Genealogy Do-Over – Week 4, Cycle 3: 24-30 July 2015

The Genealogy Do-Over - Week 4 Topics: 1) Managing Projects and Tasks and 2) Tracking Searches

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Previous topics in the Genealogy Do-Over:

[Editor’s note: Much of the text below is unchanged from the original Week 4 posting on January 23, 2015 except for my personal updates.]


Topics: 1) Managing Projects and Tasks and 2) Tracking Searches

Can you believe it is the fourth week already of the Genealogy Do-Over? While I have a full plate with running my genealogy business, I’m enjoying the time I set aside each evening to work on my own Do-Over.

Luckily, the topics covered this week aren’t what I would call *essential* and some participants may want to simply continue with Week 3 topics of conducting research and tracking research.

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Managing Projects and Tasks

For several years, I was employed as a project manager handling technology deployments to over 3,000 employees. An example: making sure that every computer was upgraded from Office 2003 to Office 2007. This involved months of planning and dealing with 17 different offices across the globe. You can imagine the need to track tasks and make sure they were assigned to the appropriate person and completed in a timely manner.

When I started my own genealogy business, I transferred my project management skills to my new career and developed an Excel template to track my work. Here is a brief video on how my system works:

Here is the link to the Excel template for your own use:

So how is this different than the Research Log? I use the Project Management sheet to track “large” and “over-arching” projects like “Research and purchase a new genealogy software program” or “Purchase archivally-safe photo boxes.” Give it a try if you find yourself unable to keep up with various projects or forgetting where you left off on a specific task.

  • What I Plan to Do: I will continue to track all my tasks and especially note how much time I spend on them. I estimate my time in 15 minute increments. It is interesting to go back and take a look at the end of the week or month and realize how much time I devote to certain tasks. This type of analysis and feedback can help you realize the need to change habits and work on improving efficiency and productivity.
  • “All-In” Participant Options: The use of a project management system is optional.
  • Modified Participant Options: Those doing a “Go-Over” or review of their existing genealogy research may benefit the most from a project management system. Tasks such as “Organize vital records in binders” or “Review SMITH family research for source citations” are easily tracked and marked off when done.

Tracking Searches

Now this is the topic where you say to yourself, “Now I know Thomas is crazy . . .” I thought so too when I decided to test this topic in 2014. But I swear it has helped my genealogy research.

The premise: Each time you enter search criteria in an online search form – be it a Google search or search, track it. There is actually a worksheet tab in the Research Log template called Search Attempts where you can enter data. So what do I track?

  • The Date I performed the search.
  • The Website where the search was used.
  • Notation of a specific Database where the search was performed, if applicable
  • Type of search (this field is becoming less relevant over time and I may just remove it)
  • The Criteria used for the search, i.e. “AUSTIN John Ralph birth” or “Last name = AUSTIN, First name = John . . .”
  • Results is where I add the URL link
  • And I enter my analysis or thoughts about the search in the Notes

And why do I track searches? One reason: I can take the search criteria I use on and see what results I get over at MyHeritage or at FamilySearch. Another reason: Very often new records are added to a record set or a record set is re-indexed. It pays to return to the record set and repeat the search to see if new records are found.

  • What I Plan to Do: Continue tracking my searches as time permits.
  • All-In Participant Options: Consider tracking your searches. Take a minute and enter three searches – perhaps the ones you do most often. See if tracking the searches and entering a link for each search can save you time.
  • Modified Participant Options: This topic may not be relevant since many doing a Go-Over are not actively researching, just reviewing and editing current data.

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I hope you are not only learning new skills as part of the Genealogy Do-Over, but also seeing improvements in your genealogy research results. And get ready for next week when we discuss Source Citations!

Next Week: Week 5, Cycle 3 – 31 July- 6 August 2015

  • Building a Research Toolbox
  • Citing Sources

Thanks for being a part of the Genealogy Do-Over and your feedback is always appreciated. You can leave a comment on the blog post at GeneaBloggers, email me at or post at the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook Group.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Are You “Winning” When it Comes to Genealogy?

GeneaBloggers and MyHeritage have put together an amazing 50% off promotion to help you WIN when it comes to your genealogy research.

What is your definition of “winning” when it comes to your genealogy?

Recently, a very wise (and well-known) genealogist told me this: “The search for your family history is a marathon, not a sprint.” I’ve been reflecting on those words all this week, and here’s what they mean to me:

  • I need to prepare myself for a long, worthwhile journey as I research and discover new finds.
  • I need to “stay in shape” as a researcher and make sure I am consuming the best websites, resources and tools.
  • I am making an investment in my family history, with every dollar and every hour I spend researching.
  • I need to have a positive, winning attitude.

