Every once in awhile, I discover that I have a few free minutes with nothing urgent to do.  (Obviously, I don’t consider laundry or dinner to be urgent…)  I usually click over to Ancestry.com. I guess that I’m hoping that some new “shaky leaf” will appear for one of my ancestors that will lead me to some great discovery for that family.  What I’d much rather have is a plan for times like this.

I obviously can’t carry all of my files with me everywhere unless I load everything onto some flashdrives.  But that doesn’t lend itself to quick researching in 15-20 minutes chunks.  And it wouldn’t help me at all if I’m sitting in the car waiting for my kids to finish a sports practice or meeting of some type.  I’d like to have a compact method of keeping essential notes along with a place for jotting down things I’ve discovered during smaller “chunks” of free time.

Things I could do in a 15 minute “chunk”:

  • Read an article in a genealogy magazine.
  • Read through family notes I’ve created and make a list of questions to research.
  • Make a plan for blog posts for the week.
  • Do a Google search for historical information on a county I am researching.
  • Do a Google search to determine where various genealogy records are located.
  • Make a list of microfilms available at my library or at Salt Lake City.
  • Add the microfilm titles to a timeline showing what time period the records cover.
  • Begin a new blog post.
  • Take a look at a new web site I’ve read about in a blog or magazine.

So I’m developing my own genealogy planner that I can pick up at any moment and have something ready to do. The goal for the planner tasks will be to do everything I possibly can to find resources to examine and to prepare for “full day” researching on Saturdays.

The first portion of the planner is obviously the calendar section.  Each tabbed section has a 2 page calendar for the entire month and I plan to use those pages for keeping track of regular family events as well as to make a plan for future blog posts.  No more “Oh yeah, today is Tombstone Tuesday!  What do I have?”  I want to have a clear idea of what blog topics I’d like to post for the week so that I can be writing ahead.  I bought a refill of weekly planner pages as well – 2 pages per week with large, blank rectangles for each day.  I’d like to set aside 15 minutes each day to read through notes for a family I’m researching and then write down the questions I have, writing 1 or 2 only per rectangle. As I search for answers to these questions, I can add resources that I’ve checked or further ideas for places to look.  If I write these questions in my planner, I’ll be able to use unexpected, small “chunks” to research what resources are available to help me answer those questions.  Perhaps one of these ideas will be something I can check on during an unexpected “chunk” of time later that day or week.  At the end of the week, I can create a longer research list for my “big chunk” of week-end research time.  The goal for this section will be to break big research questions into manageable pieces that I can work on in spur of the moment, unexpected free time.

To be ready to do quick research, I need a compact method of keeping track of what I’ve already gathered.  It is not unusual for me to be doing a lunch time Ancestry.com “surf” and finding a record that might apply to an ancestor’s child’s spouse and wondering if I already have that in my file – or if it’s even the correct person.  Is this Charles Smith the husband of my Annie Jones?  For this, I’ll need someClassic Planner sized forms and a way to keep them organized.  I’ll start posting these forms on “Working It Wednesday”!