Saturday, January 3, 2015

Do-Over Down Under

Last month, Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers advised the Genealogy community that he was starting over.  He invited us to join him on a 13-week journey where we put our old research to one side (physical and digital) and....start again.

Thomas has set up a Facebook Page and a new website with a schedule and resources.  You can sign up to receive Genealogy Do-Over emails here.

This kinda appeals to me.  I've always set New Year's Resolutions despite my negative inner voice forecasting doom and gloom.  And yes I'm not a shining example of success - I'm still overweight and I could do more exercise and I could drink less alcohol but hey....if you don't set goals you don't have a direction do you?  And in life I choose to lean on the side of positive rather than negative.  So I'm in Thomas!  

I was going to say "In like Flynn".  That prompted to ask myself the question "Who was Flynn anyway?".  Being a good Genealogist, I
 researched (googled) the phrase and thought better of it.  Flynn apparently refers to Errol Flynn [1]  The phrase means having quickly gained a goal or quick access particularly with regard sexual adventures.  Hmmm.. I have enough family history to deal with already!  Also, this decision was not made lightly and the phrase does not reflect the attitude that I want to bring with me to research. 

So – how am I going to approach these 13 weeks?  This week is about:

1.   Setting Previous Research Aside
2.   Preparing to Research
3.   Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines

In terms of setting previous research aside, I am going to take the modified approach.  I want to focus on organising my files properly – physical and digital.  To that end, I took advantage of Thomas’ discount offer and purchased the Mastering Evernote and Getting Your Genealogy Groove Back Bootcamps from the Hack Store.  The Getting Your Genealogy Groove Back Bootcamp includes the Managing the Genealogy Data Monster handout and Genealogy Resolutions Handout - very useful indeed.

In preparing to research, Thomas encourages us to think about we have researched in the past.  Is there room for improvement?  Hell yeah! I laughed with self-recognition at Thomas’ stories of unplanned research squeezed in before dishing up dinner or at 2am with insomnia.  I want to be more methodical in my research endeavours.  I do want to keep a log of unsuccessful as well as successful searches (AND search terms).  I do want to remember to search for all surname variations.  And most importantly of all I do want to SLOW down and FOCUS.  I am notorious for doing eleven things at once.  Jumping all over the place like a frog.  Listening to a podcast, whilst writing a blog, reading several blogs AND talking to my husband.  Remove distractions or at least be aware of my distracting behaviour.  Tools that might help here are some Podcasts by Genies Down Under e.g. Episode 4 – Planning stuff for Genies and Epiosde 39 – Mistake Stuff for Genies.

Base Practices and Guidelines

I love acronyms or a key to remember how to go about things.  This is after all a Do-Over. 

ACTIONS speak louder than words.  So this is my acronym for how I propose to move forward in my family history research.

A is for Applying what I have learned. Don’t just read about it and think “Oh yeah. That sounds a great way to go about things.”  Actually DO it!

C is for Controlling my environment and the way I behave.  So being conscious of my actions, distractions and the like and curbing impulse behaviour.

T is for Testing theories.  Not just jumping to conclusions.  Really examining my assumptions and the way I think.

I is for Improving wherever I can.  Not just doing things the way I’ve always done them. 

O is for Organizing – myself, my environment, my approach.

N is for Navigating.  Not just leaping in wherever and whenever but having a plan, charting my course and referring to the stars and other guides along the way (without getting distracted of course!)

S is for Sharing my work so those that come after me can find their way more easily and not make the same mistakes.

So...are you in?

[1] Wikipedia ( accessed 3 January 2015), “In Like Flynn”


Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

Great post Alex...Thomas has certainly got us all thinking :)

Alex Daw said...

Thanks Pauleen. I'm completely exhausted. I changed my desk around today. I have literally turned my back on all my old research. The desk is nice and clear but I can barely move I am so tired.

ScotSue said...

I enjoyed reading your first steps in your "Do Over". I loved your analogy to jumping all over the place like a frog, as I am exactly the same - forever multi-tasking and flitting from one thing to another. I did consider Thomas's challenge, but instead I am adopting Cassmob (Pauleen;s) approach "Revisit, Record, Revise" as my motto for 2015. Good luck with your "Do Over" and I look forward to reading about your progress.

diane b said...

Good luck in your new venture. One day I may venture into family history but I have too much going on at the moment.