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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

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.