Thursday, January 1, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over: Week 1

The Genealogy Do-Over has begun! Week 1's topics are as follows:
  1. Set aside previous research.
  2. Prepare to research.
  3. Establish base practices and guidelines.

Set Aside Previous Research

This is the part of the do-over that doesn't really fit with my practice of only using WikiTree as a genealogy database. I don't really want to enter everything again on a desktop program, since I don't like the desktop programs anyway.

So, my version of this will be that as I progress through the do-over I will go over every WikiTree profile in my tree and every source connected to those people with a fresh perspective. I will take nothing for granted.

Prepare to Research

My research up until now has been chaotic at best. Productive, perhaps, but probably not as productive as it would have been if I'd ever had a plan. Or a research log so I don't search the same things again and again.

I've decided to give Evernote a try. It seems like it could be useful to someone like me, who doesn't have a desktop genealogy program. I already use it to clip recipes from the web, so I'm familiar with the basics, though I haven't used it extensively. This week I'll be setting up a few notebooks for genealogy. One notebook will be for research plans and logs. This is what I desperately need to improve, so it's my focus. I haven't decided yet what else to put in Evernote.

In addition, as I've done a little bit in the past, I'll be using Remember the Milk for specific to do lists. For example, "Find So and So's parents." might be on a to do list in Evernote that keeps track of research I want to get back to. But the specific item "Look up So and So's obituary in the Winnipeg Free Press archives." would go in Remember the Milk and be tagged with location:library. Then, when I'm at the library, I can see all the to do items that can be done there. Maybe Evernote could do this too, but I already use Remember the Milk for blogging and housework to do items, so for now I'm sticking with what I'm used to.

Establish Base Practices and Guidelines

This is where I actually change how I research. The plan is to sit down and work on a specific person or event. I will get all the information I can get from the sources I'm looking at. When the exciting leads pop up that would normally have me off in some random direction, I will put it in my research to do list so I remember to come back to it, and then continue what I was doing.

I can't promise I'll be perfect at this, since sometimes inspiration strikes and I just gotta go where the wind takes me, but I'm hoping that this strategy will do a lot to give my research a sense of direction, and help me actually finish tasks instead of just starting all of them.

As a sidenote, I'm loving the community aspect of this challenge! Watching the Facebook group over the past few days has been a great experience. I'm looking forward to learning a lot over the next few months!