It’s sometimes easy with our hectic schedules and lives to put our genealogy research on the back burner. I know that I myself did this for several years in a row before I decided to make time for it. There are things that you can work on even if you only have 15 minutes. And this post is going to talk a little bit about how you can squeeze even a little bit of genealogy into your free time each day.
1. One of the first things that you can do if you have only 15 minutes to work on genealogy is to check your research log. What? You don’t have a research log! Well,worry no further because I will tell you all about how to keep a research log soon, so stay posted. Now, after you have established a research log it’s a good idea to take a few minutes reviewing it. What was the last thing that you were working on? Who was the last person that you were thinking about? This can give you a quick recap and perhaps something small that you can focus on.
2. Make a research plan. Many of us are slapdash when it comes to research and we just let our research take us wherever we fancy. Sometimes that’s okay, in fact, sometimes it’s fun. You never know where you’re going to end up! But, if you only have 15 minutes it’s a very good idea to make sure that you know exactly what you’re looking for and exactly where you’re going to look for it. This ties into keeping a research log. If you know that the last thing that you looked at was your third great grandfather on your father’s side mother’s line, and that you left off in search of his military records, you now know what the research plan is. Locating your grandfather’s military records.
3. Know your resources. Look I’m as guilty as everybody else, you start looking for something and then pretty soon you get shiny object syndrome and you’re looking for a completely different record than what you started out looking for. But, sometimes you need to make sure that you’re going to one research source and that you’re only going to research that one thing. Let’s think about poor old grandpa again he would really like it if you would find his military records. So, identify the best places to locate these records and stick to it. If you’ve only got five minutes you don’t want to waste them finding Aunt Bessie’s spouses.
4. Wrap it up. If you’ve been searching for 10 minutes and you’re sure you’re going to find something and you’re hot on the trail give yourself another 10 minutes if you can. If not, make a note in your log about where you left off. Now it’ll be up to you when you returned your log whether you want to pick up searching on the same resource or if you feel you’ve exhausted it and should move to the next one.
5. Eureka! You found Grandpa’s military records in record time. You can’t believe it. The first search, at the first website. How lucky for you that Robert Johnson’s military records were so easy to find. Before you enter in that information, double check to make sure the facts match up with your ancestor. Did he sign up and serve in the state that he lived in? If he didn’t what makes you think that he went to another state to do so? There were probably quite a few Robert Johnson’s and you really want to make sure it was your Robert Johnson. So, before you attach that record to your ancestor note down what you found in the log with the link and any thoughts you have about why it does or does not support that it’s your ancestor. Now you probably have run out of time at this point, that’s okay it will give you something to research during your next 15 minutes. Sometimes it’s good to let these things rest for a day or two after you’re not quite as excited about it so you can look at it more objectively.
6. How about if you don’t want to get into any research and break it up into little bits? There are plenty of things that you can do in 15 minutes that are allowing you to work on your genealogy project. And they are important ones. How about you pick one family and double check the information in them. Are the birth dates right? How about where they died? Are there photos attached? Are there any red flags or things that don’t add up? As you can see you can do a lot of verification work in a little bit of time.
7. Get those old photos out of the box and get them scanned in a little bit at a time. Make sure that your organizing them as you go. I suggest that you create a genealogy photos folder. Create a folder for each side of the family and then subfolders according to family names that belong to each side and save the photos into the appropriate folder. After you have all these photos scanned in feel free to use 15 minutes at a time to attach them to the correct individuals in your genealogy program.
8. Another thing that you could use your 15 minutes on is creating a DNA match log. This is going to be one that I am starting because as time has gone by and I have talked to so many people I cannot remember who I have answered and who I have not answered let alone where we left off last. In fact you could do this for your regular genealogical contacts and I recommend that you do.
9. Organize your resources. This might look like organizing your internet bookmarks, magazines and articles, offline resources, book lists, personal Library, and other resources. Often as we acquire things, such as Internet bookmarks we favorited, it goes to one main genealogy folder and it takes us an hour to find it again. In order to avoid that don’t be afraid to get granular with the subfolders. Organization might take a little bit of extra time in the beginning but it will save you heaps of time in the end.
I hope that these nine suggestions have inspired you to pick your genealogy back up if you have been feeling the squeeze for time recently. There are many other things that you could do with 15 minutes but I have to end the article somewhere! Feel free to comment and tell me what you do when you only have a little bit of time to spare and you want to work on your genealogy.