Saturday, June 18, 2011

Genealogy Time Management–Focus

time4[4]I said that I would be trying out the concepts of the article by Patricia Law Hatcher that I mentioned in my post Genealogy Time Management. However, before I can really get into her concepts I decided that for this to work for me then I must define some of her key concepts for the plan. The first will be focus.

We have all experienced the lack of focus in our research. In today’s age of computer and internet research it is too easy to get distracted and then all of a sudden you are looking at records of ancestors that in no way connect to what you originally set out to find.

What I propose to do in order to get focused is first establish some goals and objectives for my research. My goals will be something that I want to conquer within the next six months to a year. Monthly, I will establish some objectives to complete that will bring me closer to those goals. Establishing these objectives will pinpoint specific things I must know or find in order to meet that goal. They will give me just one thing to concentrate on during a research session.

Now that I will have goals for the year and objectives for the upcoming month I can actually get down to doing some research. But finding the time for this is much easier said than done as I’m sure most family historians will attest to. However, as Ms. Hatcher suggests in her article, I will schedule this time each week and if something comes up that interferes then I will reschedule my research time immediately.

We have kids so our house isn’t the most optimum place to have the peace and quiet needed to actually get some good research done. So me and the wife are going to have to work together in order to schedule our time. I can take the kids out to the park on Sunday afternoon while she stays home and dives into her research. She can do the same thing for me. Or maybe we both get the kids ready for bed and tucked in and then take an hour or two at night to conduct some research. It can work if we just work together and make a commitment to it.

The final thing I want to discuss is my plan for dealing with the inevitable distracting record or article that will grasp my attention. I do not want to ignore a possible find so I need to do something with it right when I see it. So, I will always keep a separate pad of paper or my todo list handy during research. When I come across that possible record that is not what I am looking for I can make a quick note of what it is, what it may tell me, and where to find it again. That should take all but 2 minutes to complete and is now a todo for a future session. If I capture the possible find information in this way then it should clear my mind so I can press ahead with my original search.

To recap, here is a summary of the concepts I must master to get focused:

  1. Establish my goals and objectives
  2. Concentrate on one objective for each research session
  3. Schedule the session on my calendar
  4. Deal with distractions immediately by adding to my todo list

If I can do what I just talked about then I can maintain the focus I need in order to make great use of the limited time I have to devote to my family history research each week.

I am curious how others with limited time each week maintains their focus so please leave a comment with your ideas.

Thanks for listening and keep diggin’ for that family.


1 comment:

  1. One thing that helps me (particularly with sparkly internet stuff) is that I have set up a folder in my bookmarks "for further research" and in that folder, I have folders for my main surnames and one general folder. When I come across something I want to look at further, but it's not related to what I'm currently researching, I click on the "bookmark" button and save it in one of those folders, making sure to name it appropriately so I will know why I saved it in the first place.

    It literally takes less than a minute to do.

    Then, when I get some free time, or when I shift gears in my research, I can just open those folders and look at those pages I have saved. I can go directly to the ones I need because I (hopefully) have named them appropriately.