Are you keeping your genealogy systems updated and functional? You might have spent a considerable amount of time organizing your records and prioritizing projects, but then you took a research trip, attended a conference, or watched a webinar, and now have a stack of papers and a flash drive full of digital records. If you’re feeling weighed down again, the step you might be missing is reflection. Regularly capturing the new items that have risen to the surface, reviewing your calendar and project lists, and processing new materials can keep your mind free to do its best work.
This is part four of a five-part series based on David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done: the art of stress free productivity. Here is a quick recap:
Family History and Getting Things Done : Introduction to the book and method and step one – capturing. The first task is to capture all the family history and genealogy stuff that is on your mind. This could be research projects, interviews, education, etc. Write every thought down on paper or capture it digitally.
Family History & Getting Things Done Part 2: Clarify : Once all of your projects are captured, the next step is to clarify. This entails prioritizing your projects then brainstorming ideas for the top project and making a plan to get it done! Identifying the next action for each project is key to making progress.
Family History & Getting Things Done Part 3: Organization : Until you’ve brought order to your papers and processes you won’t make any progress. Creating a physical and digital filing system for your genealogy documents is essential.
Once you have done these first three steps of capturing, clarifying, and organization, you’ve cleared your mind of clutter and can focus on the task at hand. The only problem is that life moves on and as soon as new stuff appears in your life, you have to get current occasionally or your mind will be become cluttered again and unable to function at top capacity. How do we do this?
David Allen suggests doing a weekly review to keep on top of things. The weekly review is a key part of the Getting Things Done methodology. I like to do this on a Friday afternoon at the end of the work week. It doesn’t matter what day it happens, just that it does happen. What do you do as part of the weekly review? Allen suggests the following ideas.
Here are some typical things that I need to do weekly.
-File accumulated papers of the week.
-Clear out the downloads folder on my computer.
-Process research trip materials.
-Add conference syllabi or webinar handouts to my systems.
-Review my project lists and add any new projects.
-Process any emails still remaining in my inbox.
Review calendar items for the next few weeks and project lists. Can any items from the project lists be added to your calendar? Check email “waiting for”and “action folders” for items that might have been missed during the week.
I have a full schedule of client work, presentations to propose, create, and give, podcasting, writing, and more. I prefer to stay ahead of the game and not be hurrying to meet a deadline (although that does happen!). Reviewing my calendar for a few weeks in advance makes sure I’m not panicking when a conference proposal is due the next day and I haven’t started.
You may not have realized that your family reunion is coming up in a few weeks and you need to get started with your plans. Is a research trip approaching and you haven’t yet begun your research plan? Looking ahead can relieve stress and make sure you’re functioning at your highest level.
With your basic review completed and a clear picture of what needs to be done, you can look at your someday-maybe lists and add projects as you’re inspired. You might have attended a DNA class and determined that you need to start getting your match list organized. That might have been on your someday-maybe project list, but now you have the tools to actually do it. Add it to your projects list, determine a next action, add that to your tasks list and watch the magic happen as you begin a new journey.
As you feel more in control of your family history and genealogy work your brain will be free to brainstorm ideas for projects that have long been on the back-burner.
Big Picture Review
Finally, take a step back and consider if you’re meeting your key goals and objectives in family history and genealogy. If you want to become Accredited, have you made a plan and committed to it, or are you continually “considering” it? Think of where you’d like to be in the next five years with your family history goals, then find a way to get there.
These may seem like simple ideas, but there is great power in simple. When our minds are clear of every small detail, we can make progress.
Best of luck in all your genealogical endeavors!