I have a confession. I am a To Do List junkie but a Task Management failure. Have been since… Well, as long as I can remember. I make the lists and then fail to do them. I won’t bore you with the details of how well I can organize but how miserably I fail at staying organized. Nor with the details of my forays into schedule-making—schedules that look so wonderfully doable on paper—but that I fail to implement for more than a week. Part of the problem is that I was trying to work with someone else’s perfect plan. Perfect for them, not so much for me. (Slob Sisters, anyone? FlyLady? Yes, BTDT and more. I even tried to implement one task management plan for homeschooling moms that had you scheduling every day of the week in half-hour increments. Bahahaha. Not sure why I thought THAT was going to work. Not unless I had a nanny and a chauffeur for my kids.)

task1

But, you know, I keep trying and I have learned a thing or two during all my failed attempts at staying on task and being organized. Namely, why I fail at them. Why do I fail? Because I am a bit of a non-conformist, slightly rebellious and a procrastinator. Oh, and I rarely feel guilty about chasing down bright shiny objects [BSO] that come into view or new ideas (mostly for quilts) that pop into my head that I immediately set off to do—which I suppose is the quilting equivalent to a genealogy BSO. There it is. The plain truth.

Trying to implement somebody else’s grand plan is bound to be a problem for me. I need my own plan and I need some form of self-motivation—some reason—to keep me on task. (If I were more Type A, none of this would be a problem. My mother is Type A. I’ve often thought I should hire her to be my task master. But I think it might kill me, or at least suck all the joy out of my life…) One last thing I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter how long it takes me to get through the list as long as I work at getting though it. I can do things at my own pace with no worries. (I learned that one from trying to implement that crazy schedule-your-life-in-half-hour-time-slots-so-you-can-appear-to-be-the-perfect-homeschooling-mom-of-many organizational system.)

So what’s all this about Task Management doing on a family history blog? Welp, the funny thing about research is that it’s a whole heck of a lot easier with a plan. A clear goal. And a To Do List on how best to reach that goal. Another thing about family history research is that it helps immensely if you stay organized. So you’re not scratching your head later, thinking “Now just where did I find that tidbit of info?” or “Where did I put that death certificate for Grandpa Joe?” Add to that some motivation to stay on task when a bright shiny object comes into view and you can see where some form of task management is needed if I want to do this thing properly. And maybe a few forms. Like a To Do List and a Research Log. And, (what the heck?) it’s a topic in Week 4 of the Genealogy Do-Over! Oh, dear.

task2

It appears it is time, once again, to do something about my propensity to spend my days chasing BSOs in one form or another. Okie doke. I can do this. (I’ve done it before. Numerous times. LOL) So I dragged out a saved copy of this article on the Get Things Done system, finished reading this book on my Kindle and watched Thomas MacEntee’s Project Management webinar. And then I kinda mashed them all up and came up with my own Task Management System in OneNote. (You knew I was going to work it all out in OneNote, right?) It also helped that I had already started my long, long Master List for Getting Things Done back last summer.

task3

Another fail: See where it says Top Ten? It’s supposed to be a chart with the top ten things I want / need to get done. I have FIFTEEN things on my chart. [sigh] For the most part, my new plan is working though. Don’t get me wrong—I still chase down bright shiny objects in my research, or sit with my Kindle and finish off a book in a day, or waste time planning a new quilt that will probably never come to fruition—but I can easily get back on task because I can see what I SHOULD be doing and the steps to getting it done are laid out there for me in my Projects Section. And I can look at my list of completed tasks there in my Top Ten Section and see everything I have gotten done since I started keeping track last month. That makes me smile.

By the way, this is my motivation for staying on task for the Genealogy Do-Over: If I’m going to do family history research, I ought to make an effort to do it properly and also make an effort to leave something that others can easily follow. Something that will show them how I came to my conclusions. Something with a strong foundation for them to build on.

Now moving on to that urgent item [highlighted in red] on my Top Ten List… Oh, and be thankful I spared you the details to all the ‘reminder-type’ and ‘get-things-done’ apps for my phone that I’ve checked into. And then checked out of.

===

________________________________________________________________________________________

Cite This Page:

Erin Williamson Klein, “Task Management?.” My Family History Files, 24 February 2015 (http://myfamilyhistoryfiles.com/organization/task-management/ : [access date]).

Please do not copy without attribution and link back to this page.

________________________________________________________________________________________

I have progressed beyond Week 2 of the Genealogy Do-Over. Well, actually I haven’t progressed much beyond Week 2. I seem to be working on parts of Weeks 3-5 all at once. I got stalled on the Research Log (said in that whiney, dramatic way a child would) which is kinda crucial to moving on. I haven’t posted about what I did for the Week 2 Topics so this is a recap of what I have accomplished for the Genealogy Do-Over Weeks 2 through 5.

