ITS ALL ABOUT ORGANIZATION
December 23, 2012
It doesn’t matter where you are using your computer in your house to research, but somewhere you have all those paper documents, reference books, magazines and journals and syllabuses you have collected over time. It should be arranged neatly and labeled so that you can find things you are looking for. Then, you must be able to find those things quickly through the development of an index. Recently I offered to give a book to a friend. She thought she might have the book but after searching her office for about five minutes she finally told me over the phone that she did not have it and would be happy to have it. Is your office like this? Do you have an inventory of all your books and papers? Do you know where the index and the books are located? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then it is time to clean out and organize either before or soon after the New Year.
Before I could write this article on organization with a clear conscience I checked my office for “user friendly” status. It was user friendly but the shelves contained out of date information and software. I found two large four-inch three-ring binders from American Genealogical Lending Library (AGLL). These are out of date and the company where I used to buy my microfilm is no longer in business and most of this information is online at FamilySearch.org or Ancestry.com. Tossing those heavy books started the cleanup and organization of my office. Since then I have categorized the printed journals I receive and placed them in clear magazine holders and labeled each one with its contents. I kept only specific journals dated in the last two years. The genealogy library will get all the ones I no longer need, as well as my books, including my genealogy mystery books.
All Microsoft books, Adobe products, PageMaker manuals, Legacy Family Tree instructions, etc., are filed together on different shelves. Reference books were in order as were the family information and sources on which I am currently working. I left room for the genealogical books I listed on my Wish List. Maybe Santa will be good to me and bring all of them.
While organizing my shelves and office supply cabinet I began to think of time savers that would allow more time in the future to keep everything organized and give me more time for my writing responsibilities, volunteer and various board responsibilities. Foremost are the computer related time wasters such as those things that keep circulating around the Internet asking you to continue its journey forward. Also in this category is precious time spent on blogs, social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter, etc. I trimmed the blogs to the two I actually read and unsubscribed from the rest. I kept Facebook because I do get pictures and sweet notes from some of our family such as the picture on the baby hospital scales and details of my recent niece’s birth, and friend’s daughter. I don’t have an office staff. It is just me and I do not have the time to respond to others. Subscriptions to various free newsletters also clog up my inbox. I made folders and applied rules to the emails I choose to keep, unsubscribed from others, and took the old folders off my screen. This should give me more quality time for writing columns and articles, plus more time with my family.
The ringing telephone was next on my list. I subscribe to the no call list on my home phone and cell phone. Still, all the political messages, charities and telephone surveyors still call, usually during dinnertime but I get some during the daytime. I purchased a gadget that allows me to block specific numbers and it works well. Some carpet companies and political messages still call because they just change the phone number from which they are calling. My blocker gadget uses only the number not the series of numbers used by these unwanted callers. Now, we go days without having an unwanted phone call.
Becoming organized is time consuming, but worth it. Really, decide whether you want to play, be distracted by unwanted phone calls and have your inbox filled with unread emails. Make your decision in 2012 to be more organized in 2013. It does pay off.
AUTHORS OF GENEALOGICAL MATERIAL SOUGHT: The Dallas Genealogical Society hunts for authors for their new scholarly journal, Pegasus: Journal of the Dallas Genealogical Society. When the first journal is published in the spring of 2013, it will be the only genealogical society to pay authors for their work. Direct questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Web site at http://dallasgenealogy.org/DGS_Docs/Temporary/PegasusWritersGuidelines.
Brenda Kellow has a bachelor's degree in history, teaches, and lectures on genealogy. Before retiring to publish her family’s histories in 2007, Brenda held certification as a Certified Genealogist and as a Certified Genealogical Instructor. Send reunion announcements, books to review, and genealogy queries to: TracingOurRoots@gmail.com.