In my house, Iâ€™m the thermostat police. Iâ€™m constantly turning it down and when the family complains I promptly hand them a sweatshirt. Weâ€™ve put plastic over the windows to keep out extra drafts and a rolled up towel sits at the foot of front and back doors to give added support to the weather stripping. And itâ€™s paying off. Despite really cold temps this month, my utilities bill was still lower than last year. Yeah!
I try to keep my family history research â€œenergy efficientâ€ too. A few simple steps can really make a difference and help you get the most out of every precious minute you have to spend with your family history.
Start a To-Do List
Too often I find that I have just fifteen minutes or a half hour between errands and picking up my daughter and Iâ€™d like to be able to sneak in a little family history in between. I have a word processing document that I saved to my desktop and whenever I think of a task I need to do, I add it to my document. I keep it free form and I can add notes–where I left off last time I worked on that task, what Iâ€™ve tried and failed with, where to look next, etc.
Some of the items are from when I got interrupted midstream. They may say something like â€œtranscribe Joe Dennisâ€™s birth certificate into Family Tree Maker,â€ or â€œcreate a timeline for George Dennis.â€
Shorter tasks like the transcription are highlighted, so when I only have a few minutes, I can go right to those items and knock them off. As items are completed, I mark them complete and move them to the bottom of the document. Itâ€™s a simple system, but it works for me.
Keep Up with Filing
Although I have the best of intentions, I still struggle with keeping up with filing. I have given in to a certain extent and have a â€œto be filedâ€ box that I have to empty occasionally. When I get time to tackle the pile, I sort first into a small standing file frame with folders for each surname. Then when thatâ€™s done, I pull out a folder at a time and file it into the binder for that family.
Are You Letting Technology Help You?
The tools we use are constantly evolving and sometimes itâ€™s hard to keep up. Add reading Help files or user manuals for the tools you use so that youâ€™re taking advantage of all the features. For Ancestry tools, check the Learning Center to see if there is a webinar that can help.Â Take online tours wherever they are available.Â
Plan Your Research Trips
If you have a research trip coming up, start a separate to-do list for that trip. If youâ€™ll be visiting several repositories, you might want to create a separate list for each one. Use online catalogs to look up film and call numbers ahead of time for the materials you plan to use. Explore the library website for descriptions of the collections and check for any restrictions. Call ahead too to make sure that there are no major unexpected closures. You can enlist the help of fellow genealogists on message boards or mailing lists too. Ask for advice from genealogists on lists or boards for the geographic area you will be visiting. They may share some helpful tips with you that will help you get more from your trip.
Keep a Book in the Car
Since I often find myself waiting in the car for my daughter to get out of some activity, I keep a bag of books and a notepad and pen in my car so that when Iâ€™m sitting there waiting, I can catch up on my reading. I jot down notes on things that may be relevant to my research or that Iâ€™d like to learn more about. The bag is handy because I can take it in when I have an appointment and know I may have a wait. Now I actually look forward to my â€œwaiting time.â€