Topics for Week Two were:

  • Setting Research Goals – DONE
  • Conducting Self Interview – DONE
  • Conducting Family Interviews – not doing right now

My research goals have been to start a new proofed tree with proper source citations starting with my paternal line. I am going back through the direct line and will come down the line chasing after the collateral lines. As I do this, I want to organize everything in OneNote, citing sources, using a Research Log with a To-Do List. Establish some good genealogy habits.

I don’t plan to conduct any family interviews as (sadly) there isn’t anyone left to interview. I may try to contact my first cousins or their families from my uncle’s line at some point in the future. My uncle told me at one time that one of his grandchildren was interested in family history.

update1

For self interview I did a MS Word timeline. (I deleted the year of the events so I can still lie about my age.) My timeline gave me a to-do list of things to prove which had me hunting down documents to scan for future use in the Do-Over process.

===

Week 3 Topics

Week 4 Topics

Week 5 Topics

  • Tracking Research
  • Conducting Research
  • Managing Projects and Tasks – DONE
  • Tracking Searches
  • Building a Research Toolbox – DONE
  • Citing Sources

The task management system came together better than I thought. Posting about that next. (Don’t you hate those teasers?) Really, though, I wrote that post before this one and it’s scheduled to post tomorrow.

Building a research toolbox / toolkit is something I had already been doing in OneNote. I took the time to rearrange the sections in my main Genealogy Notebook to organize it a bit more and added some of the resources that have been mentioned through the Genealogy Do-Over.

===

These are the things I am still working on:

update2

 

The three things that have me stalled are interrelated. I am trying to round up and coral my thoughts and ideas on how best to accomplish keeping a research log with recorded searches and something that will make source citation easier all rolled into one. I have gotten better in the last year in keeping track of information for source citation, but tracking research and searches I have not been doing. I need to.

Thomas MacEntee has generously shared his Excel Research Log with Do-Over participants and there have been others who have uploaded their modified versions on the Facebook group. I’m not afraid of tables nor using Excel, but none of them were really clicking for me. No thoughts of “Oh, I could do this to modify it for my use”. Not even a glimmer of a thought. Which kinda meant I had to invent my own forms. And I really want to keep it all in OneNote. So I have been pondering. And pondering. And then avoiding. I finally decided I needed to get this done—this week—if I want to move on with the Do-Over.

Funny how when you DECIDE something should be DONE, inspiration will strike. I like deadlines because inspiration usually strikes right before I have to get something done. (It has to, because I have usually procrastinated right up until the deadline. LOL) But self-imposed tasks−like those in the Do-Over where no one is going to care if I do them−they can languish until I DECIDE they should be done or abandon them completely.

Two nights ago inspiration finally struck! The problem with those other research logs was that they didn’t leave the trail of breadcrumbs I want someone else to easily see and follow. There was nothing wrong with them, it was just me and my process that didn’t fit their mold. So then it was time to turn it around. How would a research log work in my process to leave a trail of easy-to-see-and-follow breadcrumbs? And that’s where I am at. Working on that form.

===

________________________________________________________________________________________

Cite This Page:

Erin Williamson Klein, “Genealogy Do-Over update.” My Family History Files, 23 February 2015 (http://myfamilyhistoryfiles.com/organization/genealogy-do-over-update/ : [access date]).

Please do not copy without attribution and link back to this page.

________________________________________________________________________________________

I have been busy behind the scenes working on updating my old OneNote posts, putting together some new posts and working through the Genealogy Do-Over Topics. The Research Log dilemma has me in a holding pattern where I am currently stuck in the topics for Weeks 3-5. Anne Faulkner’s (Ancestor Archaeology) Do-Over recap post had me laughing and nodding my head in complete agreement.

When my mind gets muddled overthinking things pondering life’s tough questions how I want my family history research to come together, I tend to avoid the problem give my mind a rest by pursuing some time-wasting endeavor on the computer. Just to clear my head, you know? (If you read between the lines, you might come to the conclusion that I am a procrastinator…) In my research-log-decision-making-avoidance mode, I started a new quilt design for a quilt that has a pedigree chart on it with an appliqued tree and leaves. Copying and pasting all those leaves onto my quilt design and then coloring each one with a different green fabric? Complete time-waster…

predigree-quilt (I know it doesn’t look like much here, but I haven’t finished the whole tree applique. Just imagine your ancestors names in the beige rectangles and photos in the beige diamonds and something like this starting at the bottom left and going out and up around the chart with leaves. Lots of leaves. But not so much detail on the trunk…)

===

I thought perhaps I should do something more productive today. Move a few things off my Task Manager To Do’s. (Like get that research log decision made and just jump into working with whatever I come up with!! Use it now, tweak it later?)

