Tag Archives: sorting

Getting organised… again

17 May

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.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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I never did get that filing done, but I will

5 Apr

A couple of weeks ago I said I was going to try to get on top of my filing and organising. Well I never did actually complete it, but I hope to this week.

Aside from getting my notes in order it was also meant to kill some time whilst I waited for the marriage certificate of Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER. It was this marriage certificate that proved my undoing.

I wasn’t sure what I going to do with my notes until the certificate arrived, so my organising stalled. I didn’t know whether the notes that I had taken would prove to be relevant to my research or not so I ignored them, then when the certificate arrived I was too distracted following up on that to pick up where I had left off.

I know what I need to do with them now, but I have been distracted and lost the momentum, so I need to kickstart my filing again. There are a couple of pages that can probably be tossed in the bin (but I will keep a record of them, just in case). I also have a few more new postcards and a couple of photocopies to scan as well now.

I am very bad at dealing with incoming information and it is something I need to work on. Too often I just grab the pertinent piece of information from a record and neglect the rest of the information contained in it. Of course I still have a record of all the information somewhere but it doesn’t always get recorded in my family tree.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 48

28 Nov

I hadn’t expected last week to be quite rewarding. I have decided to concentrate most my efforts of some housekeeping of my family history, and it has proved to be rewarding and enjoyable.

It is also taking quite a long time. So far I have been through the first eight individuals (in numerical order) in my database and updated as much as I could, some of the information I updated related to other individuals, but the core of the work was on those eight people. At that rate it will be nearly four years before I have revisited every individual in my database, so I may have re-think the strategy, and that doesn’t take into account that these individuals were pretty well documented already and that I have added a load more stuff to my to-do list in the process.

I do think it is worthwhile however, it has spotlighted lots of work I still need to do and thrown up lots of interesting questions such as when did someone move, or what was the relationship of the witnesses at their wedding. It has certainly guaranteed that I am never going to be short of things to do, my to-do list grew by over twenty items during the week, even though I know some of those items are unlikely to be cleared for years to come.

It has also forced me to make some decisions on how I record things in my database. I use Family Historian and it is just too flexible for someone like me who can’t decide where things should be recorded and how I want things to show up on the many different reports.

There was really only one major discovery, the whereabouts of my 2x great-aunt Ethel Mary TROWER in the 1911 census had eluded me until this week. I guess I hadn’t spent a lot of time searching until now because I was surprised how easy it was to find her in the end. She turned up in Henfield, Sussex working as a domestic servant at a house called Terrys Cross (which is now a retirement home). I have passed it many times on the bus and it is nice to know there is a family connection with it.

It hasn’t been all about housekeeping this week. I did order the death certificate for Margaret KINGHORN (who I wrote about last Monday) last weekend, which arrived at the end of the week and has provided a few more hard facts about her life. I still need to do more work on my Carlisle relations and pull together as many more hard facts as I can before I think about paying their archives a visit next year.

This week will be much of the same, I probably need to try and speed up a little (or a lot) but it is really proving to be very worthwhile. The other advantage is that I can do it pretty much anywhere with my netbook, whether I am waiting at the station, sitting on the train or whilst on my lunch break, and a lot of the time I don’t even need an internet connection.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 47

21 Nov

I am quite pleased with what I achieved last week, despite being away from home for a large part of it. I have got rid of a whole load of photocopies because they are now scanned and transcribed, plus I have worked through a few older ones that I have been hanging on to for too long.

This time last year I was in the middle of my Christmas Tree Project, trying to find all my ancestors back to my 4x great-grandparents and getting a chart printed before Christmas. This year in the run up to Christmas I will be taking things a lot easier, partly because I don’t have the time to do all the rushing about.

In the coming weeks I intend to focus on sorting out the last remaining bits of paper I have hanging around, doing a quick scan through my hard drive just to make sure everything is still in order and then settling down to do some housekeeping on my database.

I envisage the housekeeping part of this to consist of checking each individual in my database for the key bits of information: birth, baptism, marriage, death, burial, census, military service, probate. A lot of new records have been released online this year and I need to spend some time bringing everyone up to date.

Some of this information I can update straight away, like the census, but others will need to be put on my to-do list for the next time I visit a particular archive or record office. I am not sure if this is an achievable task within the next few weeks, but it doesn’t really matter if it isn’t because it can carry on into next year.

Apart from that, I need to start casting my eyes towards Carlisle again and the KINGHORN family. I had planned to visit the Carlisle Record Office this year, but it closed earlier in the year whilst it was being relocated. It is due to re-open in January 2011 and I hope to get up there for a few days when it does. I have no idea if it is going according to schedule, but for my part I need to start thinking about what research I want to do when I finally get there.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 46

14 Nov

I didn’t achieve a great deal of what I had set out to do last week, instead I ended up spending most of my time working on the BOXALL war memorial blog posts. I did do a few bits of transcribing here and there, but it was mostly war memorial work.

I guess I wasn’t quite as well prepared for writing the posts as I had thought, and once I had started writing I realised that there was so much more that I would like to have found out if I had more time. In a way this has proved to me the value of blogging, in helping to identify what I know and what I don’t know.

I need to decide whether I am going to continue working on some or all of these BOXALLs, there are a lot more sources that I could check, for example I should go through the local newspaper for mentions of them and consult the actual medal rolls to check battalion details and look for previous battalions.

My current thinking is that it would probably be worth my while searching the local newspaper anyway, regardless of whether it is just for the BOXALLs, there are probably many other interesting stories waiting to be discovered in West Dean. Next time I am down at the West Sussex Record Office I will probably make a start on that even though it may a couple of visits.

I think I will try and find out more about the service of the two BOXALLs that are my closest relations, Leonard Arthur and Walter Henry. I will however also put the others on my list of things to do for the next time I visit The National Archives.

I still can’t get away from the idea of a One-Place Study on West Dean. I know it is foolish to even think I have the time for it, but I feel it would be beneficial for me to carry out. Probably I will just start one, but not tell anyone about it, just so I can see if I do have time for it, then I won’t feel I have let anyone down if I don’t complete it, there is nothing worse than a half-finished abandoned website.

This week I think I will and get back to some sorting out, starting with updating all the material that I have gathered during my work on the West Dean war memorial (and updating my to-do list), but it is time I had a general tidy up around my computer desk, get rid of all the newspaper photocopies that are now scanned, and generally have a bit of a sort out.

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