Tag Archives: time

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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I need a genealogy escape day once in a while

27 Feb

I know it won’t last, but I have come away from this years Who Do You Think You Are? Live incredibly motivated and fired up with enthusiasm for family history. The challenge now is to keep this going for the next twelve months until the next WDYTYA Live rolls around (assuming it does).

The weekend was filled with talk of what could be achieved in idealised genealogy world where anything is possible if you just have the time and money and know where to look. In the real world however I have definite shortage of the first two, although the third doesn’t worry me quite so much.

One aspect I really liked about the three-day weekend was that I was, for a very short time, a full-time family historian, nothing else mattered for those 72 hours. I know I can’t afford to do this very often, but I wonder if I might be able replicate this on a smaller scale.

Perhaps once a month I could take a day out and treat myself to a genealogy escape day where I can take myself off somewhere (not necessarily an archive) where I can concentrate on family history. Maybe in the summer I could find an isolated hill-top where I can just escape everything and think of nothing else but family history for a while.

It might seem a little selfish, but I think I need to get away from the hassles and distractions of everyday life every once in a while, maybe even disconnect from the internet, or at least use it as a tool and not let it be a distraction.

One thing I am certain of is that it needs to be planned in advance, firstly so that it doesn’t cause too much inconvenience to anyone else, but secondly so that I can make arrangements and get organised, but also so that I have something to look forward to.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Where do I go from here? – Time for some reflection

18 Nov

I have been doing some family history over the last couple of weeks, but not a great deal and not with any real focus. As seems so often the case I am spending more time thinking about family history than actually doing any family history. Once again I have been trying to decide what I want to do next.

Time and motivation are still big issues in my life. I am reluctant to take on new projects that are going to take a lot of time or require a visit to a record office, because I know it is not going to get completed. I am just going to be left with another unfinished project and another bunch of new entries on my to-do list.

I think it is time for me to step back and look objectively at what I want to actually achieve with my research, and what I can realistically expect to achieve. Are my expectations too high? Am I trying to achieve too much? On one hand I want to push my tree back as far as I can, but on the other hand I also want to understand the lives of some of my closer ancestors (grandparents and great-grandparents) better.

One problem is that I think I am getting overwhelmed by the sheer size of my family tree, not that it is that big at the moment, still under a couple of thousand, but I know that I can never know everything about all of these individuals, no matter how long I live. All I need to do is accept this fact and focus on the ones I do want to know about.

For now though I think I am going to concentrate on some housekeeping, tidying up some loose ends and filling in a few gaps. There are many new collections online now that I haven’t really exploited fully and many documents/images that I haven’t extracted every last detail from.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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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 30

25 Jul

You will no doubt be getting tired of hearing the fact that I have struggled to do any genealogy this week, but that is the case again this week.

I hate to go on about the fact, but I have probably spent more time worrying about how I am going to find time for family history than actually doing any. The good news is that I am starting to get into a routine and I can actually see a way in which I am going to be able integrate research into my daily routine.

I think being organised is going to be the critical factor, that and mobile working. The basic problem is that it takes me about two hours to get to work, however much of that time is spent just waiting. I need to utilise this time better to get more done, whether it is actually family history research, blogging or something else that needs taking care of.

I did a little bit more work on on the BATEMANs of Australia using the new BMD indexes on Ancestry.com.au, but would still like to find out more, so I need to use the dates I have found and see if I can find marriage details or an obituary for any of them in the National Library of Australia newspaper collections.

The rest of this week will be spent trying to fit in any family history research that is possible, probably just filling in gaps and creating more to-do items for when I next get to an archive.

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