Tag Archives: time management

Time for a family history half hour?

28 Feb

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…

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Overcoming my blogging challenges – Part 2

22 Oct

I must confess to being quite excited about my new plans for this blog, not that there is going to be any major changes, just that I am going to try and be a little bit more organised so that I am blogging more efficiently, thus making more time for actual research.

There will be some new daily blogging themes, although they are not really new, more a case that I haven’t used them on a regular basis before. The intention is that I will know what sort of post I am supposed to be writing on each day, but there is lots of scope within each theme for plenty of variety.

There is also plenty of scope to allow me to make a whole week’s posts based on a particular subject, such as a place or a person. Also I will occasionally do away with the themes altogether for "special occasions", like genealogy conferences or Remembrance Day.

In essence what I am saying is that although I am setting myself some guidelines, they are not hard and fast rules, so expect things to change. That is assuming of course that I can stick to my plans, which is by no means guaranteed, and it goes without saying that I will probably have switched everything round within a couple of weeks anyway.

Now the only thing I have to sort out is the crazy idea that I should turn my current obsession with the parish of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex into a one-place study. One part of me says "go for it, it would be a great subject for a one-place study", but the more practical part of me says "when are you ever going to find time to fit that in as well?"

I just can’t get the idea out of my head at the moment and I am already mentally making plans, but I know it is just not practical at the moment, but more ideas still keep coming, the more I try and suppress them the more they demand to be brought to life. I need to be strong for now and not give in to them, but I think I will have to eventually.

Overcoming my blogging challenges

20 Oct

These last couple of weeks I have really been struggling to keep up my daily blogging routine. So far I have managed to achieve my unwritten goal of putting out at least one blog post each day, but some days it has been a real struggle. Why am I telling you this? Well, there are several reasons (one of which is to give me something to write about) but mainly the hope is that acknowledging the problem will help me deal with it in some way.

I know this is not the first time I have struggled to post every day and I am sure it will not be the last. I think time is probably the biggest issue here. I have lots of things I want to write about, but most of them seem to be things that will take more research than I really have time for. I want my posts to be more detailed, but that takes up lots more time.

I know there are lots of great blogging themes over at GeneaBloggers and I seem to have fallen out of the habit of using them, but perhaps I should. They are a great way to inspire ideas and generate content. I also have some regular themes of my own, Picture Postcard Parade and Personal Genealogy Update are two of my regular ones.

I think what is needed is a more regular schedule, perhaps not a calendar as such, but just a weekly list, so that I know in advance what I should be writing about on a particular day. What the actual themes are, and how many of the GeneaBloggers themes I use still needs to be worked out, but I think now is the time I got more organised.

I do like the fact that I seem to have a "West Dean" theme running through many of my posts at the moment, if I could manage to do that every week then that would be good, but I think that would probably take too much effort and at times would leave me struggling to find something to fit rather than whatever came naturally.

I will almost certainly allow myself to break out of the routine from time to time, so that I can focus on a particular topic for a week. For example, I have several postcards on a particular subject that I would like to showcase, but dragging it out over several weeks doesn’t make sense, neither does cramming them all together into one really long post.

Having written about my blogging challenges and describing the probable solution, I now feel a lot more positive about the whole subject. It is amazing how getting things off your chest can help, I now feel ready to go out and conquer the blogosphere, well maybe not, but at least I might be able to stop worrying.

Time: the family historian’s biggest enemy

18 Oct

[I will apologise right at the start that this is going to be a rather rambling post, probably repeating itself several times and wasting a slice of your precious time, but thanks for reading it anyway]

I would have to say that a lack of time is probably the family historian’s biggest enemy (I am talking here about the amateur researcher, not those that do it for a living) and certainly my own biggest challenge. There are just too many demands on our time these day, some of these are of our own making, but the vast majority are things we need to do just to survive.

If I had lots of money things would be easier, but where is the enjoyment of paying someone else to visit an archive and search the records for you? Effectively reducing your role to an observer rather than participant. Family history doesn’t make a good spectator sport.

The change in my employment situation about three month ago (getting a job again after six months out of work) has had a major impact on my ability to carry out any family history research. A big part of the problem was the sudden dramatic change, from lots of free time down to virtually none. Rather than being grateful for having a job, it felt like someone had stolen all my time and I would never have time to do any family history ever again.

