December 30, 2011
I'm a Genealogical Hunter and Gatherer Not a Data Enterer
Continuing on from my New Year's Genealogy Resolution for 2012... I've been doing a great deal of thinking about my genealogy organization and record keeping. Basically it's about using my strengths and ignoring or working around my weaknesses!
Strengths vs Weaknesses
What are my strengths? I'm a very thorough and focused researcher. I'm good at finding information then taking taking that newly-found fact, analyzing it and figuring out what it means in the overall picture, and where to look for the next clue or fact.
What are my weaknesses? I'm not good at data entry. I get bored and distracted easily.
The Laws of Genealogy?
Okay is that the worst sin for a genealogist? Who says I have to enter my data into a genealogy program? Or, if I choose to enter it to keep relationships straight, where is it written that I have to enter it immediately or in excruciating detail?
It has finally occurred to me that it's okay to record my genealogy research in whatever method best suits me. It's important to me that I cite my sources precisely and accurately and that I know where every single piece of information came from. But there's no genealogy law stating I have to type out every word from every birth registration or census record or death certificate.
And so it's okay to print off or photocopy all the records I find, note the source (in detail!) neatly on the paper, then file it using whatever filing system best suits me.
Using Pointers in Genealogy Program Notes Section
I like to record the names of individuals in my genealogy program so in the Notes section for that person, all I need do is type a notation such as "Birth Registration copy in File Folder A" where "A" is the name I've given that file folder (or binder) I can also point to digital copies of the noted record.
What a liberating moment! I've given myself permission to enter details as and if I wish. Yes I will continue to carefully note sources but I no longer feel compelled to record every word in each record twice - once on paper and once in my genealogy program.
I've made my decision. I'll use my genealogy program to give a one line summary of the record I found, and a pointer to where the copy of that record is in my digital or paper filing system. I may give a brief synopsis of the new fact but if I don't think it's necessary, I won't bother as the paper record is there at my fingertips for reference.
Establishing Daily or Weekly Time Periods
I'm also going to start setting certain days or half-days each week for specific projects. This will work within my habit of jumping from Project to Project. But with the added structure of an established weekly time period I am much more apt to complete each project in turn.
For example I'm working on a book on involving children in genealogy so I'm going to structure one day a week for that.
For my project to create video tutorials on dating old photographs which I'm creating for the Olive Tree Genealogy channel on YouTube I'm setting aside one day a week until the set of videos is completed.
A half-day per week will be allotted for organizing my digital files. That's a job that badly needs doing but I keep putting it off, or I make a half-hearted stab at it but never really stick to it. But I know myself well enough to know that if I make it a bit easier on myself, I can do it.
It's much easier to stick with a task if I say "I am going to spend one hour cleaning the bathrooms today" then if I look at the bathrooms and think "Wow these need cleaning but it's going to take me several hours to do a good job" By the way we have four bathrooms in our house so it can be a pretty big job.
I find that if I tell myself I only need to spend ONE hour at a task, I often go beyond that time once I get into it. This also works great for non-genealogical and boring tasks such as exercising.
2012 - bring it! I'm ready for you.