Digging out after a conference

Diggin out after a conferenceI love going to conferences. Between organizing and genealogy conferences, I attend at least three a year.

Conferences are wonderful learning and networking opportunities, but they can present an organizing challenge. When I return home from a conference, I’m usually behind in my work and it’s so easy to leave everything I learned on a back burner. The biggest challenge is probably dealing with the literature I bring home from conferences. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that, in the past, items I picked up at trade shows have stayed in the bag untouched until they’re thrown away months or even years later.

Last month, I attended RootsTech. It had a gigantic trade show and I learned about so many new resources I wanted to explore. I was bound and determined that the information I bought home with me would not languish. Here’s how I handled it this year. (Spoiler alert: I’m feeling pretty good about it!)

  • I minimized what I brought home by carefully going through all the paper before packing my bag at the hotel room in Salt Lake City.
  • Once I got home to St. Louis, I put all the literature together until I could process it.
  • I spread it out and scanned it for the photo to go with this post (something non-bloggers wouldn’t have to consider!).
  • Then I gathered it into a pile and went through it piece by piece. I looked up the websites for each of the flyers I brought home. If the product or service still interested me, I added it to a note I created in Evernote called “Interesting resources from RootsTech 2015″ that I placed in my Evernote “Genealogy Resources” notebook.
  • For a couple of the resources, I created a follow up task in Things, the task management application I use.  I can assign a due date, so these tasks will pop up on my Today page next year  (helpful for reminders about conferences I might want to attend in 2016).
  • I jotted down some blog post ideas sparked by the literature and put them in my Blog Post Ideas notebook in Evernote.
  • I recycled all the paper, except two items I decided to file

The whole process took me about 30 minutes. It feels great! There were some resources I’d forgotten about already, but now they’re safe inside Evernote. I took action on a couple of items, signing up for newsletters and other services and making one inquiry about working with someone. And, perhaps best of all, I got rid of a pile of paper.

Taking 30 to 60 minutes to process this information really adds value to what I brought home from RootsTech. It’s an amazing return on the investment of time spent! I’m grateful for Evernote and Things which help me free up my memory so I can find this information when I need it.

I can’t wait to do it again after next month’s National Association of Professional Organizers conference.

Do you have a better (or different) way of digging out after a conference?

Can’t be at RootsTech? Watch from home

Crowds at RootsTech 2015I’m at RootsTech 2015 in Salt Lake City, with 22,000 of my closest friends. Seriously, this is one large conference.  But it’s amazingly manageable. One day in, I can say that the sessions are really valuable. And I’m happy to tell you that even if you’re not able to attend in person, you can remotely watch a selection of the sessions.

The streaming schedule is posted here. If you’re not available when they’re on live, have no fear. The website indicates that recordings of these sessions will be posted for a limited time on the RootsTech website after the conference.

One of the great aspects of the conference, the ginormous trade show, has to be experienced in person, alas. I’ve only scratched the surface my first day here, but I’ve already learned about some new products and services and had a good time talking with vendors. I’ll post some highlights at a later date.

If you have the chance to watch the live stream, I encourage it. This conference offers quality content that’s well worth the time investment.

This photo of the corridor at RootsTech on Thursday was taken by my friend, Lori Hanson Krause. Used with her permission.

FTU’s week-long genealogy organizing course

organize your genealogy in a weekIf you’re reading this blog, I know you’re interested in organizing your genealogy research. That’s why I wanted to let you know about an online course I just signed up for: Organize Your Genealogy in a Week, from Family Tree University. It’s being taught January 24 to 31 by Denise Levenick, The Family Curator. I’m a big fan of Denise’s blog and her book, How to Archive Family Keepsakes.

As a professional organizer and genealogy enthusiast, I have lots of ideas about how to organize genealogy research. But I’m very excited to learn what Denise has to teach and I’m sure I’ll pick up great ideas. Plus I’m sure I’ll benefit from the questions course participants ask Denise.

The workshop tuition is $129.99. It takes the form of six 30- to 60-minute videos and two written lessons, to watch/read at your leisure, along with expert advice from Denise in the message boards.

If you plan to attend as well, let me know in the comments!

Questioning my assumptions

marriage record snippetThis past October, I wrote a post called Using a timeline to solve a problem. In it I reported how pleased I was that I could use a timeline to address a discrepancy between records I had seen that listed my great great grandparents’ wedding day as March 14, 1865 and those that listed it as May 14, 1865. I concluded, after taking into account the timeline and applying logic to the situation, that they must have been married in March, when my gggrandfather was on furlough from a “disabled camp” during the Civil War, rather than in May when records seemed to indicate that he was in a Union prison-of-war camp.

However, since that time, I sent away for records from the courthouse in Shelby County, Alabama, where they were married that spring. These handwritten records seem to clearly say May, not March. Even more compelling, it’s a chronological record and this one falls after a marriage that occurred in April. So it seems like my great great grandfather’s recollection was correct when he listed his marriage date as May 14 on the Alabama Census of Confederate Soldiers!

Perhaps he was paroled a couple weeks before the June 3 date listed in his records. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll never find out. But today, anyway, I’m going back to May 14 as the date in my records.

I’m certainly not discounting timelines as a viable way to analyze information. But what I am taking away from this is that I should avoid thinking of any problem solved, just because I reached what I think is a logical conclusion. I imagine this lesson will come back to me on more than one occasion as I do genealogy research!