Sunday, January 03, 2016

FINALLY Get Organized! Jan 3rd-9th 2016 Checklist and Myrt's confession

It’s a new year again. Already! Did you accomplish what you wished last year, genealogically speaking? Many of you have been working the Genealogy Do-Over system to sort through research challenges, but let's talk about the state of your filing system, your bookshelves, your research toolkit, and the stuff you've inherited (if you are lucky!) Maybe some of you are in the same boat as Ol' Myrt here. It seems there are too many "should-have-dones" on my 2015 To Do List. Let's not let those old, unfulfilled promises keep us in a muddle. 
This is the checklist of things to accomplish this week. By the end of the year, we should have just about everything of a family history nature organized. The car maintenance, housework, laundry and yard work will go to pot -- but then, who's perfect? Just order in Chinese, and Let's Get Organized!
  1. Clear off the computer desk and make piles for everything. Hopefully, you were wise and took Ol' Myrt's suggestion in late December. If so, you are ahead of the game, but this one definitely bears repeating each year, as those papers somehow manage to pile up. Then, we move things over to make room for more photocopies, a new scanner, and then, ouch! What a mess things get into!

Make five basic categories:

  • To Be Filed
  • Letters/Email to Write
  • Research to Do
  • Photos - For now put all the photos in a box, a suitcase or a dresser drawer. We will tackle them later. 
  • Books
  2. Check your office supplies, and replace any missing or lost items, so you will have all the necessary tools to keep yourself organized. Here are some suggestions: photo safe pencils and pens, SD cards and flash drives, top-loading sheet protectors, insertable 3-ring binders (so you can insert spine labels and cover art pages), oversize divider tabs (so you can see the dividers in a binder full of those oversize sheet protectors), toner or ink jet cartridges, and printer paper. As I've been typing this week's checklist, Ol' Myrt here has ordered some of the Gaylord Archival Flip-Top Document Preservation Boxes. Check out more of Myrt's Favorites here.

Though you may prefer to go strictly digital, you will have to consider archiving precious, one-of-a-kind original family history photos and documents. Except for special over-sized items, I believe insertable 3-ring binders are the way to go, but...

I've got a confession to make. Years ago, I made a mistake purchasing white insertable 3-ring binders when I should have chosen black. Why? Quite simply because after about 30+ years, those white binders are looking a little grimy. Sadly this is true to a lesser degree for rarely studied binders left sitting on my shelves.
IMAGE: Licensed by Adobe Stock.

  3. Setup your computer desk and office the way you really want it! Get that new mouse pad and matching wrist rest, a copy stand that hooks on your monitor, and the special lamp you've always wanted. Fix the wobbly chair leg or get a new ergonomically-designed desk chair. Ol' Myrt here wants you to be as comfortable as possible at the keyboard!  We’re going to be typing in lots of notes for each ancestor as the year progresses.

NOTE: Digitally-oriented genealogists may wish to add a second or third monitor. I gave you the sneak peek yesterday, but here are the details on that nifty portable monitor on the left. It is USB driven and was recommended by Dick Eastman. Cousin Russ and I use this third monitor every day. It's an AOC E1649FWU 16-inch LED LCD Monitor

Got books? Consider getting a new shelving system. If you are like me, I remade a guest bedroom into my computer room years ago. I managed to fit in three bookcases quite nicely. With two or three, you'll be set for organizing those must-have genealogy books and the essential surname notebooks we will be creating. I've visited some nationally-ranked genealogy bloggers and presenters' home offices, and discovered we have one thing in common -- we all seem to like the IKEA Billy bookcases, usually without doors. Maybe we're personally keeping IKEA in business?

  4. Designate a special red clipboard as the "When Computer Help Arrives" clipboard. Scribble notes here when you run into computer problems. This will your brain from worrying until your computer nerd friend stops by to fix the problem! 
NOTE: Digitally-oriented genealogists may wish to color code their Evernote files and folders to accomplish this, using advice from:
Affiliate: Amazon
  5. Designate a special green clipboard as the "Genealogy Challenges" clipboard. It's hard to concentrate on solving a research question when you are juggling several other genealogy conundrums in your mind. Outline the basics of the problem, and trust you'll get to the other challenges one at a time.

NOTE: Digitally-oriented genealogists can make this a colored computer folder using advice from these resources:
  Young Henry here has a BRIGHT IDEA for all, whether you choose the digital or paper method of organization, you still need what he and I call a "quick store" method.

For this method, you'll need a place like Henry's toy box, where he can quickly hide things when his mom says he must clean up his room before dinner.
Of course, we'll be just a tad more organized. We are adults after all.
Ol' Myrt has used a United Solutions-Organize Your Office OF0046 Snap & Lock File Box for years. I keep it right in the the knee hole of my computer desk, so it reminds me of work yet to be done every time I sit down. I first created a hanging file folder for every letter of the alphabet, so I could quickly store any papers from a recent research trip. After each trip, Ol' Myrt here does have to help open up the house, unpack, and check my email. This "quick store" file box keeps the paper stacks off my desk. And this is also where I plan to go next to digitize the documents and attach to the appropriate ancestor in my genealogy management program before I forget. Citations? Of course! I need to know where I got those precious papers.

 And one more BRIGHT IDEA - Open up an Amazon Prime account. I've had things like wheelchairs and even an inflatable hot tub delivered free of charge. And the price for the item was not inflated to make up the difference. Ol' Myrt here wouldn't steer you wrong. I've had all my printer paper shipped here, and those boxes are heavy. Now with Amazon Prime's streaming audio and video, the value gets better every year. 
That's this week's FINALLY Get Organized! Checklist. It wasn't that bad, was it? Ol' Myrt here knows you've been itching to get some bright new sticky notes, and rearrange that computer desk. Now go for it!

Want to Hangout?
We will be discussing this week's checklist during our Mondays with Myrt hangout. Here's the link to register using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Now everyone can view and comment. With my new hangout interface, you only need a Google account if you want to appear as a filmstrip panelist.

Here's the link to the calendar of other upcoming DearMYRTLE genealogy hangouts:



    Hangouts: Pay what you want. So it's simple. If you value the work Ol' Myrt, +Cousin Russ and our beloved panelists do week in and week out on your behalf, please:

    Check the DearMYRTLE Hangouts Calendar for upcoming study groups and hangouts. There you'll find links to the GeneaConference (in-person) and the GeneaWebinars Calendar with over over 200 hours of online genealogy classes, webinars, live streams and tweetchats from other hosts and presenters over the next 12 months.

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