Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Year, New Habits

Well, the Christmas decorations are almost all put away. It is time to tackle the piles of paperwork in my office and work on some filing so that I can start on the taxes. It is January, so I have started my list of all the things I'm going to do differently this year than last. I'm sure you all do the same. It is a new year, so we have a clean slate to develop some new habits, right?
Following are some new habits, new routines, and new tasks I would like to challenge you with for this new year:
  1. Set up a daily (or at least weekly) backup routine on your computer. You can use backup software to make this easy. I'm currently using Genie Backup Manager and find it very simple to use. It is set to automatically backup each night at a specific time. You can get a portable hard drive or flash drive to put the files on. To be extra safe, have two sets of backup drives and take one with you to work so that it is out of the house as an extra precaution. Make sure you are backing up your genealogy database files, important e-mail, your address book, and your research notes.
  2. Find a local genealogy society, or one local to an area in which your ancestors lived, and attend a meeting or join the society as a new member. Supporting the local genealogy societies means supporting their projects to preserve and publish genealogical records.
  3. Make a genealogy to-do list for yourself with all the things you would like to accomplish, all the projects or tasks you have had in mind to do. Then, pick just one thing on that list and get to it. Don't let the entire list overwhelm you and discourage you because you feel so far behind already (we've all been there!). Ignore the other things on the list until later. Just focus on that one item and apply yourself. Ideas for your list: organizing your photos; scanning photos for archiving and preservation; setting up an organized filing system for your research notes; inputting source citations for the various fields in your genealogy database; culling through your research notes and tidying them up.
  4. Buy a genealogy how-to book or find one at your local library. Whether it is a beginners book for you to review, or a specific genealogy topic you would like to learn, taking the time to educate yourself will help immensely as your research progresses.
  5. Transcribe a genealogically relevant document or record. Perhaps you have something in your own collection (a diary, a letter, etc.) that you would like to transcribe and share with the world on a web page. Or maybe you would like to join a group of volunteers who are putting records online for all of us to use.
  6. Attend at least one genealogy class, seminar, or conference. You will learn something new and have a chance to meet fellow genealogists.
  7. Makes plans for your genealogical research materials to have a home after you are gone. Do you family members know what to do with all your stuff? Do you have plans for a cousin, a society, or a library to inherit your research? Figure it out and then put it in writing.
  8. Start writing Thank-You notes to people who help you. Whether it was a big deal or a small gesture, a nice message (e-mail or snail mail) of gratitude goes a long way.
  9. Review your research, especially the stuff you did when you were brand new to all of this. Going back over things you did several months or years ago can often be seen with a fresh set of eyes and possibly give you new ideas for research paths to follow.

I'm sure you can all help me come up with more ideas for new habits in the new year. Now that we're thinking about it, let's get to doing some of them!



Joanne said...

What great suggestions for the New Year, Cyndi! Especially about going back to the early information and research. It will provide a lot more information later when we have more understanding of the family and research strategies! I must move that up higher on my list! Joanne

Miriam Robbins said...

Regarding item #3: I welcome you, Cyndi, and your readers, to join us for Scanfest, held the last Sunday of every month from January through October. It's a great way to get going on those overwhelming scanning projects, with the added fun of chatting with other genealogists (kind of like those old-time quilting bees!). Click here for more details.


Great list, Cyndi.

Now, if we can only move from making lists to actually carrying out each suggestion :-)

I will attempt to do that, despite my procrastination gene.

Schelly Talalay Dardashti

Anonymous said...

Hey Cindi, Love your idea's. Mine is to try to get a membership into DAR's this year. I found several ancestors that were in the Revolutionary War, but I'm leaning toward one to get my research done. I have a feeling I'm in for the long haul though, I picked my Smith relative. You know the story. Anyways, with all the researching I'm doing, I thought I would put it to good use. Wish Me Luck !!!

Anonymous said...

That is a really good idea to go back to stuff you researched in the beginning. I was making notes today about a family line ,checking the census results.I started to wonder if i had the correct records for the person as i had thought she had more siblings than were on the census.Turns out i had the wrong records for the person so that made all the family line wrong.
Its better to find the mistake sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

The suggestion to go back over your previous research is what I urge in my Brick Wall speech that I have given for several years. Many of my students and fellow genealogists tell me that they have broken through their brick walls by finding an item in their files that didn't really connect in earlier years of research but, suddenly, it made sense with all the other info gathered since then.