Focusing my efforts in 2014

My strategy for focusing my genealogy efforts in 2014In December every year, I take some time to set some goals. I set them for my organizing business and for my personal life. This will be the second year I’ve set goals for my genealogy research. (If you want, you can read the goals I set last year.)

In thinking about my genealogy goals for 2014, I realized that I really want to be more focused and organized in going about my research. I still struggle with not knowing what to work on in any given session. And that lack of focus makes it hard for me to actually get started.

I just hit upon an idea that I think I’ll try. I’m going to assign a family line to each quarter of the year. In this structure (which I just thought of, so it’s still evolving in my head), I won’t be limited to working on that line necessarily, but if I don’t have something else specific I want to do, I will work on the family line assigned to that quarter.

I’ve decided that the schedule will be as follows:

  • 1st quarter: Adams (my father’s father’s line)
  • 2nd quarter: Brown (my mother’s father’s line)
  • 3rd quarter: Rasco (my father’s mother’s line)
  • 4th quarter: Jeffries (my mother’s mother’s line)

At the start of each quarter, I’ll take stock of where my research lies. I’ll use my progress tracker to see what census, vital and military records I’ve already located.

During each quarter, I’ll try to do the following for each of the lines:

  • Fill in the gaps on my progress tracker
  • Make sure my surname files for that line are organized on my hard drive
  • Ensure that everything in my paper files for that line is also organized on my hard drive
  • Fill in collateral relatives on my family tree in Reunion
  • Search for sources for unsourced data provided to me by cousins
  • Go up at least one generation in verified information
  • Attach photos to my family tree in Reunion

What I like about this idea is that it should keep me more focused. And help me feel less overwhelmed. It should get me past the “what should I work on today?” question that can be such a barrier. And, perhaps best of all, it gives me some specific goals and a deadline–the end of the quarter. (I love a deadline!)


  1. John Sparrow says:

    Hi Janine. I tried something like the progress tracker during 2013 with reasonable success. Could you say what your colour codes are, please.
    Like the idea of a family a quarter, but that has to fit in with priorities, including a full time job, creating a website for the local family history society, trying to do some study through the NIGS in Toronto, etc. So what I’ve been doing is sticking to a family until I’m going around in circles, and getting refreshed by switching families.

    • John, on my progress tracker the colored fields indicate that record has been found, white indicates the record has not been found and grey indicates that the person was not alive during that time period so no record could be found.

      You’re absolutely right about priorities and time available to do genealogy research. I should make it clear that I don’t expect to get all the things done for all the people in a line each quarter. I think I’ll just like having a checklist of things to look for and something to work toward. And I think I’ll dig having a deadline. We shall see!

      I think your strategy of sticking to a family until you hit a wall and being refreshed by switching families is a really good one!

  2. Karin Coppernoll says:

    I love your idea of assigning a family line to each quarter. I’m still trying to fit in my research between organizing my records into digital format as well as continue my genealogy education. I’ve got to fit working, raising a family and household chores in there too. Looking forward to seeing how 2014 works out.

    • Thanks, Karin. I think this quarterly planning is an intriguing idea. We’ll see how it works out. It can be so hard to fit in research around daily life!

      Thanks for commenting!

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