9 Steps to Finding More Time For Your Genealogy. I was talking to a fellow genealogist recently and she was lamenting how she didn’t seem to ever get the time to do what she wanted. And what she wanted to do was her genealogy. She wanted to visit her elderly relatives before it was too late, but her kids wanted to go to the beach. She wanted to install and get acquainted with her new genealogy software, but her house needed cleaning. She wanted to actually search the new genealogy records I talked about in my Friday blog post, but her husband had been complaining that he never saw her these days as she was always busy doing “stuff”. Genealogy was always at the bottom of her very long list of things to do and when she did work on her family history she felt guilty because she felt she should be doing something more important.
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Well, let’s look at the whole issue of how important family history is and how to find the time to relax and do some research. install the software that’s sat in the box for months, scan those old photos and talk to elderly relatives. Now you might be thinking that as I have the luxury of having my children grown up, of living in a 17th century cottage that is so teeny, tiny that it was the founder of the Tiny House Movement (if you don’t know what that is click here!) and of working as a genealogy blogger so surrounded by the subject all day that I can’t possibly know what it is like not having the time to do some genealogy. If you thought that you would be so wrong!
It’s true that my house doesn’t need a lot of time spent to keep it clean and tidy, it’s true that my children have left home, it’s true I work in the genealogy industry. But it is also true that running MadAboutGenealogy takes 40+ hours a week, my dog keeps me fit by demanding a minimum of two hours a day exercise, all the household chores and maintenance is down to me and I have family commitments. In fact I am just like you!
9 Steps to Finding More Time For Your Genealogy
Having outlined the problems here are my suggestions for clawing back some precious time so that you can do what you love. Lets find you the time to trace and record your family history and perhaps as important let’s encourage others to understand that being the family history curator is important. Let’s look at what I call time sinks, you know those big black holes where time disappears into and never ever comes out!
Statistics show that the average American adult spends 24 hours a week watching tv. That’s a whole day a week and seriously there isn’t that much good tv to watch is there?! I appreciate that watching tv might be the only time you and your partner get to spend time together, but you might suggest that one evening a week you get some quiet time to do some genealogy without feeling guilty. You could suggest that they use that evening to watch all those programs that you just hate!
2. Stolen Time
Make the best use of your Smart phone and tablet to steal 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there. Ancestry, FindMyPast, FamilySearch etc all have apps you can download and use in those moments while waiting for dinner to cook, eating your lunch whilst at work, waiting for the kids to arrive on the school bus. You’ll be surprised how many minutes you can steal in a day once you start to take notice of the opportunities.
3. One Ancestor
Work on one ancestor at a time, get to know that person really well so that you know exactly what needs to be searched, what is missing and what their story is. With the internet it is very easy to dive from one online genealogy rabbit-hole to another chasing a large number of ancestors. Slow down genealogy isn’t race to see how many ancestors you can cram onto your family tree in the shortest possible time, it is a measured journey through time. Aim to create a quality family history not a quantity genealogy.
4. Keep A Genealogy Bullet Journal
Use a digital or paper bullet journal to keep track of your research of your one ancestor that you are currently research. I find these so much better than a notebook and have decided that I shall kept them as a written record of my genealogy journey. I am a great fan of the internet and all things digital, but recently I am beginning to want to have something in my handwriting to hand onto my descendants. Just think how thrilled we would be if we had a journal or diary from our ancestors, well I am making sure that my descendants will have a bit of me. I shall be writing about genealogy journaling very soon.
There is a Dot Grid Printable in the MadAboutGenealogy Resource Library if you want to have a try – CLICK HERE to access the Resource Library.
I bought this Dot Grid Journal through Amazon – only $7.24, but I think for longevity I shall upgrade to this Moleskine version (I’m a fan of Moleskine notebooks). More expensive, but it’s got to last a few generations at least !
5. Make A List
Having chosen who you are going to focus on start by making a list of all the records that you want to search for information. Print off one of the Family History Check List sheets from the MadAboutGenealogy Resource Library and glue it into your journal, add other records that aren’t on the list. This will help stop you wandering off on the internet byways and finding yourself research a totally different ancestor!
6. Keep Your Genealogy Organized
If your genealogy is a mess you are going to spend precious time searching for this certificate, that photograph, those printouts. Spend time getting everything neat and tidy at the beginning and keep it that way. Invest in some pretty storage boxes if you are female (guys, I know you don’t understand the need for pretty things if you are female, but believe me it’s important!) if you are male then something more masculine will appeal. Amazon has a wide range – follow the links for a few of my suggestions to get you started – personally I always opt for anything floral!
7. Involve The Family
Involving the family if you can in your results, without boring those who just aren’t interested, is always a good idea. CLICK HERE to read my post on children and genealogy. This is important when you have elderly relatives, you may not be able to physically visit them because of time or distance, but sending them copies of your journal pages along with a chart showing how that person fits into the family tree is an option. Plus using Facetime or similar to see and talk with people about your genealogy is ideal. Make the contact as you never know what information you may find.
8. Find Some Genealogy Friends
If you have friends who are also genealogists, and you should have because we are a friendly bunch, you could organise a genealogy work day. If you have children ask other family members to look after them for the day, clear the dining room table, get each person to bring along a shared lunch, make sure that you know the connection details of your internet and then get ready to have a day’s research at your very own genealogy research center. My friends and I have done this and it is a blast. We work away on our research, share expertise, suggest records that might bust down a brick wall and cheer when someone finds something they have been looking for for years. Because you are inviting other to participate you’ll find you will organize life and make time so you don’t let others down by canceling at the last moment. Try it you’ll have so much fun.
9. Take Your Family History Seriously
I can guarantee that if if you don’t value the recording of your family history then no one else will. If I had a dollar for every time I have been told that some precious records or photographs, have been lost or destroyed I would be a very wealthy woman. This is important work, if no one in a family takes responsibility for being the curator of the family history, and let’s all their relatives know that they are, then your ancestors stories and in time your story will disappear. Be proud of what you are doing, create a genealogy to a high standard and present it in such a way that non-genealogists can understand and appreciate it. I’ve got several blog posts and a couple of courses in mind to write about the subject of how to present your work to others in such a way that they realise it’s value.
9 Steps to Finding More Time For Your Genealogy – Summary
In fact there are 10 Steps to Finding More Time For Your Genealogy ! Here is Step 10 –
One of the best known and often repeated parts of the Declaration of Independence is that everyone has a right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness“. I believe that being happy is very important, if you aren’t happy then others around you aren’t going to be happy either. Unhappiness has a huge knock-on effect in all areas of your life. So if working away at your genealogy makes you happy then go for it. Make sure you carve out some time every week to happily find ancestors. Use my 9 Steps to Finding More Time For Your Genealogy and be happy!
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