Are you in it to win?

After years of being a technical trainer, working with mostly older adults, I know that “attitude” trumps “aptitude” when it comes to winning. I always told my students that I’d rather work with someone who had a good attitude towards learning and trying new things yet knew little or nothing of the subject matter. Every once in a while I’d get stuck with a “know it all” who supposedly knew everything and was just a Negative Nellie. They dragged down the entire class and sucked all the enjoyment out of learning.

My belief when it comes to doing genealogy: You’ve got to be in it for the long haul, you’ve got to have a positive attitude, you’ve got to know your resources and options, and you’ve got to be in it to win. Otherwise, why bother?

50% Off MyHeritage – Supplies for Genealogy Winning

50% Off MyHeritage – Supplies for Genealogy Winning

If you are ready to be one of the genealogy winners, click here to get your 50% off deal from MyHeritage. The normal price is $238.00 USD and you’ll pay just $119.40 for a full year’s access to MyHeritage Premium Plus AND the Data Membership. PLUS 5% of what I earn goes back to fund projects in the genealogy community!

I’ve found myself using MyHeritage more and more instead of my $300 Ancestry World Subscription, especially with some of the “New Ancestry” issues. I get access to newspapers from (that’s a $198 value all by itself!). I get alerted to new finds through Record Matches and Smart Matches. And now with the new Global Name Translation™ technology, I’m getting even more leads to win! ACT NOW! THIS OFFER EXPIRES JULY 31ST!

The Genealogy Fairy is a genealogy-focused grants program working to make family history dreams come true!

Don’t Forget! A Percentage of Sales go to The Genealogy Fairy!

While I started the concept of giving back 5% of my affiliate income to the genealogy community in April, I’ve decided to not only include ALL of my affiliate income going back to the start of 2015, but also to just count affiliate revenue, which means it is calculated BEFORE expenses such as Mail Chimp, etc.. Right now that means there is over $1,500 in The Genealogy Fairy™ fund for genealogy society projects, community indexing projects and more!

Read more about The Genealogy Fairy™ here and on August 1, 2015 I’ll announce how individuals and organizations can apply for a “wish grant” from The Genealogy Fairy™!

Update: The Genealogy Fairy

The Genealogy Fairy is a genealogy-focused grants program working to make family history dreams come true!

Back in late March 2015, I announced a new concept as part of my genealogy business: The Genealogy Fairy. For 2015, I have seen a huge increase in business revenue related to affiliate marketing (where I receive a percentage of sales made via Amazon, MyHeritage and other vendors). I wanted a way to say “thank you” to those who continue to support my business and believe in what I do to improve the way we search for our family history.

What Is The Genealogy Fairy™?

My original commitment was to set aside 5% of affiliate income (after expenses like MailChimp etc.) for some type of grant program. These grants would be awarded through an application process and fund genealogy-related programs. Since the original announcement, I’ve decided on two fundamental changes:

  • I will fund the grants based on REVENUE not INCOME – meaning whatever I get paid via affiliate marketing, not after deducting expenses. These expenses would include Mail Chimp, Facebook ads and any other items used to promote my offers.
  • I will include ALL of my 2015 affiliate revenue, not just from April 2015 going forward.

This means that the current funding for The Genealogy Fairy™ grants is approximately $1,500!

Who Can Apply for a Grant from The Genealogy Fairy™?

The Genealogy Fairy™ grants are open to all genealogical and historical organizations, especially non-profits, and to individual genealogists who seek to fund specific projects related to genealogy and family history. Examples include:

  • Indexing projects or record preservation efforts led by organizations and/or individuals.
  • Genealogy society events such as workshops, conferences, and webinars.
  • Business and entrepreneurial launches, especially genealogy-related startups.
  • Publishing projects for organizations and individuals.
  • Continuing education for individuals in order to build specific skill sets. This includes attending a genealogical conference, application fees for certification, etc.

Application Process

The application process begins on August 1st, 2015 and the first grant will be awarded in September 2015. Applicants will complete a basic form online and all applicants will be notified of receipt of their application. If more information is required, The Genealogy Fairy™ will follow up via e-mail.

Selection Process

Selection decisions are final and are based on the merit of the project/cause, the qualifications of the organization or individual, and are made solely by Thomas MacEntee of High-Definition Genealogy.

Selection Announcement

Those selected to receive a grant from The Genealogy Fairy™ will be required to submit a brief marketing bio and photo for publicity purposes.

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Stay tuned for the announcement of The Genealogy Fairy™ application process on August 1, 2015 right here at GeneaBloggers.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.