Stay Focused on the Research You Start
Posted on Apr 11, 2012
It’s very easy to start researching one line and become interested in another and change direction, all in a matter of a few minutes. Soon one is surrounded with papers, documents, hundreds of names, dates and locations and a swirling head full of questions. As one respondent stated “As soon as you find yourself driving 60 miles to some archive on the off chance of tracing the descendants of some fourth cousin twice removed you should stop and ask yourself "why?”
You will find your research more productive if you clearly identify your research goals, develop a research plan and focus on their completion. The following are a few ideas for keeping your research on track and manageable.
Focus on specific sections of your genealogy at a time. This can include
- A specific family line or surname.
- A specific time and place.
- A specific family unit.
- A specific question to solve.
Once you have focused a specific area to research, create a log to help you develop a big picture of what you have and where you want to go. Keep the log up-to-date, it will save you time and energy. Note when and where you viewed the information. The log can include but not be limited to:
- Who you have talked to and information provided.
- Information you have found and citations.
- The questions you still seek answers to.
- Thoughts of where to research.
- The answers you have found.
- Ideas and assumptions you are making and why.
Keep an action list of “to-dos,” a plan as to what research you seek to perform. Organize the plan so the most important research gets done first. Often one finds when they focus on top priority research, many other action items are completed also.
Group your action items by the source/web-site you will use to conduct research.
Create a future research file. As you are conducting your “focused” research, you will always come up with ideas of research you want to conduct that are outside the focus of your current area. Write it down, whether it is an idea, a paragraph, print out, photocopy etc., and put it in the file and forget about it until you are done with the task at hand. You can then go through the file at a later date, organize your notes and start the next task. Don’t be surprised if you begin doubling your accomplishments.
Keep track of your progress.
Reach out for help as you need it.
Having a hard time finding time or spending too much time doing research? Schedule time with yourself to conduct your research. Make your appointments start and end on time. There is something about a deadline to keep you on track.