The new school year is about a week and a half away and as usual, I have an overwhelming desire to have a “fresh start”.

I want to go through my closet and get rid of clothes I never wear and organize my new “school clothes” for the new year.

I want to go through all of my school files and toss and/or reorganize the paper files as well as my digital files.

I want to get out in my gardens and trim and cut my perennials (which are really hurting in the drought!) and split and rearrange them so they will be better off next spring.

AND, I want to go through my family tree database and clean it up! This is BY FAR the more overwhelming project! I’ve always had a hard time keeping my computer database up to date. I really prefer to just keep everything on Ancestry. But I see a real value in my computer database and I just upgraded to FTM 2012 specifically because it will sync with my tree on Ancestry. But it didn’t take me long to see that I’m missing pieces of information that I should have included. So now, the desire to go through each person and check those citations and add digital images and detailed notes is kicking in BIG TIME.

How can I do this in an organized manner that would not require huge chunks of time that I do not have? I can say I’m going to look at 1 person each day, for example, but how do I do that and not lose my place? There are 776 people in this branch of my tree, but they aren’t all equally researched. Should I concentrate on the individuals in my direct ancestor 5 gen chart and go numerically? Begin with my mother, then her father, then mother, then paternal grandfather, paternal grandmother, maternal grandfather, maternal grandmother, etc? Or do I modify that and work in family groups? My mother’s parents along with all of their children, then each grandparent group? If I choose that, how far down do I go? For example, I can see working on my grandparents and each of their children, but when do I work on THEIR children and grandchildren? What about the ancestor with 14 children? My mother had an uncle who had 28 children for heaven’s sake!

And what about source citations? I’m happy to have the citations as they are automatically downloaded from Ancestry, but if I want to follow Evidence Explained, should I delete all citations and start from scratch? Or modify each citation as I come to it?

After years of upgrading FTM over and over, I have some pretty strange things in the files. Notes for images that became citations of some sort. Names of children that became AKA’s for some individuals, etc. At one time, when there was only one “Notes” section per person, I had loooooong notes for each individual that were basically a timeline of events in their life. I had a note for EVERY item I could find for the individual – tax records, mentions in court records, etc. as well as questions and ideas to follow up on and those notes are totally gone from the program (but not from my computer). Should I try to put those back in?

I’d LOVE to do a totally from scratch type of thing, but is that realistic? It could be a FANTASTIC opportunity to really evaluate what I have and what I need and update my research plan and put together a “to do” list for each person, but it’s difficult enough to find “normal research” time, so would this become a project that I begin to resent?

Perhaps, I should keep my current file as a “working file” and begin a fresh file that begins from scratch. Am I shooting too high? I tend to start these grand projects which later get shelved when reality hits…

What do you think? Any suggestions?