Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Dealing with the accumulation

If you do genealogy full time (or even part time) it is easy to drown in accumulated paperwork, journals, emails, obligations, general disorganization etc.  Here are a few tips.

  • I belong to several societies that have monthly or quarterly newsletters/journals. I used to toss them off to the side vowing to read them later but instead they just piled up and I was missing out on some great information. I now read the journal the day it arrives and if there is something I think I need to keep I scan the article and stick it in Evernote.  I then toss it.  I have switched some over to electronic versions which saves me a step.
  • I receive hundreds of emails a day. I have three email addresses; my regular email, my work email and an email just for DNA stuff.  I have “rules” and folders set up in MS Outlook for all three accounts so that my mail is automatically sorted.  Even so, I used to let the emails pile up.  If they are shoved in a folder where you can’t see them it is okay, right?  I now deal with my email immediately and either trash it, act on it, or archive it (Evernote).  By the end of the day my folders are empty and I can start off fresh the next morning. It took me a long time to get to this point.
  • I know that everything is electronic these days but the one thing I still need to keep on paper is my calendar/planner.  I LOVE the Uncalendar.  Their website does not do it justice.  I suggest you look on YouTube.  There are several good videos showing how the Uncalendar works.  I use Pilot FriXion pens in lots of colors with my Uncalendar. These pens are 100% erasable and work great.  They use heat sensitive ink so I wouldn’t put a blow dryer to your calendar or put it on the dashboard of your car in the summer. I keep track of everything in my Uncalendar, to-do lists, project schedules and updates, meetings, short term and long term goals etc.
  • At the end of the day I make sure my desk is cleaned off and the books I pulled off the shelves have been put back.  When I start work the next morning it is nice to have a clean desk/office.  It only takes a couple of minutes and this one simple thing has had a big impact on my attitude when I start my workday. Every couple of weeks I do a complete cleanup (the dreaded vacuuming, dusting, cleaning monitors and keyboard etc.) I pull as much out of the office that I can so that I can wash/wax the wood floors.  It is a pain but I do so much better when I am working in an clean and organized environment.
  • I am usually working on several projects at a time.  I keep the projects in these boxes.  They hold standard 8.5 x 11 paper. They stack nicely and I label them using colored masking tape and Sharpies making it easy to change the labels as needed.  I just counted and I have 13 of these boxes.  Hmmmmm, unlucky 13.  I might have to buy another box.
  • I have a small bulletin board (cork) next to my desk. Post-It Notes stick to it without having to use pins.  I use this to keep up with my current projects so that I can monitor my progress.  I also put notes up for things that are urgent. I keep the bulletin board up-to-date and neat.
  • This one has nothing to do with accumulated stuff but it has increased my productivity exponentially. My computer has three monitors.  I operated with two monitors for about 10 years but I went to three about a year ago.  The more the merrier!
  • Make sure you stay stocked up on everything you might need in the way of office supplies, things like printer paper and ink, batteries for your wireless keyboard and mouse, etc.  Nothing is more frustrating than to have to stop right in the middle of what you are doing to deal with a missing supply.  I am an office supplies junkie so this is rarely a problem for me.

So what tips do you have?



  1. What additional technology did you need to support 3 monitors? A new video card?
    what's your best tip for using the three - e.g., what apps do you keep on which screen?

    1. My son-in-law rigged it for me. I am not very techno. I do know that he said that there are two video cards on this computer. Two monitors are running off of one and the other monitor is running off of one.

      Right now I have April the Giraffe on my left monitor, I have Legacy's Bug Tracking program on my middle monitor along with Legacy itself and I have the Legacy support ticketing system on my right monitor. I am working but I am on my lunch break :)

      When I am doing research I have Legacy on my middle monitor and the internet on the right monitor. I leave the left monitor open in case I need to park something there.

    2. Thank you, Michele. The two video cards is the answer to my question. I have been coveting a 3-screen setup. Two is wonderful, but three would be awesome!!

  2. I completely agree with you about a neat work space. I also tidy up at the end of each day. I absolutely hate piles and avoid them. As to the emails. I have 5 email accounts for various reasons. Only 3 of the 5 have a clean inbox. Even though I have folders in each email account, I have let too many just sit there. I always read the ones I need to and delete others each day, but somehow I have too many. This is my goal during April. To completely empty each inbox and keep them empty.

  3. Great tips Michele! Thanks so much for sharing these.

  4. Great tips!!! And, I am checking out some of the links. Piles of papers and hundreds of emails sitting in my inbox definitely drag me down. :( I need to get control of this situation so I can work more efficiently and more peacefully! Thanks again!