Creating a genealogy to-do list

gentodolistsampleI know I have two big impediments when it comes to making progress with my genealogy research. One is that I often don’t know where to start in a particular session. The other is that I think I need a huge block of time and that huge block rarely comes.

But I know better. I am a big believer in grabbing snippets of time to complete discrete tasks. For me, this is true in life and in genealogy research. But my reluctance to start a short session still rears its head.

Yesterday, as I was pondering this situation, I came up with a strategy that might be helpful. I created a form for myself where I can separate tasks by the amount of time I think they’ll take. That way, when I find myself with 30 minutes to spend on family history research, I can scan the “30 minutes” section (or the “15 minutes or less” section) and hop right into a task. The form I created has seven sections: 15 minutes (or less), 30 minutes, one hour, two hours, half day, full day, and weekend.

Since I’m trying to focus on one branch of my family per quarter, I decided to make a separate list for each branch. That way, if I come across some leads for families I’m not working on this quarter, I can put them on the appropriate list, and when that quarter rolls around I’ll already have a task list to get me started.

If I manage to use this form consistently, it should serve a few purposes:

  • I’ll be able to jump right into my research without feeling overwhelmed
  • My sessions should be more focused and productive
  • I’ll research more frequently, because I won’t be waiting for large blocks of time to emerge
  • If I hit a dead end, I can go right back to my list to refocus

I can’t wait to give this a try. I’ve started with a short list for a couple of family branches. I’m going to figure out a way to include routine tasks on the list (like updating my progress tracker and making sure that all paper documents are also properly stored on my hard drive) so that they get done relatively painlessly. I think this will definitely be a work in progress.

In the next week or two, I’ll create a template for you to use in your research and include it in the Printables section of this site. I’m going to wait a little while to do so, so that I can refine it a bit, based on my use. (An excerpt of my one-day-old version of the form is what’s pictured with this post.) I’m thinking that I may drop the final two sections, since I want to include smaller tasks, not large projects, on the list. But I’ll use it awhile before deciding.

I’m curious: Do you find it hard to figure out where to start when you have time to do genealogy research? Or is that something peculiar to me?

Readers weigh in on blog-reading tools

Feedly is popular among genealogy blog readersEarlier this month, I solicited your suggestions for blog-reading tools. I was interested in hearing how you keep up with the various blogs you read. I was thrilled to receive about a dozen comments with suggestions. As promised, I’m compiling them here for easy reference.

Feedly was the blog reader of choice for five commenters. Two of those were Thomas MacEntee and Jana Last, whose blogs highlight other genealogy blogs, use Feedly. If Feedly is good enough for these blog power-readers, I think it’s probably good enough for me. I’ve just downloaded it and am going to give it a go. So far, set up has been intuitive and easy!

Here are the other suggestions (each of which were mentioned once), in case you want to try any of them:

Several people mentioned that they formerly used and like Google Reader. Alas, Google, in its infinite wisdom, discontinued that service last year.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to share information for this post!

Keeping up with blogs

How do you manage your blog reading?There are so many great genealogy blogs out there. (I’m flattered that you’re reading this one when you have so many choices!) I am delighted to be part of the GeneaBloggers community, which points me to new and existing genealogy blogs, but I know I underutilize it.

Today I’m pondering how I might do a better job of (a) finding genealogy blogs to read; (b) remembering to read them and (c) finding the time to do so.

So I thought I’d turn to my readers. You guys are such a great source of information. Would you mind telling me how you organize your genealogy blog reading? Do you use RSS feeds and, if so, what platform do you use to read them?I’ve been thinking I could create a Flipboard of favorite blogs but I haven’t even explored it.

I think this is one of those situations where I’m overwhelmed by options and don’t know how to go about researching it without it turning into a huge time suck.

Any advice is much appreciated! I’ll do a follow-up post with the results of this little poll so we can all benefit. (I’d also love to hear what your five favorite genealogy blogs are!)

Thank you!!

Photo by Shardayyy via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

When life gets in the way of research

Finding time for genealogy researchI had a wonderful research trip last month and I really enjoyed being immersed in my genealogy research. But I don’t think I’ve done any family history research since then! That is a crying shame.

It’s not a bad problem to have:  I’m so busy with paying work (helping clients get organized) that I’m having trouble finding time to do genealogy research. But it’s also not acceptable. If I want to do this research (and I do), I need to make it a priority.

I know I’ve felt this way at times before, so I perused the articles from this blog tagged time management. And I was inspired. I noticed a shift in how things are going for me. My lack of research these days is truly due to lack of time, not lack of direction or feelings of overwhelm as it used to be. So that’s progress. (The end result–no research getting done– is the same, unfortunately.) My quarterly plan really gives me direction, which is so beneficial to how I feel about doing research.

But as I wrote in this article, it really is about priority management, not time management. I’m fortunate in that I have control over my schedule, both work and personal, since I don’t have kids and my husband makes few demands on my time. So I could, in theory anyway, reserve a day of the week for genealogy research. It might mean delaying (or possibly even losing) billable hours. Or it might mean prioritizing my desires over my clients’ (which feels really weird).

The bottom line is this (at least right now): If I don’t make doing my family history research a priority, time to do it is not going to materialize. I need to schedule it, not wait for free blocks of time. And, if necessary, I need to sneak it into available pockets of time.

In March 2013, I created a genealogy time-management plan. Looking back, it might have been overly ambitious and I admit it fell by the wayside. So now, I think if I simply block off  four hours a week where I focus on actual family history research (not writing this blog, not reading other people’s blogs), I will make progress. That sounds completely doable.

Maybe in June I’ll be able to schedule a little genealogy staycation of a few days’ duration. That sounds really wonderful.

How about you? How do you find the time to do your family history research?

Photo by nicksarebi via Flickr.