I was out of town for ten days and I managed to sneak in a little genealogy research. I returned on May 7 to a full client schedule for my organizing business. I’m certainly not complaining about that, but I have not had the energy and time to do any genealogy research for over a week.
I was regretting that state of affairs when I realized I didn’t have to have a large swath of time available to me in order to get some research done. Sometimes just spending a little time on it to reconnect me with my ancestors and get the ball rolling again can be really beneficial.
In the past, a big barrier to my starting a research session was figuring out what to work on. But now I have a few small, systematic projects I can always fall back on. This morning, I decided to set a timer and work on my research for just 15 minutes. I had three choices of easy things to dive into:
- Checking my source documentation
- Adding multimedia files to sources in Reunion where missing (step six of my digital workflow, which I didn’t add until later in my research life)
- Transcribing the Civil War pension file of George Washington Adams (1845-1938), my 2nd great grandfather
For any of these projects, I could make some progress in just 15 minutes. I chose to work on option #1, checking my source documentation. I have a checklist in Evernote in which I check off each source after I’ve made sure that the source citation is good, the multimedia file is attached to the source and the pertinent data from the source was included in Reunion. When I finish a source I check it off so I can always see where I stand.
This morning, the next source on the list was the Compiled Service Record for a different 2nd great grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Igleheart (1845-1913). I hit the jackpot, because I hadn’t done a great job of extracting data to include in his record on Reunion. The 15 minutes flew by as I noted his eye, hair and complexion color, for example. (His eyes were listed as black!)
I didn’t actually finish going through the 16-page record, but I employed a trick I learned years ago: When my timer went off, I stopped, even though I was in the middle of a document. I know that since our brains crave completion, I’ll be anxious to get right back to the document and finished extracting data from it. Then I’ll check it off my source documentation checklist (another satisfying thing to do). I made a note in my research log to remind me where I left off. I’d be willing to bet I’ll be so anxious to finish it that I work on it this evening.
I find that if I spend too much time away from my research I feel disconnected from it. Taking a little snippet of time to work on it this morning will help me get back to it this weekend, when I have more time.