Time Management for Genealogists


Are you as crazy busy as I am lately? Do you feel overwhelmed by the sources of information about genealogy and family history (blog posts, press releases, Facebook, Twitter and now Genealogy Wise!)? Do you also put pressure on yourself about the lack of posts at your blog (or blogs) or the fact that you have over 500 blog posts to read in your Google Reader?  And what about genealogy research which is basically the most important part of all this to most people? When do you ever find time for that?

Take a deep breath – relax – all will be well. What you are experiencing is very normal, even for people who think they are experts at social media and genealogy.

So how do you cope?  Here’s some tips and a call for your input on how you deal with information overload:

  • You are not the only one. Look at some very good recent posts by fellow genealogists such as Researching, Blogging, Social Networking, and Finding Time by Greta Koehl at Greta’s Genealogy Blog.  Judging by the comments it isn’t just Greta who wonders why she has not time for research what with all the various ways of getting information.
  • There is way too much information out there. Do you realize that in one day we receive more information than our ancestors 150 years ago could receive in one month?  Realize that you can’t possibly digest and mull through everything to then spit out blog posts or incorporate it into your genealogy research.
  • Drop the guilt. Gena Philibert Ortega’s recent post Finding Time To Do Genealogy at Gena’s Genealogy is a good look at how one genealogist and blogger deals with the issue.  The lack of time can often be a perception problem and also invoves prioritizing your time.  I love it where Gena says, “You can clean the house til it is spotless and it will still get dirty tomorrow, especially with kids! So think about what you can cut out or cut down on.”
  • Keep a journal. I think following Randy’s Seaver’s practice of tracking his genealogy research and blogging activities (as well as others) at The Geneaholic is a great way to figure out where the time goes.  Much like that admonition your doctor keeps making about keeping a food diary (yeah, right!), you don’t need to post about your daily activities but you’d be surprised to look back and see how much you actually do or don’t do when it comes to genealogy in a given day.
  • Opt out. Just because all the other genealogy kids are joining a new site like Genealogy Wise doesn’t mean you have to.  See Bill West’s post Not That I’m Trying To Be Anti-Social at West in New England and you’ll see it is okay to just sit back and not participate.  Don’t let peer pressure convince you to join a site or a project which you perceive as a “time sucker.”
  • Quality not quantity.  Your time is yours and you are the only one who can decide how to spend it – and to which genealogy activities (on-line and in-person) your time should be devoted.  Don’t feel guilty about not having recent posts to your blogs or that you don’t have as many as other genealogy bloggers.  Get away from “the numbers game” and realize that a) your blog with all its surnames and research info will still be out there on the Web for others to find, b) a quick note to your devoted readers about needing a “time out” will make sure they check back in a few weeks and c) it is summertime (at least here in the Northern Hemisphere) and the living is easy and busy.  While having lots of posts and lots of traffic to your site might sound good, if the quality content isn’t there to keep people coming back, you are truly squandering your time.

So what’s your current genealogy time management dilemma? Do you have any tips for other genealogists and genealogy bloggers?

©2009 Thomas MacEntee

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