December 29, 2011

2012 New Year's Genealogy Resolutions

Every year I set my genealogy resolutions. Jan. 2011 Resolutions consisted of one goal - seemingly a simple goal. That goal was to stay focused on one genealogy project at a time.

I didn't meet it. In fact I didn't even come close. I tried. Believe me I tried. But if there's one thing  I learned from this "failure" it's that I am an impulsive genealogist.

Getting Side-Tracked 

I get side-tracked easily. Repetition bores me, so a project that begins as a fun genealogy project quickly becomes a tedious task for me.  I love the challenge of the hunt! I grit my teeth when I reach hour 3 or 4 of entering the information that I found in my research.

I can happily spend 10 hours researching and not notice the passage of time. But show me the results of my 10 hours of research and tell me it's time to enter all that data, and the moaning and groaning and whining begins.

So much tedious time-consuming W O R K when I  could be having F U N doing more research, finding out more about these new ancestors!

A Typical Example

Let's look at a few examples - I started a project to look through Poor Law Union correspondence and extract the names of poor people being sent from England to Canada in the mid 1800s. Then I did some research in census records to find more information on these individuals. It was so much fun. What wasn't fun was organizing it and creating the webpages to put it all online! I did finally finish it but only through sheer will power and a lot of stern scolding from myself to myself.

While working on the Poor Law Union records, I began concentrating on putting all my old cemetery photos into videos for Olive Tree Genealogy YouTube Channel. I love doing that. But that's my problem - creating Cemetery Walks became my "break" from the Poor Law Union records.

Poor Law Union boring me today?  - no problem, set it aside and work on the Cemetery Walk videos. Oh, that's boring me now because I am trying to find all the photos from 3 years ago? Okay take a break from that boredom and scan my family photos. Oops, two months has gone by and I haven't gotten back to the Poor Law Union records - ack!

You see my conundrum.  I jump from task to task. When task A becomes boring to me I'm off to Task B. Then C and D and....  on and on it goes! And so I end up with anywhere from 10 to a dozen genealogy projects on the go all at the same time.

Genealogy Strengths vs  Weaknesses

I've fought this all my life.  But I've finally learned something very important! I need to work WITH my strengths, not against them!  Instead of trying to become what I'm not, I need to focus on what I am.  That way I can improve in my strength areas instead of fighting my own nature all the time.

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. I also work well with a deadline.

What are my weaknesses? I'm not good at data entry. Repititous tasks bore me. I skip over tasks I find boring, setting them aside for "later". But "later" doesn't always come!

2012 Genealogy Resolutions

My 2012 New Year's Resolutions are:

1. Focus on my genealogical strengths (researching and fact-finding) and continue to build and improve on those

2. Improve on my organization of genealogical records, but not worry or stress over not entering it all in minute detail in my genealogy program

3. Set deadlines. Make one day per week the day I work on Project A and a second day of the week the day to work on Project B. No more worrying if I jump from project to project! Allow myself to jump around as much as I want but work towards deadlines for completion of Projects A, B, C etc.  I need variety but I also need the deadline to provide structure and a timeline for completion of my multitude of genealogy projects

And so I've not only come up with what I believe are more realistic 2012 Genealogy Resolutions, I've also come up with a new method of organization of my genealogy. I'll write about that next week so please do come back, read my idea and jump in with your own ideas, suggestions and thoughts!

17 comments:

Jenny Jones said...

Hi Lorine,

Well, you have perfectly stated what I planned to do as well! Thank you! Hopefully this will keep you and me and folks like us interested but also on track!

Happy New Year and Happy Hunting!

Susan said...

It's easy to get side-tracked with so much information coming in. I've got a ton of different tasks going on in my research. I was just thinking last night about how to get organized during the coming year, so I'm going to take time to create a task list and prioritize my goals for 2012.

I also want to say Thank You for sharing so much helpful information here, I visit often!

Celia said...

Lorine, you're one of my faves because of your skills in both doing and explaining what you're doing and why. So helpful! And your techy skills have encouraged me to stretch myself too. As for the inputting of your data... maybe you could delegate that to someone? even maybe pay them? or barter? Dig & Delve in 2012!

Carol said...

Archhh, I could have written the first part, about not being able to stay focused on a long project!

I like your ideas, focus, but, don't beat myself up over my weak points.

Will be reading your organization ideas, goodness only knows I could use the help! LOL

Deborah Andrew said...

Lorine,

Oh my gosh! We could be personality twins...I do the same thing. Research, research, analyze, analyze, data entry....sparkles! & more research.

