Task Management Notebook

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.

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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.

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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 2 Surname Studies: Williamson in Monroe County New York & Colebach / Colepaugh--a worldwide study & A One-Place Study of Nye County Nevada Boomtowns

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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

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