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?

RootsTech early bird deadline extended

RootsTech 2015 registration is openIf you’ve been on the fence about attending RootsTech 2015, to be held in Salt Lake City February 12 to 14, now’s the time to commit. They’ve just extended the early bird price of $159 for the three-day conference. You can grab it until Monday, January 26.

To get more information and to register, go to the RootsTech website.

I attended last year and loved it and will be attending again this year. I think $159 for the level of education you get there is a gigantic bargain. (By contrast, I pay about $600 for registration for my organizers’ professional conferences.)

If you decide to go, please let me know in the comments. Perhaps we can meet!

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness has returned!

RAOGK is back!Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK), the website where frustrated family history researchers could request (and receive) help from strangers, has returned after a three-year hiatus. In its heyday, the website, which was started in 1999, had over 4,000 volunteers. Due to the illness and subsequent death of one of its founder, Bridgett Schneider, it ceased operations in 2011. (Thanks to Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter for the background.)

The website is trying to build itself back to its former glory and is looking for volunteers to do courthouse lookups, tombstone photos, and similar local tasks. Volunteers are reimbursed for expenses, but not time, and are expected to do at least one free genealogy research task (an Act of Kindness) monthly.

This is a great example of the genealogical generosity I learned about last year at Roots Tech. I love how genealogists help one another–and I love that RAOGK will make it so easy to help. If you’re so inclined, I urge you to go to the website and register as a volunteer in your local area. (And, of course, if you’re in a fix with your research look to see if there are volunteers in the area where you need help.)

 

Another great resource: free newsletters

weeklygenealogistI’m a big fan of the genealogy resources I pay for. Ancestry.com, Fold3.com, Family Tree magazine and Family Tree University have all been worth the money I paid for them and I’m lucky that I have the resources to budget for them.

One reason I’m glad to pay for the subscription sites is that they provide one-stop shopping, in a sense. They’re chock full of information so I can search away at one site for hours.

But there are many free resources available that a genealogy researcher could certainly keep busy without every spending a dime.

For me, anyway, sometimes the challenge lies in finding (and remembering) these resources. One great source for them, I’ve found, are genealogy society newsletters and newsletters from luminaries in the genealogy field.

When the newsletters land in my inbox, I give them a quick scan. And then I move them into a family history research email folder, waiting to come up in a search if I need them. Since I have an inbox zero policy, I do at least glance at each newsletter before filing it.

Recently that paid off when I quickly looked over The Weekly Genealogist, the newsletter for the New England Historic Genealogical Society. It had a spotlight on Washington State genealogical resources, including a link to the searchable website of the Masonic Memorial Park in Tumwater, Washington, where, it turns out, my great grandmother and great grandfather, Hattie and Elmer Adams, are buried. I love that I received Pacific Northwest resources via a New England Society!

Here are  some of the free newsletters I subscribe to.

What valuable free newsletters am I missing? I’d love to hear about your favorites.