I have an 8 x 5½ genealogy planner.  I spent a lot of time selecting a planner cover that looked professional so that I could take it with me anywhere and not have to worry about looking childish (as I am very often drawn to bright colors!). I ordered pages in a design that I find beautiful and that bring me a feeling of nostalgia. All of this to “draw” me to the planner. I love to hold it and to flip through the pages. Because I am so drawn to it, it motivates me to keep it organized.

I have a very specific format for my pages and I’ve created many templates specifically to fit in my binder. In short, it contains all of the information that I have on a family without actually having copies of each document. I love my planner.

I take the planner with me to the library and on any trip that doesn’t allow me to bring my full sized binders or when I might be without internet – such as in the car or at my mother’s house. Whenever I have free time – even if it’s sitting in the car waiting for a family member to finish an appointment or sports practice or just relaxing at the park on a pretty day – I can flip through my planner and try to read things with a fresh eye and make a list of questions or research plans. I have research logs, group sheets, chronological notes, lists of resources, research questions, a page for each resource researched, etc.

I’ve been working on updating all of my files. Making sure every file has been removed from flash drives and download folders and placed into my Google Drive. The files have been renamed according to my naming convention as they have been transferred to this “final destination”. Today, I’m trying to update a “to do” list based on notes that I’ve written to myself in the planner.

I’m trying to consolidate all of the notes I’ve written and lists that I’ve made to put them onto the forms that I’ve created so that I can get them into the planner with the organization method I’ve come up with. But what I find is that my notes are confusing to me. And I always feel like I’ve been soooo thorough while I’m writing them! Ha!! Lots of lists! Lists with check marks, lists with things crossed out, lists with stars and circles – but very few indications of what the lists ARE. I can tell if they are lists of pages from an index to look at in a book or if they are scans that I wanted or that I’ve scanned, but how about an occasional TITLE? What book did the index pages go to? What what I looking for? What could I NOT find? What film did I scan? Did I move those scans to the Google Drive?

So I’ve decided that I need a specific format. Often, I email myself from the library giving a short description of what I was researching and what I found or didn’t find. So if I were to always include the date on my notes/lists, I could look for the email from that date and that would help me to know what questions I was specifically trying to find. If I include the title of whatever I was looking at (this seems like quite a DUH!) then I would probably save myself from a lot of reworking. And if I would take a few seconds to just indicate on my note where the files or photocopies were placed, that would save me from looking for digital files that “I know” I’ve scanned, but can’t find.

So I’m going to put a reminder in the front cover of my planner.  Date – Resource (film number or call number) – Location saved. Surely, that wouldn’t be so hard! And it would save me some frustration when I’m trying to consolidate things.

No great genealogy revelation here. Just a motivation to myself to do it.

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