As I mentioned in my Searcher vs researcher post at the end of August, I was overwhelmed by the documents I had downloaded over the past few months and not processed. I knew there was information in those documents that I needed to analyze and add to my Reunion software. Letting them languish without analysis was not smart. And it was stressing me out.
So I vowed not to search for new information until I’d processed all those documents. There were 103 of them, including 30 loose documents; 49 documents in a Montana folder (most of them newspaper articles) about my father’s uncle, Harry Adams (1895-1977), who was a legendary coach at the University of Montana; and 24 19th-century deeds for my Adams ancestors.
I worked diligently on this backlog. Every research session was devoted to it. I loved the focus that this project gave me. I wasn’t able to completely stop searching, but I did process any documents I downloaded in the same session in which I downloaded them, so I didn’t add to my backlog. To keep me going, I kept a spreadsheet of my progress.
I was out of town visiting my father the last week of September and didn’t do any document processing (except on my plane rides) but I started up when I returned. On October 2, I declared the project finished! But here’s a big caveat: I didn’t process the deeds. I couldn’t face them, because they need transcription and I just wasn’t up to tedium of that task. I’ve shifted my research focus from the Adams family to the Rasco family and so I gave myself permission to let those deeds lie dormant in my Adams surname folder until I start researching Adams line again.
So I ended up processing 79 documents in this burst. I feel good about this decision and about this whole project. It’s great to have that backlog virtually eliminated. I’m newly dedicated to not letting it build up again–I’m cognizant of the fact that I need stop searching and start processing well before the end of a research session so that I stay on top of these documents.
For the most part, when I came up with new research possibilities while processing my backlog, I made a note in one of my follow-up notebooks (I have follow-up notebooks, organized by surname in Evernote) and now I’m exploring those possibilities, focusing on the Rascos, which has been fun.
Staying focused in my research is a something I deal with constantly. Finishing this project makes me feel more focused and on top of my research. That’s a great feeling!