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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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7 Tips to Maximize Your Genealogy Time

This week I have something a little different. It's my first guest post!

Earlier this summer I was completely overwhelmed and my health was even starting to suffer.

I'm in a business mentorship this year and one of my fellow program participants is an efficiency expert and productivity coach and she was able to MASSIVELY help me. I got all caught up and the rest of the summer went so much better (good thing, it has been a crazy busy summer and the rest of the year looks to be the same).

Why do you care if you're not a business owner?

Occasional Genealogists have to be efficient.

If you want to do more genealogy, you better get things done and that includes in life, not just genealogy. My friend Judy Dang from Avid At Work has seven tips for boosting your efficiency.

Here are Judy’s tips for how to work smarter on your genealogy projects.
  1. On Sunday evening, write out your top 3 priorities for the week. Too often we try to pack in too much. Then we feel dispirited. If you can get through your top 3 priorities, consider that a big success, especially if you’re also juggling raising family, working full-time, or taking care of a family member.
  2. Get things out of your head. Here’s my YouTube video “Stop Using Your Brain as a Filing Cabinet.” Whatever you use (journal, notepad, an app like Evernote), dump everything out of your brain into that system. Productivity guru David Allen advised, “Your brain is for having ideas, not for holding them.”
  3. If you have a lot of paper, invest in a scanner like the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500. It connects wirelessly to my computer. I can scan using the phone app. It’s super fast and scans double-sided pages.
  4. Batch your tasks. If you have a bunch of calls to make, do them all in one chunk of time, say, 25 minutes.
  5. Work in 25-minute blocks of time. Use the timer on your phone or a kitchen timer and see how fast you can get through your batch of tasks.
  6. Set SMART goals. The key to working smarter is clarity. Get clear on what you want to accomplish by setting SMART goals. Make sure your goals meet all five criteria. S=Specific. M=Measurable. A=Attainable. R=Relevant. T=Timely. For example, “organize desk” is not a SMART goal. Too vague, not specific, and certainly not measurable. Revise that goal to “Spend 20 minutes Friday after lunch to toss/recycle papers no longer needed.”
  7. Create a genealogy toolkit of supplies you use most often. Put them in a box so no one else in your family uses them. That way when you have a few minutes to work on a project, you have all you need at your fingertips. This saves time and mental energy so you can get working right away.
Judy Dang is a productivity coach and founder of Avid At Work, based in San Francisco. If you enjoyed these tips, check out Judy’s website and sign up for her monthly newsletter filled with practical tips for working smarter. When not helping clients achieve their goals, Judy is on the trails near Ocean Beach or making yummy pies.