A Paper-Lover’s 3 Reasons to go Digital

A Paper-Lover’s 3 Reasons to go Digital

I have had a love affair with stationary supplies as long as I can remember. New notebooks, pens and stationary paper would send me over the moon. I love the feel, the touch and even the smell of new paper. Weird I know.

So what’s the problem? This relationship is no longer making me happy.  I have too much paper, too many notebooks! I have 4 four-drawer filing cabinets and 2 two-drawer ones, which does not include all the paper-filled boxes that have yet to make it into the files! I have so many notebooks, that I initially bought for a specific purpose and end up that I can’t find what I am looking for in them because I can’t remember which notebook or where I wrote it in! arg!

notebooks Pictures, Images and Photos

After attending RootsTech, my eyes were open to new possibilities. As a genealogist who deals with the past it is often difficult to look ahead. Like many genealogist who started before the personal computer age, I found myself with a huge learning curve when it came to anything tech. Everything I learned about computers and tech, I have learned the hard way – on my own and by trial and lots of errors!

Here are my 3 reasons for going more tech for those who are still not convinced and my easy easier solutions:

  1. Save Time! Invest time now in learning the basics will save you so much time in the long-run. Figuring out how a program works on your own does not save time or money! Here are some of the best solutions I have found to get tech-savvy in a hurry.

Solution: Check out Lynda.com. I love it! They offer step-by-step instructional videos with each video step lasting 1-5 minutes on a vast array of computer programs that I can watch at my convenience and review over and over until I get it.
Right now I am learning Microsoft OneNote basics and Photoshop Elements 8 a program that I bought over a year ago and still haven’t figured out on my own! Both of these programs have great applications for genealogists, bloggers and anyone who has things and pictures they need to keep track of.
Yes, it costs money. But unlimited access to all their videos for $25 a month (I can cancel anytime) is definitely cheaper than taking a course offered through a college or other school and worth saving the time and frustration of figuring it out on my own.
Video instruction for other programs that Lynda.com offers that might be of interest to genealogists are: Twitter, LinkedIn, Podcasting, movie making and web-designing with a variety of software providers, and many more I hope to discover.
One I am interested in learning is Microsoft Access 2010 and its applications that I can use for creating relationship tables for examining sources and conflicting data.
I did try YouTube.com and while there are many options for free instruction there, I again found it to be hit or miss and time consuming to find what I needed. You can try it by typing in the name of the program you want to learn like OneNote tutorial to find a video instruction.
I have not received any compensation from Lynda.com (but I would not say ‘no’ if they did! hint, hint Lynda!) for this review. I am sure there are other companies that offer this service, but so far I am happy with the instruction quality, ease and variety they provide. UPDATE: Since I first posted this and in order to have full disclosure, I am now an affiliate of Lynda.com. I decided to become a promoter because I love them so much. Check out the link for Lynda.com on the right panel and get 24 hours free to test-drive and see if you don’t love them too! 

2. Find things you are looking for! How much time do you waste searching for that paper or file where you recorded that hard sought for information?

Solution: tags, which are just subject titles we can add to a document or note to help you find that information again and are searchable.
Another solution is to set-up folders and sub-folders on your computer and flash-drive. When I take my flash-drive with me to do research at the Family History library and I find a document like a census record, I save it in “US Census” folder and then in the sub-folder for the year 1930 Census. I label the Census image with the last name first of the person on that image and it is then saved alphabetically. When I go home I save it in the same folder on my computer and also link it to that individual on my genealogy software program.
Taking time to organize your files, folders and sub-folders on your computer will save you time and tagging information will let that information be searchable and retrievable. Try doing that in your filing cabinet in under a minute!

3. Save Space! Everything you bring into your home and life has a cost – a cost of either time, space, energy, or maintenance. Evaluating the costs to something is the mature and responsible way to deal with things, which explains why it has taken me so long to figure this out! Having so much space committed to all the paper was getting ridiculous. I will still love paper and I will probably always prefer to read a real book over an electronic one. Some things I will still keep both a hard copy and a digital one, but the rest I can get rid of. Wow! That is a liberating and exciting concept.


  1. The smell of new paper is like that of new books. The problem is that the smell of old paper and books is not so lovable.

  2. Thanks for the Lynda.com suggestion and the suggestions for learning OneNote and Access. I think Access would help a lot. Or at least using a statistical database like JMP. I tried OneNote a few years ago and really liked it a lot but just couldn’t get it to work like I wanted it to. I think the problem I had was going between computers. But Dropbox might help with that now.

  3. Great suggestions! I’ll have look into it more thoroughly. Thanks for sharing

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