Monday, February 27, 2017

This Month's Roundup & Reflection

 This February has been both productive and frustrating as the first of the month started out with a painful back and leg that turned out to be sciatica, a first for me. I usually heal rather quickly from any strains and pains, but this is a whole other ballgame - painful and limiting. I have to say, as one who tries to find the positive in any given situation, there is a silver lining of sorts, the opportunity to dig in deeper into my family history... which I love.
Although I work in some aspect of my research each day, sometimes it is difficult to find the longer hours needed to accommodate the more complex projects that seem to require an endless time-frame.
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A year ago, I was able to correspond and establish a relationship with precious relatives in Cuba, after decades of restrictions between our countries. It is marvelous to be in communication and establish a deeper bond between our families, which I know my late mother would have been ecstatic after so many years apart due to circumstances not in any of our control. My cousins and I share a profound love of family and desire to keep our families connected. Oh how I would love for us to be closer geographically. It has also brought a link between us in our search of our genealogical roots, which has been awesome.
As a result, for the first time, I have been able to further our family research. It really is one small piece at a time but I am thankful it is moving forward despite the ever changing directions as I go. So far, I have discovered two new surnames to add to my family tree and new locations to research. Happy dance time...I'm so thankful for any discovery.
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This month, I viewed a few educational DNA webinars by several excellent DNA teachers such as Blaine Bettinger, The Genetic Genealogist... on Legacy Family Tree  and I was so inspired by Diahann Southard as she shared her own personal journey with her Mother as she spoke about 'The Glue That Holds Families Together' at  RootsTech.  Diahann, has done many lectures on the subject of DNA and has shared her expertise on the subject in several webinars on Legacy as well.

As a result, I am currently reviewing and setting up my own tracking system as I apply the  suggestions by the experts. There is such a variety of spreadsheets and forms to choose from that I hope to assemble a few that will work best for my needs to keep track of my DNA results and other kits that I am currently waiting on results from testing companies.

I believe this will be an interesting year and an exciting road ahead as I continue to persevere on my journey, interjecting DNA results with my research as I learn, study and review comparisons and document my progress along the way. Most of all I want to share this process with those who are new in any aspect of family history research and encourage others to not give up or get discouraged in their own endeavors... there are ebbs and tides and sometimes we just need an extra little nudge in the right direction.   πŸ—

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Year 2017- Reset Button - New Projects....

Here we are, another new year and an opportunity to press the reset button and begin anew as we set new schedules, routines, projects, and new research assignments, all in the hopes of becoming more organized and more productive in our personal and professional lives.
As the holidays and 2016 came to an end, I began my annual evaluation of personal and genealogical goals and assessed any new mechanisms I might use to achieve those goals.

As long as I can remember, I have always been a calendar and goal-oriented person, and throughout the years, I have used several types of planners to keep track of a multitude of ever-changing details. There were not many out on the market in the early 1980's, unlike today, where there is a wide variety of options.

One system that I relied on was Daytimer.  I would refer to it as my piece of mind on paper.
I found there was something soothing and therapeutic about writing ideas and plans down and creating a 'To-do' list, which of course lead to checking those items off the list when completed, giving a sense of accomplishment.

I tried several of their yearly planner versions. The first consisted of a month overview with a 2-page per week format and additional pages for projects and running to do lists. Another was the 1-page per day format with a monthly overview and extra pages as well. I found both to work well for many years.

Then, about 10 years ago, I heard about another system called Planner Pads and decided to give it a try.  It is a three-part calendar system that helps you organize tasks and projects into categories, then prioritize and schedule daily activities, project categories and appointments.

I enjoyed this system and found it helpful in managing and keeping track of current projects; however, I found myself re-writing the same information over and over from week to week when I was unable to complete certain tasks. As a result, I created a separate page with projects, 
breaking them down into more manageable components and entering them as scheduled tasks. 

After the recent holidays, I decided to try the Bullet Journal after seeing several posts from DearMyrtle, who was using this method and chronicled each step as she assembled her own Bullet Journal. I was intrigued by the process and really didn't know much about the system, but as I watched her wonderful posts and video on her blog, I thought I would give it a try. I have added the links to her posts which include Parts 1-8, and if you scroll down her page, you will see 2 videos about bullet journaling that I think you will find helpful. DearMyrtle Bullet Journal, Part 1 

As I researched further, I also, found another wonderful blog called  Boho Berry by blogger Kara Benz, on how to set up a bullet Journal including one using a Filofax. She also has several instructional videos on YouTube, such as  Filofax Bullet Journal Setup , which I found to be very helpful in setting up my own Filofax, which I decided as my binder of choice.  She gives a thorough overview of the types of covers, pages, pens, etc., and I was inspired by her own beautiful and creative pages.  

I decided on a Filofax as my Bullet journal because of the flexibility of moving and adding pages as needed.
In addition to my Planner section, I have a Collections section that I use to place all my routine lists, chores, etc. Also included is a Projects section for Home projects and a Genealogy section for all my Genealogy research projects.

I use these only as an overview to track genealogy projects. However, for details on each project, I use my computer spreadsheets which are also accessible through all my devices. This eliminates the continual re-writing of same information as well as the ability to track and search information as needed.

I use the Daily Task Tracker to log all repetitive daily tasks, and the Time Log to track Personal and Work hours for the week and month, which I then enter into a Weekly and Monthly Pie Chart. I use Google calendar and create many of my own digital lists since I appreciate the ability to search and re-arrange on the computer.  So I am still testing and tweaking as I go and using the best of several methods as I work. The beauty is that you make it work for you by making it your own, as you like. 

Overall, I think the Bullet Journal is a beautiful and creative expression for anyone who has an artistic bent or is simply creative at heart. I like the simplicity of the true Bullet Journal, where you use a Notebook with an index at the front and continually move forward in the notebook, but for my needs, I like the flexibility of the Filofax.  

My priority as I began this process was to learn the set up, and how to use the system without it becoming a time-consuming project in itself. After all, I felt it would defeat the purpose to use a system that required a lot of upkeep or repetitive writing of information from week to week. 
My goal is to streamline the workload and prevent things from falling through the cracks. 
Diminish distractions from the overall goal -- to study, learn and become more productive and proficient in Genealogy, helping others, and using DNA in my research and break through any of my numerous brick walls.  :):)  And of course, commit to writing about my family history, life and research experiences as I go along. It's been too long and life is too short to worry about writing everything perfectly. We can only aspire and work towards excellence realizing that perfection will halt any of our forward progress...  we are only human, after all. 

Hopefully, 2017 will bring us all new opportunities to help one another, be more productive and successful in breaking down our brick walls, advancing our family history research and best of all diminish the family gaps by discovering unknown extended family -- new cousins.  :) 🌎

Copyright © 2017 Marilyn Poole /The Genealogy Gap