Discover your inside story with AncestryDNA®

March 26, 2014

Spring Is Supposedly Here and My Spring Organization Fever is High

Spring Is Supposedly Here and My Spring Organization Fever is High
Supposedly Spring is here. I don't know about you but we have about 3 to 4 feet of snow still on the ground and yesterday we had a blizzard. Mother Nature's being very cruel this year. But the good thing about Spring is that suddenly I'm hit with a burst of energy and a strong desire to ORGANIZE!

Yep, every year I go through this. During the long winters I sit and think about the mess of my genealogy files. Every year I come up with a new way to organize them. Sometimes I go back to old ways, long discarded as not working. I've tried binders by surnames, binders by topics, pdf files on my computer, file folders by surname, file folders by topics... in short I believe I've tried every possible organizational method there is. In fact I've blogged about getting organized many times.

But I'm never happy. These past couple of years I've discovered quite a bit of detail (newspaper clippings, parish and church records, land petitions and so on) for several of my ancestors. I've also scanned many original documents in my possession. That's what made me realize my genealogy is getting out of hand. I'm overwhelmed by the sheer volume of my findings.

Hubs is in the same boat. He doesn't even remember who many of his further back ancestors are or what we know about them. So today we made a decision that starting this week we are going to set aside a minimum of one hour every day to sort, print and organize our genealogy files.

I'm going back to one of my very first methods that I used many years ago - binders. These binders will only be for my direct lines. However I'm not going to print genealogy reports or notes for my ancestors. Instead I plan to print a family group sheet for each of my direct ancestors. then print copies of all the documents I have for the parents on the family group sheet.

I suspect I will end up with many binders - each one holding ancestors sharing one surname for all generations. Ancestors whose data is skimpy will share a binder with other less detailed ancestors.  I'm not going to put all the siblings in these binders. I have them on my genealogy program and in my paper files and in my digital files so that will suffice for now.

For me it's about narrowing my focus, not expanding it! I tend to get carried away and research all siblings of every direct ancestor. Don't get me wrong, that is a very valuable research technique as it provides you with clues and information you may not find if you only research your direct. But I don't need to organize all those siblings into a binder.

So wish us luck! I have no idea how many weeks or months this will take but I'm excited about starting. 


Elyse said...

Perhaps you need a combination of the different techniques.

I keep my stuff limited paper materials in binders and file folders - direct ancestors in the binders and file folders for everything else. I only print when I absolutely need to and only keep correspondence and originals.

My reports change so rapidly and it is so expensive and space-consuming to store all the paper so I don't print them out. Everything is scanned and filed on the computer and then backed up in multiple places on a regular basis.

So perhaps you need a few different methods of containing all the stuff.

Yvonne Demoskoff said...

I enjoy reading your ideas about organization, Lorine. I've put one of those into practice when you wrote about it 2 years ago - creating binders that focus on direct lines with just enough essential info in them to interest family members who find too many details overwhelming.

Dana said...

It sounds like a good plan! We will be moving over the summer & then I plan on spending a lot of time getting organized! I will have an entire room where I can spread out! But, I still need to decide HOW I will organize. I'm working on it!

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Great ideas Elyse. I think you are right, I need to incorporate more than one method.

Thanks for the ideas!


Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Yvonne- very cool that you used the binder method. I'm excited to get back to it!

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Dana, let us know what you decide on. I wish I could find the perfect method for me. But it's fun to redo everything each year, makes me look at my research findings with fresh eyes.

Colleen G. Brown Pasquale said...

Yes, Spring is the time I want to clear things out & organize! I have tried many different systems but good old binders are the best & easiest for retrieving information.

GeneBugGrams said...

The Surname binder system you describe is exactly the way I keep my genealogy organized. I print family group sheets and then put photocopies of all my documents and pictures behind each respective grouop sheet. Originals of every document are in acid free sheet protectors, grouped by surname and stored in my fireproof safe. I used to use a safe deposit box at the bank until their fees became unacceptable. I paid for my safe in two years of bank fees. Of course, all of the documents are also scanned to the computer and backed up in several places. Sometimes it feels like we are drowning in paper, but I love being able to put my hands on any document in a matter of moments. *grin*

Barbara Leffingwell said...

Have you looked at CLOOZ, a digital storage system...very good! Check it out at CLOOZ.COM

Sonia Putney said...

I used binders until I got to 37 binders then it became unmanageable. To find someone I had to go to my genealogy program and then back to the binders. I find I digitize everything noe - Including all those binders which seemed to take forever. NOe I just digitize and attach to my genealogy program. So much easier and save ink and paper and protectors and I can find everything so much easier. I have been researching for over 23 years.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Thanks for all the great ideas everyone! Sonia, that actually was the reason I stopped using binders several years ago.

Now I'm trying them again, but in a very focused and limited way. I'm not trying to keep all my research on every sibling in the binders. We'll see how it goes.

I finally got my hard drive organized and sorted on ONE of my laptops.I still have to sort my older laptop and my main computer (ugh!!) THEN I can start printing items.

I have not tried CLOOZ but will hae a look - thank you for the tip Barbara.

Diane, I've seen your organization up close! You are my inspiration.:-)

Renee Zamora said...

I'm making all my new "binders" in Evernote. I'm trying to get rid of paper and get everything digitized. As I store documents on my hard drive I will pull them into a notebook or note in Evernote to organize them. I love being able to search and find everything I need in one place.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Renee, what a great idea! I use Evernote daily but never thought to pull my docs and photos into a notebook for my genealogy