Set realistic goals and keep genealogy fun

11 years ago

Set realistic goals and keep genealogy fun 

Family Searcher

By Nina Brawn

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    I like to keep my family history research interesting (at least to me), so I tend to flit around — like a butterfly — from person to person, task to task. I call my research style “butterflying.” Are there holes in my research? You bet!

But after almost three decades I still enjoy genealogy. I think the reason is because I don’t view it as a school assignment which must be completed a certain way; and I set reasonable, achievable goals.
    I hate to admit it, but sometimes, if you let it be, genealogy can be tedious. Much of the information we want is just not online, or simply may not exist. Scanning, computerizing or just organizing paperwork can be boring. I avoid boredom by limiting the amount of tedium, and by performing those tasks when my energy level is at a peak. I also reward myself afterward by doing something fun.
    For example, I know that, while my energy is high when I first get to work, if I spend the first 15 minutes doing something boring, like stuffing sheet protectors, then I will lose my enthusiasm. So I spend five minutes doing that then reward myself with a few minutes of online research or organizing photographs. I know that later in the afternoon I will have another high energy spark after I have been out in the fresh air getting the mail, so I plan to do the other 10 minutes of sheet protector stuffing then.
    It doesn’t sound like much, but working this way, I have filled eight feet of binders with sheet protected, organized, family history research. I have 10,000 photos, slides and documents scanned into my computer, and have 1,000 of them attached to online trees.
    I hear all the time from people who feel they have no time for genealogy, but perhaps they are simply setting their goals too high. Most of us do this when we begin our quest.
    When I started, I wanted was to fill out a full pedigree chart; thinking it wouldn’t take too long and it would satisfy me. Hah! It took years to get all my lines filled back four generations, but by then I had found so many aunts, uncles and cousins; and fascinating stories, that I was OK with where I was and where I was headed.
    If all you have is a few minutes here and there, then plan them carefully to make the most of them. Decide what you want to accomplish next, devise a strategy, and start the project. Be sure to use the last minute of your work session to plan your next one. Remember the key is reasonable, achievable goals.
    If you only seem to have time available at the end of the day when you have no energy, then for the first month or so, consider simply reading about genealogy or getting hints online. This is usually positive and encouraging, and may get you started faster in a direction that will be successful with short work sessions.
    Allow yourself a little leeway and I think you might be pleasantly surprised with the results.
    Columnist Nina Brawn of Dover-Foxcroft is a longtime genealogy researcher, speaker and teacher. Her semimonthly column is sponsored by the Aroostook County Genealogical Society which meets the fourth Monday of the month except in July and December at Cary Medical Center’s Chan Education Center at 6:30 p.m. FMI contact Edwin “J” Bullard at 492-5501.