Sunday, January 6, 2013

Managing 2013 Goals

Only a few days ago I posted my genealogy goals for this year, and I am already making progress.

I hate to admit this, but my computer desk top was covered with files and images along with a To Do file just chocked full of images and files that I put there as I jumped from Internet site to site downloading every interesting thing I found.  I had great intentions of recording, analyzing, and writing up each and every item.  But, it was more fun to "discover" than to do the work necessary to make those finds meaningful.  The few times I did sit down with good intentions to tackle the "to do" mess, I was quickly overwhelmed.  There was no organization, so every time I opened my To Do folder dozens and dozens of files from every surname and every location in my database jumped out at me -- and they were all mixed up in one fat file. 

My #1 goal this year is to:   Reorganize my computer filing system, so that I can easily find records and images. 

Of course this sounds great, but it is a HUGE undertaking.  I already have a pretty good filing system for my Surnames and Locations, but then there is that "To Do" file and my computer desk top.  *sigh*

I decided that there is no way to just go through and deal with each and every file and image one by one until the file is empty.  So, I made a To Do file folder for each family Surname.  Then I just dragged and dropped each "wayward" file into the appropriate To Do list.   My plan is that when I next work on that particular surname I will go through their To Do file and deal with those files at that time.  

The result is that I now have a nice clean desktop, and I am not overwhelmed by orphaned documents and images.  We'll see how it works out. 

My #2 goal is toFinish scanning all my paper files and images.  

I am making a small dent in this goal.  I've started by just scanning the documents associated with the particular person/family I am working on at the moment.  This method helps me to stay focused on the particular person/family, and it forces me to review those documents, as I scan and enter them into my genealogy software.

Goal #5:  Use research logs

Okay, okay, I admit it.  I am guilty of ignoring the repeated advice to use research logs, but now my research has reached a point where I no longer can rely on my memory for what I have looked at and what I still need to do. 

Not that I have been completely resistant to the idea.  I've tried to set up research logs a few times, but how to keep them all straight and how to organize the logs has confounded me, with the result of giving up after only a few entries.  

What timing!  Just as I promised to start using research logs, the new issue of Family Tree Magazine (January/February 2013) has a wonderful article "Logging On" by Lisa A. Alzo, which explained how to set up a customized research log as a spreadsheet.  

Taking Lisa's advice, I now have my research log set up, and I really believe that this is going to work for me.  The spreadsheet is flexible enough so that changes or additions to columns can be made as necessary.  I can sort the log by any of my column headings: date, names, repository, etc..., and I can have a different tab for each surname, location, research question.  And, I am taking Lisa's suggestion to keep my research logs in the cloud (Dropbox), so that they will be available no matter where I am and what device I'm using to connect to the Internet.  I'm excited to start putting my new research logs to good us.  

What I've discovered was that I needed to break down my goals into small manageable chunks.

Disclaimer: I am not paid by, nor do I receive any benefits from Dropbox or Family Tree Magazine.

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