I’ve been doing the 30 minute daily research challenge for two weeks now. Some days I can barely keep my eyes open long enough to get it done (like when I don’t start until after 10pm) and other days I spend much more than 30 minutes because I get on a track of discovery. Mostly, I try to keep my daily research to 30 minutes.
Along the way, I’ve learned a few things for making the most of my time. Here’s some tips if you also are researching in small increments of time:
Keep notes in a cloud based research log. I use google drive. I can access it from wherever I can access the internet. Sometimes I research from my desk, and sometimes from my laptop. It’s nice to quickly log in to google and see my research logs all together in one place.
Review What You Already Know
When time is of the essence, it’s important not to waste any. So, instead of searching over and over again for records that you haven’t been able to find, read the sources you already have to make sure you haven’t missed any clues. Be sure to view the actual image. Many clues are not on the indexed record.
Record Negative Searches
Stuck on a certain person? After doing a few searches, move on to the next person with a note in your log that you did a few basic searches on them. If you spend your whole time researching that person and come up empty, it may make your 30 minutes feel like a waste. (It wasn’t, of course, because you can note in your research log what you did not find and where you looked). All the same, it’s nice to feel that you actually found something during your short time researching.
Record Possible Next Steps
At the end of your 30 minute session, make a list of 2 or 3 possible “next steps” so you know where to start next time. It’s easier to stop after 30 minutes if you write down all your great ideas for further research.
This is what I’ve learned from working on my first goal to locate records about my Welch and Keaton ancestors. Now I’m working more on gathering stories and memories by contacting DNA matches and other relatives. It’s interesting that out of 6 people I’ve contacted so far, 2 of them have been adopted. It seems that many people use the Ancestry DNA as a means to connect with their biological families. I’ll have to branch out and contact cousins who aren’t in my DNA results to find stories and memories!