We are coming to the end of Month One of my 2017 Genealogy Go-Over. As I have remarked before, my work this year is a continuation of the work I did through the four quarters of 2015. The homework Assignment 1 for Month 1 concerning organization was simple for me — because the file structure and the included files established in 2015 are working well for me.
But Assignment 2 "Preparing for Research"? I've been thinking about this all month without getting anywhere! (There have been interruptions — aren't there always interruptions?) I got a new laptop in December; the keyboard has new features I've never seen before. The computer comes with the most recent operating system, and osSierra has BIG changes, so there is a large learning curve. (I AM learning, but it eats up time.)
So here I am, at the end of the month: "I don't have the answer!" "What will I do?!" "I have to make up my mind!"
WHOA. Thomas MacEntee keeps telling up to have fun when we're doing genealogy. He also says that everyone is an an individual and we are to tailor our studies to fit our respective individualities — and the panic recedes.
Earlier this January, I started a three-part discussion on how aging and its attendant illnesses and lowered energy levels affect "doing" Genealogy. I received lots of insight from my fellow "Do-Over-ers" and "Go-Over-ers." What I learned during that discussion is a factor in my input for the rest of this blog.
I'm still not sure I'm doing what Thomas expected, but as I said above — this is Sue (with her own quirks) and not someone else (with different quirks). I am mentioning this in order to encourage readers to add suggestions by commenting on the blog or on the Genealogy Do-Over Group Page on Facebook.
The assignment says "Make a list of your current research habits… ." This is what I wrote:
"I begin a research session by opening my 'ToDoList' database and my 'ResearchLog' document(s); I then pick a task for this session. (I prioritize very lightly — the reasoning behind this is discussed below.) I work on the selected task, write up the ResearchLog on that session's activities, and record the next steps to be taken. I don't have a special time of day or week for research." (The reasons for not having a scheduled time is also discussed below.)
After considering the above statement, I am pretty well satisfied. I could acquire more records if I were more disciplined in my work. But my aim is for improving quality not quantity; this pattern gives me a pattern for improving the quality of my work. And why don't I apply more discipline in setting up my work times? There are two factors behind this attitude: my age and my former employment.
Please understand that I loved my job. But I spent 30 years working to meet a constantly shrinking time frame alternating with periods of finger-tapping waiting for materials to work with. Scheduling!
The front end held the waiting times. A text-book series was in the works but the various manuscripts were slow to arrive. This wasn't some ploy on the authors' parts to annoy their editors. If you write, you know that writing is a process of refinement and the process takes as long as it takes. The shortened time frames came from marketing. "I know we said March, but there's a large adoption coming up in February, can you move up the publishing date?"
We always made the deadline, without sacrificing the quality of the books, but frequently at the expense of 16-hour workdays. When I became fully retired, I chose a more relaxed life style. I'm happier now that I don't have dreaded deadlines ahead of me.
As to my aging: I'm 89; the next age is 90. I'm becoming a very senior Senior Citizen. I get sick more easily and more often. My sleep patterns are erratic — I'll sleep for 20 hours, then I can't get to sleep. So I must choose my research times to match my strength and my alertness, rather than to match the clock.
And finally, I have decided that if I am not alert enough to do "real" genealogy, I will spend some time on some support tasks which interest me: explore hints and/or shaky leaves, prepare some indexes that I want to have, and so on. I've lined up several activities of this type. The discipline I will apply to these activities is to spread them out; to do one type, then the next, etc., — falling into shallow rabbit holes instead of deep ones.