I realised that thinking like this wasn’t going to get me anywhere, if I actually wanted to carry one doing family history then I would have to change my way of thinking more than anything else. Family history was a big part of my life, and I wanted it to still be a part of my life, but I had to accept that it wasn’t going to be such a big part.

There were several things that I had to do, part of that was to do with managing my time better and making the most of the available time, but a large part of it was about setting my expectations and accepting the situation:

The situation isn’t going to last forever – I don’t realistically expect to be in this job for the rest of my life (although it would be nice if I was), so one way or another the situation is going to change again at some time in the future, and hopefully I will be able to spend more time on family history.

I couldn’t do everything that I wanted with my family history – Until my situation changes again I am not going to be able to do everything I want to so I need to get used to the idea and make the most of the time I do have, rather than worrying about what I don’t have time to do.

Sometimes family history has to take second place – There are many other demands on my time, and some are more important than family history. I shouldn’t resent the time that I have to spend doing other things and not necessarily see them as things that are preventing me from doing family history, but rather to see them as opportunities to take a break from family history and relax.

Family history is not just about collecting names and dates – By changing what I consider to be family history work, I have enabled myself to spend more time doing family history. This blog is now part of my family history work, reading other blogs and buying postcards of ancestral villages are also family history, as is walking around the places where my ancestors lived. It turned out I was doing more family history than I thought!

In conclusion, whilst I have made some effort to adjust they way I work to make it more efficient, by far the biggest answer to my lack of time has been changing my attitude and way of thinking rather than anything practical.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 35

29 Aug

I am feeling much better about my genealogy this week, I did actually sit down and get on with some family history last week. The previous week had been severely lacking in family history, but last week I actually got down to completing some of the task I had set myself.

The BATEMAN certificates have been processed and I now have some more work to do next time I am in Brighton and the East Sussex Record Office. I hadn’t intended to start any detailed work on the English side of the BATEMAN family, but they seem to have taken over from the Australian side at the moment.

I wrote about ordering copies of four wills, this represents a short-term investment of time and money, because it is going to take a few weeks for them to arrive, and once they do it is going to give me some work to do that I can complete relatively easily from home, but will probably open up many more avenues of research.

I am not sure what I will be working on this week, at the moment there doesn’t appear any clear plan in place, I just work on what appeals to me at the time. I have the opportunity in three weeks time to visit an archive, so I need to start work on deciding which one to visit and what research to do (yes, it will take me three weeks to decide).

I seem to have been a bit distracted this week on a couple of other projects, not family history as such, but certainly history related, no doubt I will get around to writing about them eventually. I seem to be building up a long list of things to write about, but I don’t know when I will find the time to actually write them.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 32

8 Aug

Time is still proving to be an issue, there are just not enough hours in the day to do all the genealogy I would like. I am still working on reducing the number of distractions in my life, such as the number of emails I get each day (I am glad not to have Twitter or Facebook to worry about).

I can also see that my research has become much more focused, normally I would be switching from family to family on an almost daily basis, but this week I have been focused on the Australian BATEMANs. I didn’t actually do much new research this week, but I did find a newspaper announcement of the death of Annie Clark BATEMAN, which interestingly lists all her brothers and sisters and her husband, but not her children.

I have done some work on their addresses, and I am currently pulling together addresses from various sources (mainly Electoral Rolls) and updating the details on Family Historian. This is throwing up the age old problem of how do I record the place names from the Australian Electoral Rolls, how much detail do I record in the place name field and how much in the source citations?

My lack of knowledge of all things Australian is starting to become obvious, I need to do some background reading on Australian genealogy and perhaps even get hold of some old maps. I keep trying to relate things back to English genealogy, but I have no idea how similar the records are or whether the process is similar or not.

This week I am going to focus on places, decide how I am going to record all the information. For now I just need to make sure I have all the information recorded somewhere, whether I keep it in the same format or not in the future is a different question.

I also want to try and fill in some gaps in the English side of William Joseph Henry BATEMAN’s life. The first step will be to get copies of his parent’s marriage certificate and his birth certificate. Both of these should be in Brighton, Sussex so that will give me some more local information to follow up. I also need to see if I can untangle WJH’s naval career and find out what further information I might be able to discover, I probably need to get hold of a copy of a guide to naval ancestors from the library.

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