There have been a couple of questions about organizing Section tabs and Pages for each person so I thought I should address how that has evolved as I have been working in my Williamson Surname Notebook. Basically, I have changed the Section Group setup by adding a third group.

Originally I had only two Section Groups created to hold Sections for individuals in my family tree. One for the direct surname line and another for non-direct names organized alphabetically. As I started adding more and more Sections to my notebook for each person, it became apparent that this setup wasn’t going to work for me in the long-term so I reorganized the groups. For now I have three Section Groups. Section Groups alphabetize themselves and I wanted my Section Groups in a certain order so I added numbers to their names.

surname1

===

One important thing to note and something I have to keep reminding myself is I want my OneNote Notebook to be a digital duplicate of how I had my physical binders set up. My original binders were set up in family groups with their records grouped together behind a printed family group record. Once a person got married or remarried, a new family group record was created and the related family documents grouped behind it. (By the way, if you are using OneNote to share your research or to create a digital backup up of the physical notebooks you already have, for convenience and ease of setup, create and layout your OneNote Notebooks just as you did your physical notebooks!)

So rather than think that each Section tab was for an individual person, it should be that they are for a family group. (Banging my head against the desk and saying, “Duh.”) I haven’t yet decided if I am going to keep the naming convention I originally set up [male name only] or rename the Sections to include the wife/mother’s name. If I switch to adding the wife/mother’s name to the Section tab name, I was thinking I would have to add a new Section for subsequent marriages. That hasn’t been an issue for my direct-line ancestors; but as I get more into the collateral lines, I will have to give this a hard think.

This is the Direct Line Section Group for my Williamson Surname Notebook. In each Section are Pages for people in the family group.

surname2

===

I am working on getting things in order on my direct line to start, however, I have some records for my collateral Williamson lines. As I was adding them to the original Non-Direct A-Z Section Group, it was getting a bit overcrowded in the W-X Section. I decided they all needed their own Section Group. This newly created second Section Group is for your collateral lines of the same surname. By the way, the Sub-Section Group ‘Who Married Whom’ is for a research rabbit hole. Two Williamson men married two Williamson women in a double wedding ceremony. The marriage index doesn’t list parents’ names for any of the four. I was trying to figure out which ones I was related to (all four names match people in my tree) and the resulting avalanche of records I gathered needed its own Section Group. (I’ll tell you about the rabbit hole another day…)

surname3

 

 ===

The last Section Group is for lines that have ‘married into’ my surname. Obviously that includes some new direct line surnames as well as husbands to Williamson females. For the surname for my great grandmother, great-great grandmother and on, I have created separate Sections in the front of the A-Z tabs for them. Instead of a separate Section, each family group gets a Page with Sub-Pages. If the Section gets too cumbersome to navigate (too many pages of family groups), they can be moved into their own Section Group or even their own Notebook if needed. Right now, that isn’t been a problem and I’ll think on it when I have to.

surname4
I hope that helps you understand a little bit better how I have been organizing my family groups in my Surname Notebook.

===

Part 1 – Quirks of My Notebooks – The Main Sections

Part 3 – Quirks Continued – Pages for Family Groups

Surname Notebook – Sources sorted by Record Type

View on OneDrive

Surname Notebook – Sources sorted in Chronological Oder

View on OneDrive

Notebook Sections for Task Management

View on OneDrive

Downloadable Version for OneNote 2013

Downloadable Version for OneNote 2013

Downloadable Version for OneNote 2013

Surname Notebook by Record Type PDF

Surname Notebook in Chronological Order PDF

Task Management Sections PDF

===

________________________________________________________________________________________

Cite This Page:

Erin Williamson Klein, “Part 2 – More Quirks – Section Groups & Sections.” My Family History Files, 20 February 2015 (http://myfamilyhistoryfiles.com/research-plan/surname-section-groups-and-sections/ : [access date]).

Please do not copy without attribution and link back to this page.

________________________________________________________________________________________

Translate

A bit about me


Erin Williamson Klein
New York > Nevada
Started my research in 1993

Aside from my own family history research, I also have The Williamsons in Rochester, New York: A One-Name, One-Place, One-Period-in-Time Study & Belmont, Nevada: A One Place Study

Subscribe to my blog and receive new posts by email.

Following the GPS!

Sourced Database Statistics:
230 people in Williamson branch
15 direct ancestors
72 families total
[number] people properly sourced
[number] remaining to be sourced
[percent] completed

Participating In

Genealogy Do-Over

November 2014 NaNoWriMo Winner Badge
Goal: 50,000 words in 30 days
Wrote: 61,675 in 30 days

July 2014 Camp NaNoWriMo Winner Badge
Goal: 50,000 words in 31 days
Wrote: 50,233 in 31 days

This explains my absence during July and November.