January 30 x 30 challenge update

30x30 challengeI’m halfway through the 30 days of my 30 x 30 challenge. Back in August when I last did this, I was able to post about my wonderful progress and how I hadn’t missed a day.

Alas, that’s not the case this time. I underestimated the impact of our puppy, Bix, on my productivity and available time. As I mentioned a month ago, Bix joined our family on December 13 as an eight-week-old puppy. He’s now 13 weeks old and growing up to be a very well behaved puppy. But during those five weeks he required a whole lot of attention to keep him out of trouble. Couple that with January being my busiest month for my organizing business (which I should have taken into account) and I find I’m doing little but working with clients, watching and training Bix, and handling essential admin tasks for Peace of Mind Organizing.

In other words, I’ve barely done any genealogy research in the past two weeks. I’ve managed 30 minutes just a few days. If I didn’t have the challenge going, I’m confident I wouldn’t have done any!

But I’m not throwing in the towel. Instead I’m regrouping and thinking about the lessons of the month so far:

  • My genealogy research isn’t going anywhere, but my puppy is growing up fast.
  • Serving my organizing clients obviously has to be a priority.
  • The fact that I’m not researching daily doesn’t devalue the research I’ve been able to do.
  • Fear of failure shouldn’t stop me from starting challenges like these. It’s okay not to succeed.
  • I’ll be starting up a new challenge as soon as the time is right. I love these challenges!
  • Next time I do a 30 x 30 challenge I want to take a close look at the calendar and consider competing factors. This was an ill-timed challenge, despite it being the first of the year
  • Some research is better than no research. I’ll keep doing what research I can.

I’m thrilled that some of you are taking part in the challenge and reporting on your successes on the blog. Please continue doing so!

I imagine it will be at least a couple of months before Bix is less labor-intensive. Until then, I’m going to cut myself a break!

Join me in a 30 x 30 challenge?

30x30 challengeLast summer, I did a personal 30 x 30 challenge, in which I committed to doing 30 minutes of family history research for 30 days. It had a number of benefits, the most obvious of which was that I accomplished 15 hours of family history research that month!

With the holiday season, travel, and the addition of a puppy to our family, I got precious little family history research done the last month or two of the year. So I decided that the new year was a great time to start a new 30 x 30 challenge.

I intended to start it on January 1, but I woke up on New Year’s Day with a cold (and a bit of a hangover), so put it off until January 2. I did research on the 2nd and 3rd and completely forgot about it yesterday.

So today, I’m starting a new challenge, which will run from January 5 to February 4. I’m working on my Adams line this quarter, so I will be focusing on the Civil War pension file for my union ancestor George Washington Adams, as well as checking my sources and making sure my electronic documents are properly filed for my other Adams ancestors.

Let me know if you’d care to join me in a 30 x 30 challenge this month!

What’s your biggest organizing challenge?

When it comes to organizing your genealogy, what’s your biggest challenge? (For me, I think it’s finding the time and using it well.)

I’d love to know what your challenges are, so I’ve created a little poll. Select as many answers as you’d like. Feel free to select Other and fill in your challenge if I haven’t thought of it. Also, feel free to elaborate in the comments. Knowing what you find challenging will help me decide what to write about.

How orderly is your research desk?

cleandeskIf you can’t remember the last time you saw your desktop in your genealogy research space, perhaps it’s time to experience the joy of a clean desk. I know that time to do genealogy research is limited for most people and the last way  you want to spend your precious genealogy time is on cleaning up your desk. But it’s worth it. When you sit down at a clear desk, your mind is more clear and you can be more focused on your research.

But there’s good news: It doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. Here’s a step-by-step suggestion for creating some order on your desk, swiftly.

  1. Set your timer for 25 minutes.*
  2. Clear everything off your desk (and I mean everything except, perhaps, your computer). Put like things together into rough categories as you go. (For example, put papers together in a pile on the floor near your desk; put office supplies together, etc.) It might helpful to have some bankers’ boxes or plastic totes handy to hold the categories, but the floor will do too.
  3. Put away the items that already have homes. For example, put binders and books where they belong. If something belongs in another room, put it in a box or bin that you’ve marked “Relocate to another room” so you don’t wander away from the room you’re working on. At the end of the session, you can put all that stuff away.
  4. Go through the non-paper items and put back on the desk those things that deserve to take up such prime real estate. Only those things you use every research session should be placed within arms’ reach when you’re sitting at your desk (with the possible exception of items that give you great pleasure to look at). Relocate or discard the other non-paper items that were on the desk.
  5. Take all those papers and put them in a box of some sort. Mark that box “Backlog.” (I use a box similar to this one from IKEA for that purpose and I place that box on a shelf.)
  6. Every time you’re at your desk, set a timer for ten minutes and go through the papers in the backlog, discarding, scanning and/or filing as required. Do this ten minutes a day for as long as it takes to eliminate the backlog. (You might be surprised how few of these short sessions it takes.)
  7. Don’t add to the backlog box. Instead, at the end of each research session take the time (probably less than five minutes) to clear off your desk and put everything away. That way, you’ll start each session fresh.

* When your timer goes off, stop what you’re doing and take a five-minute break. Then set it for another 25 minutes and get back to work, unless you’re done.