Organisation, shmorganisation

One thing that people who know me well will say about me is that I come across as organised, determined and singular in how I work. I know what I want, I know how I want to do it and I usually have a pretty clear plan of attack in my mind.

What people who know me really, really well will also say about me is that I am a mucky pup.

My desk at home is a total mess. Papers and books everywhere. Pens hidden under all this stuff which, of course, means I have trouble finding one and invariably end up buying another (if only to add to my ever-growing collection).

My desk at home, when tidied.


That said, I tend to know where things are. Kind of. Well, I have a rough idea of in which general physical area they can be found.

What does this mean for my genealogical research, preservation of documents, reports, and (possibly more importantly) my research plans?

Well, I’ll be honest with you, it’s all a bit haphazard at the moment. Having been an amateur genealogist for so long, and having done it purely for pleasure means I’ve had the luxury of being able to tackle it in whatever way I see fit.

This is how it usually goes:

  • I pick a starting person. I decide I’m going to research more about this person, or try to find their parents.
  • During my research, another person catches my eye. Usually because of an interesting name or place of birth/death.
  • I start looking at this person.
  • I research their parents.
  • Another person catches my eye.
  • I start looking at this person.
  • They live in an interesting place, so I start researching that town.
  • I read some of the history of this town.
  • A person of note is mentioned in the history, so I start researching them.
  • Another person catches my eye.
  • etc
In the end, I’ve got a lot of information on a lot of people, places and events, but haven’t really made headway with my initial plan.

Maybe this is why I have over two thousand people currently in my family tree (cousins of cousins of cousins).

A part of my current family tree.


It has to stop.

Forcing myself to be disciplined is something I really need to do, but where to start.

If anyone has any tips, I would greatly appreciate it. I need to get this all in check before I begin my studies in September and actually need to be incredibly disciplined.

5 thoughts on “Organisation, shmorganisation”

  1. First of all you need to come up with an organisational system that works for you. Actually, two systems – one for physical files and items, and a second for your digital assets. A while back I wrote a post outlining my digital organisation scheme (http://footsteps.bannisterfamily.org/2015/01/my-file-naming-scheme.html ) which might be of use and Janine dams has an excellent blog over at http://organizeyourfamilyhistory.com. Janine also has a lot of great tips on staying focussed and organising your time (something I have trouble with myself) which you should definitely look at.

    I am somewhat of a magpie (and not just ebcause I support the team!) and am easily distracted in my research too. I find it very difficult to stay focused at times. I am trying to make sure I complete my current goal before I start to explore side branches and as a result I have an ever-growing collection of bookmarks of people and documents I want to return to at a later stage of my research. If I ever finish writing my genealogy tools I will make sure I make it easy to maintain a (prioritised) To-Do list as I record my searches…

  2. Hey! Yes, I've been considering the Genealogy Do-Over, but have put it off for now as it daunts me a fair bit. I'll read more on this weekend and decide if it's for me. It looks as though ti probably will be. 🙂

  3. I'm finding keeping a blog is making me stay focused on topic – writing about what I'm researching and knowing 1 or 2 people are going to try and make sense of it helps. Also, I use spreadsheets to help me see relationships and compare dates if I'm trying to sort out who is who. Keep those cousins – I've found info about direct ancestors using clues from their relatives.

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