I have tried the deadline strategy but the problem, with me, is that there is no "punishment" if I don't meet the deadline. Unlike in my "real" job where if a deadline is not met, I have to face someone and say I'll get that in tomorrow.

If I could make a consequence for myself, I think the deadlines would work better for me.

Anyway, I might have to try the different days have different projects trick and see if that helps.

Great post!

Denise Coughlin said...

Glad to see I'm not the only who gets side tracked :) It's so easy to get diverted from one task and start another then try to remember how you got there!!

Happy New Year & Keep Up the Great Work!!

Jill Ball said...

Just remember, Lorine, that variety is the spice of life.

Seems ass though there are a few of us in genie land who love jumping from branch to branch or tree to tree.

Stephanie said...

I love this post because I am very much the same! My daughter calls it Ooh Shiny Syndrome. I definitely suffer from it! Thanks for giving us a peek at your habits and a reminder that strengths need to be recognized and weaknesses can be changed. :)

Terri said...

I definitely love the research part and can spend many hours doing so. Updating my database, well thats not as fun. I cannot even say that I do it and complain, sometimes I update, sometimes I don't and have to go back later.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Celia, your idea of hiring someone to input my data is a good one but it won't work for me. I'm not a good delegator!

I'm such a perfectionist that I'd not be able to step back and let the other person be. I'd be a terrrible micro-manager I think!

Great idea though if I could change my personality and learn to step back

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Susan, I like your idea of creating a task list for 2012.

I think one of my problems is that with so many projects on the go at one time and so many ideas floating around in my head, I get lost.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Deborah - I used to have the same problem with self-imposed deadlines. No consequence if not met!

But I figured out a way to have a consequence that really helped me meet those deadlines.

Go public. By that I mean - announce in public, on a blog, to your friends and family (the more people you tell, the better). Share your deadline and what your task is.

For me that worked because I couldn't face the humiliation of admitting I failed! I also like to tell my friends and family so they can bug and remind me and encourage me as the deadline approaches.

I often set deadlines for the books I write as they tend to drag on too long if I don't. I keep revising them otherwise or I get stuck on one onerous task such as indexing.

So I have a couple of methods to work around no consequence for the self-imposed deadline. I announce publicly that the book will be ready for sale on such and such a date. I would hate to let others down so I work to meet that date!

But I've used the "go public" method for small tasks too. It works for me but might not work for everyone

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Stephanie your comment left me chuckling!

My husband is easily distracted - I can be talking to him, outlining what needs doing on our websites and I'll see him look past me or start texting on his iPhone.

When I stop and ask if he's listening, he jokes "oooohhh shiny thing!" and picks up the nearest object to study. I guess you have to be there to see how funny this is but it gets me laughing every time.

M. Diane Rogers said...

Ah, Lorine, you made me feel so much better - knowing that other genealogists have this 'problem'. And I really like that you are focusing on your strengths.
I always have a number of projects on the go, some personal, some for future publication, etc. Usually I am good with deadlines, so the personal ones are most often the projects left hanging.
A couple of years ago, I scheduled myself one 'genealogy anti-procrastination evening' a month to work on a project I wanted finished. I left home, taking my papers, etc., went to the BCGS genealogical library (where better!), made a pot of coffee, and got to work. I even invited others to come and do the same so we could encourage each other.
I've continued to schedule time for 'tidying up' projects which so often is the boring job of data entry or doublechecking transcriptions. This has worked well for me, but since I'm doing research as often as I can, there will always be more to do.
Good luck with your resolutions in 2012, everyone.

Ruth Stewart said...

I'm so glad to know that I am not the only one who loves the chase but not the work afterwards. I resolve to record and organize my reasearch this year on a weekly basis. Hopefully I'll catch up before I make my resolutions for 2013! Thanks for the insight and good luck on your resolutions.

Diane said...

My resolution is to "tidy up " ( and fis up what went missing when I changed computers.)
I'm glad I'm not the only one addicted to the search.

Diane

Patty said...

Lorine: Loved your post about starting the New Year right by setting genealogy goals based on personal strengths and weaknesses. This made me re-evaluate mine. I realize that if I don't move immediately on new information, I'll likely lose it in the mist. Ex: I receive a "success!" message from findagrave.com. via email or a death certificate I've ordered arrives in the mail. No matter what project I'm working on I just bookmark it and change priorities to plug in the new info. This seems to work for me. I think it's great you are "thorough and focused." I've added this to my list of goals for 2012. Thanks so much and Happy New Year!