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I'm Jennifer, and I'm an Occasional Genealogist... sort of. For over ten years I've been a professional genealogist. I started researching my own family nearly 30 years ago. Like many of you, I started as an Occasional Genealogist. I had to squeeze research in while in school and while working full-time. Then I got my first genealogy job and for awhile, it was genealogy all the time. Now I have two kids. I do other people's genealogy constantly but my own? Coming up with ways to do great genealogy, despite all the interruptions, is now mandatory.

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More Genealogy Lists for Occasional Genealogists

Happy Winter Solstice. It's the shortest day of the year so I'm thinking about shortcuts and quick tasks I can do. A quick way to start is with a list.

I'm still working on that bullet journal concept I mentioned a few months ago. I have a really hard time putting unrelated items on consecutive pages and the appeal of a bullet journal is not having preset sections. However, I'm still loving the idea of using bullet journal "collections" for genealogy (in other words, keeping lists of genealogy "stuff"). You can keep your list wherever and however you want.

The suggestions in this post are inspired by genealogy resolutions and planning for the New Year. I'm a huge fan of not limiting resolutions to January but I often find mentally setting a date to start resolutions helps. This can let you plan (or procrastinate) for a SHORT time and still get that warm fuzzy feeling of kicking off some new phase of your life.

Below are three more genealogy collections to consider. I think the second and third could be pretty long lists (maybe you'd like to sub-divide them) so three is more than enough to keep you going through the cold dark winter.

Collection 01


Yeah, that's what you think it means. I'm going to try and write a post listing my genealogy resolutions for 2017 to try and be a little more accountable. Now I'm accoutable for that! You're welcome to comment with your genealogy resolutions once it's up, no matter what time of year it is. I'm not going to give suggestions here because my resolutions are still rather nebulous and I need to finish this post, first!

Collection 02

Top Projects to Make Great

OK, that title is probably not what you're going to call your list of this type. The tag line of this blog is "Do great genealogy, despite the interruptions." Great genealogy involves following tried and true processes and methodology. I've just found you need to tweak the traditional methods for both Occasional Genealogist needs and 21st century-style research.
This list should be the projects you are most interested in but need to "improve" in some non-research way. I would make a list for the different types of things you need to do. Consider making this a process rather than listing the same project on multiple lists. You can adapt this how you want but here are my suggested lists.

  • projects needing the research log updated
    (yes, I've retroactively entered log information, better than no log information but make sure it's accurate, say from your notes or an old handwritten log you are now digitizing)
  • projects needing a report before continuing
  • projects needing a research plan before continuing
  • projects needing a summary
  • documents needing correlation
  • documents/projects needing analysis
  • deeds needing mapping
These are suggestions. You could probably list every couple in your direct line or every single project on many of these lists so figure out what would be reasonable and HELPFUL for you. The point is not to just make lists. The point is a quick list you can take action on or a place to record something you will forget, otherwise.

Collection 03

Templates/Forms to Create or Update

I love using templates (since I work digitally, I use "templates," not forms). Genealogists tend to love forms so no surprise. That love of forms can be a total time-suck, though. Feel free to go crazy creating your LIST of ideas. Then think about what will really help you work better and faster. You can also skip the crazy long list and just make a list of what will be best for you, whatever benefits YOU the most. Here are the things to think about to decide if you want to create a form/template.

  • What do I know I need to do (for great genealogy) but struggle doing (ex. keeping a research log)?
  • What task would be faster with a form (ex. recording citation parts, especially repeatedly used ones like a census)?
  • What task have I been unable to find an existing form for or an existing form that works for me?
  • What have I done in the past that has been helpful/successful?
  • What have I forgotten to do in the past that caused a problem (think especially about things that weren't a problem immediately but later)?
  • What do I dread doing?
  • What do I have no problem doing (this can include equivalent non-genealogy tasks, you're looking for solutions that you can apply to genealogy)?
Now read this next suggestion carefully, otherwise I'm going to be in trouble.

TIP: You can absolutely swipe an existing form and make it your own AS LONG AS YOU DON'T SHARE IT. That means share it for free or sell it.
Some people think they can take an existing form, change it, and share it as long as it is for free. There is a very gray area with something like a form. Some forms are so basic and obvious, any tweak makes it unique to you and perfectly OK to share. Some forms are so unique you're almost never going to "tweak it" and have a right to share it. The rest falls in-between. I can't tell you where the line is.

If you're worried about this issue, you can copy a form and adjust it however you want as long as only you use it. I have some Evernote templates I love but I don't share because they are just an Evernote version (with minor tweaks) of forms/ideas from lectures I've attended. The creative idea behind those forms is not my intellectual property and therefore not mine to share. The speakers shared the information so I could PERSONALLY use their ideas, though.

Don't recreate the wheel (a form in this case) because you're worried about plagiarism. As long as you are the only one with the tweaked form, you can save yourself time by just making some personal adjustments instead of a new form. If you're afraid you'll forget and share it, make a note at the bottom to remind yourself. It's helpful to have a note on tweaked forms telling you where the original is, anyway. Then you can go back to what you clearly thought was a great idea, and see if you can glean more inspiration, later.

The Occasional Genealogist Resource Library is full of forms for personal use (and that extends to personally using them when doing research for others, free or paid, just don't share the actual form). If you want to share something from the Resource Library, you should have the person sign up to get their own access. If you tweak one of the forms and are wondering if you have the right to share your version, just email me and ask.

Now that I've gotten off track about usage rights, let's review the genealogy lists I've suggested in both this post and my previous post.
  • Actionable Projects
  • Research Tasks
  • Education
  • Places to Visit
  • To Save For
  • Simple Questions
  • Resolutions
  • Projects to Make Great
  • Templates/Forms to Create or Update
Have questions about or suggestions for genealogy lists? Leave a comment.