job wasn't that large today and piles worked. If you are doing a big sort, it may take you several days or even longer to complete the job. I recommend having one tote for each of the following:

  • people or family lines you are researching (throw them all into one tote for now, ie Smiths, Jones, Thomas all in one)
  • places you are researching or plan to visit
  • business cards, memberships, subscriptions, classes, conferences etc. 
  • books
  • periodicals
  • photos, slides, or other images
  • ephemera/physical objects
  • cds, dvds, flash drives, etc.

Step 3: Take a Break

If you have addressed your stumbling blocks and started clearing your work space, give yourself a pat on the back and go put your feet up. If you haven't started, get out some paper and a pen and start writing down the reasons why you haven't been able to work on your family history research. Just write them down and give yourself some time to think about them. Then write down the reasons why you would like to get started again. Do those reasons motivate you to fix whatever it is that has been getting in the way? Let me know what you think and how you are doing. Remember we are in this together. I've got the other oar. 

Happy Wednesday!

Scrappy Gen
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