Doing the research vs. organizing the research

doing research vs organizing researchI suspect that most genealogy enthusiasts prefer doing research to organizing the results. A large part of the fun (for me, anyway) is playing detective and making discoveries. That’s thrilling. But if we don’t process our finds, what good do they do us?

I was thinking about that today as I thought about whether to do some genealogy research or spend the time working on organizing my research. I feel I’ve been so out of touch with my research (still blaming my puppy, Bix, and my long work hours) that I don’t even know where I stand with anything. That makes me feel a bit paralyzed.

I could jump right back into the research and maybe have some fun, but I think I’d be better off taking stock of where things stand organization-wise. And for me that means:

  • Looking over my genealogy to-do list
  • Looking at my progress tracker and updating it if necessary
  • Looking on my hard drive for electronic files related to the Adams family (this quarter’s family) and filing them
  • Pulling out my backlog box marked “genealogy stuff to read” that I didn’t even remember I had and going through the contents. I just peeked in it and it contains documents picked up at genealogy conferences in 2015. I suspect I’ll be able to pretty swiftly dispatch a lot of it. If not, I’ll add items to my genealogy task list (like I described in my blog post, Banishing the stubborn pile).
  • Updating my task list with the tasks that will inevitably result from this activity.

That’s a pretty long list, but it shouldn’t take too long. And, I remind myself, I don’t have to do all of it. Any effort here will be beneficial. Once I have a better handle on what I’m doing and what steps I need to do to improve my organization, I’ll have a clearer head. And I’ll have more direction when it comes to doing actual research. Something tells me it will be much easier to get started researching then!

Photo above taken by me using the SHOTBOX tabletop photo light studio.

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!

Keeping my research interesting

Keeping genealogy research interestingSince I heard Josh Taylor speak in early August, I’ve been really trying to keep a laser focus on my short research to-do list in an effort to keep from being distracted. My 30 x 30 challenge helped a lot. Since I didn’t give myself the option of not researching during that time, it was very helpful to just go to the list (which had me either transcribing one ancestor’s Civil War pension file or working on citations for another).

But here’s the thing: When my 30-day challenge was over, I took a little break, because processing those pension files started to feel a little like drudgery. And I was reluctant to go back to it. It made me realize that I need to change up the research from time to time if I’m going to do it on a regular basis.

As I pondered that, I saw the error of my ways. I took Josh Taylor’s advice to have one to three projects on my to-do list. (I had two.) But I skipped the part about also having three to five extended projects (brick walls) that I can dabble in when I need to mix it up.

So here’s what I’m going to do to keep my research interesting and, I hope, to get back to daily research: I’m adding one main project to my list along with five extended projects/problems. That’s my list pictured above.

I have a leisurely weekend ahead, so I’m hoping to enjoy doing some genealogy research. My revamped list will help!