I have thought more about the concept of the genealogy escape day that I mentioned yesterday and wondering whether I could achieve the desired effect on a daily basis with a “family history half-hour”.
The desired effect would be to create a space in my life where I could focus purely on my family history. My first thought had been that this was going to be a whole day perhaps once a month, but I wondered if it might be beneficial to create a smaller space but on a more regular basis in the form of a “family history half hour” each weekday.
The principle would be the same, remove all distractions so that I can focus solely on family history. As it would have to be in the evening after work some discipline would be required on my part not to get distracted by everything else going on. However by having that time set aside would hopefully encourage me to get everything else done before the half hour began.
Once the half hour began I would have to learn to ignore my emails or Google Reader, I don’t need to check them that often anyway) and I am sure there isn’t really any need to check for any breaking news in that half hour or to see if the weather forecast has changed dramatically or if there is anything I just have to have on eBay. All these things I waste my precious time on when I should be concentrating on family history.
The exact start of my half hour might not be fixed and of course once I get started it might be difficult stop. Also it doesn’t mean that I won’t be doing family history at other times of the day, but I would hope that a specific half hour would help me focus and achieve more. I will let you know how it goes…
Last weekend I spent the best part of a day organising stuff, not family history stuff this time, but the normal everyday stuff. Filing bank statements and bills, shredding junk mail and all sorts of other fun stuff, basically just clearing the everyday detritus that had gathered on my desk.
I am still having problems finding time for family history research and this is one of my strategies for trying to overcome these problems. Not only do I want to try to free up more time for family history but I also want time for other stuff like walking.
I like to think that my family history is pretty well organised and I like to think that when I sit down to do some research I am working quite efficiently. The problem comes in actually sitting down to do some research.
When I sat down at my desk I was confronted with a pile of paper that I knew I needed to sort out, but that prospect was not very appealing. But it needing sorting out before I did any family history, but rather than get it sorted I would procrastinate and get distracted by other things, anything other than do the filing.
It didn’t help that there was also an assortment of bits and pieces sitting on the desk, which were very easy to pick up and fiddle with. Again anything rather than do any filing and sort out that stuff.
Now I have an almost clear desktop and that pile of paper has gone, it feels very liberating and at the moment I am going to try to keep it that way. There is still some more tweaking that needs doing, there are still several piles of clutter in the spare-bedroom that I need to sort out but they are on the dressing table behind me and out of sight so they are not so much of a problem.
I have removed many digital distractions from my life over the past couple of years, like quitting Facebook and unsubscribing from numerous emails that I didn’t really read and this weekend I cleared a lot of the physical distractions. Whether this have a positive effect on the amount of family history I can do remains to be seen, but for now I am really enjoying my clear desk policy.
I’ve been getting distracted again, there has not really been much proper genealogy going on for a few days, but my brain has been buzzing with ideas and things I want to do, not just with my family tree but with family and local history in general.
One of the things that distracted me was the Your Archives section on The National Archives website. I did look at this many months ago after it was first announced but hadn’t really been back to see how it has taken shape.
Basically it is a user contributed add-on to the main National Archives catalogue, although a lot of the material appears to be based on The National Archives unpublished guides and material. Those familiar with wikipedia will be familiar with the layout and the concept.
The idea is certainly not unique in the family history field, for example the FamilySearch Wiki, and although The National Archives is not just about family history, a large percentage appears to be related to the subject.
There were a couple of interesting projects that caught my eye. Firstly, the Metropolitan Police Records Project which provides, amongst other things, access to digital photos of some of the documents relating to the force via Flickr. This caught my eye because my 3x great grandfather briefly served in the Metropolitan Police, although I have already established that I am unlikely to find a record of his service.
Secondly, the Historical Streets Project, which is using the census street indexes as the starting point for a massive database of properties, where users can submit details about the properties. This is one database where I could probably contribute some material, not just ancestral homes, but those in my local area.
It is a very eclectic mix of subjects, as one would expect from the National Archives, but it is a site I shall keep an eye on and see if there is something that I can contribute to it in some way.
Today I got to thinking about two of my main projects which seem to have fallen by the wayside, it has been a while since I actually did any serious work on either of them.
My work on Thomas KINGHORN (3x great grandfather) seems to have lost out to his more interesting father (the mail guard), and William Henry and Harriet MITCHELL have given way to finding Harriet’s parents (which is proving to be quite intriguing).
I guess it is natural to move on to something which seems more interesting, especially when many of my questions have already been answered. Also it is difficult to look at one family group without considering their parents (and children) as well.
I don’t think I will be stopping either project just yet, instead I think it is time to review what I have already achieved and start asking some new questions, looking for new avenues to explore and finding something equally interesting to draw me back in.