Genealogy Time Management Tips and Tricks

Genealogy Time Management Tips and Tricks

For some people like moi, trying to manage time is like trying to herd cats.
Each of us has a finite amount of time we can devote to genealogy – whether we are doing research, writing family stories or blogs, documenting family photos, recording family interviews or whatever, we have only so much time we can devote to these activities each day. The amount of time we have for these activities will probably vary depending on our individual circumstances, day of week, time of the year, etc. These tips and tricks will getting started in planning how you use your time more effectively.

  • Evaluate Your Activities. Determine how worthwhile the endeavor is according to your genealogy goal. Is spending large amounts of time on all the social media sites achieving your goal? There comes a time when the Law of Diminishing Returns comes into effect. Are you getting less out of the activity than what you are putting into it? However you’re spending your genealogy time – is it paying off?
  • Saying “Yes” to something, means saying “No” to something else. Are you happy with what you are saying yes to? The path of least resistance is always smooth and inviting – it is easier to squander time flipping between FB, Twitter and now Google+ than it is to do some painstaking research sometimes. Try using your “fun” stuff as a reward after doing some things that are maybe not-so-fun but necessary for x-amount of time.
  • The Pathway to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions –  As genealogists we are taught to begin with a focused goal. What is your intention? Being committed to controlling your time is necessary to being successful in achieving your goals.
  • Make a Genealogy Time Pie Chart – last week many genealogist were inspired by Randy Seaver’s post to create a heritage pie chart. I used the same program to create a pie chart of how I wanted to spend my genealogy time.
  • Avoid “Stereopodidicism” this is a “technical term” according to my father, in which all the iron in your blood turns to lead in your butt! This can be avoided by actually doing something!

    First, I determined what my priorities are in my genealogy time right now. I decided to allocate 50% of my time to actual research, 25% to continuing genealogy education, 12.5% to record management waiting for the stacks of papers and files to reach critical mass is not a good idea and12.5% to social media. It doesn’t matter if I have 2 hours or 4 hours to spend that day, if I stay within those time boundaries, I will be successful in managing my genealogy time for me. This is still under review and I can change it after a time period of a fair trial to see if it is workable or it needs tweeking.
    I also broke down  my social media pie section into another pie chart.
    Social Media for me can be addicting! If I do not control the amount of time I devote to it, it will quickly bleed my genealogy time dry! So these allocations are still in flux, but the important thing to remember is my social media section is to still only to get 12.5% of my genealogy time! So if I have to 2 hours to spend that day on genealogy, I have 15 minutes that I can spend on social media. Is that realistic…probably not, but I want to try it and see. I can be more flexible as I gain more control over my time and my habits.
    Now before you get the wrong idea, I am not anal or a meticulous person when it comes to time. I am the polar opposite. I do function better however when I have a plan and a goal.
    So here is my plan to improve the use of my genealogy time:

    1. Determine ahead of time how much time I have to spend per day and then review it again each night and again in the morning to remind myself how much time I have for that day. Break down into minutes the amount I have for each activity.
    2. Have a timer to begin timing at the start of each new activity. I know this is where I am going to lose many reading right now! Keep in mind that time management and setting boundaries does NOT come naturally to me and I am trying to establish a new pattern. I hope that once it becomes more natural it will require less diligence and oversight on my part!
    3. Record Your Progress – it will be easier to stick with the changes if you can measure the progress and see the results from your hard earned efforts. You will also know where to tweek and make changes.

    “Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!” Anthony Robbins
    Here’s to using our genealogy time wisely and to accomplishing more than we hoped! Would love to hear what works for you in managing your time.


    1. Well, this is a GREAT idea; I doubt if I will be able to follow it, but I do believe it will inspire me in ways to better manage my time with genealogy. So far, I have alternated activities. Do some transcribing, quick flit to facebook, transcribe some more or do a new search, check a blog, etc. It covers the bases, but after reading this post, I’m sure it isn’t truly a good time management plan. Thank you for inspiring me to do better.

    2. Valerie, I love reading your posts! You have terrific insight, and it gives me lots to think about. Keep it up – we need you!!!

    3. Excellent post. And no you didn’t lose me when you brought up the timer. I have used it many times and it’s a great help. I love the pie chart and the whole concept of dividing up your time. I’ll be giving it a try but my downfall is blog reading – that’s where I really need that timer.

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