Genealogy in 30 Minutes or Less

Until I retire (or win the lottery), I have only short bursts of time during which I can play in my genealogical sandbox. That can be frustrating, especially after a particularly successful hunting expedition.

Take this past weekend for example. ArkivDigital offered viewers their Swedish databases for free from Friday to Sunday evening. How can one pass up an offer like that? I hadn’t worked on my Swedes for quite awhile and my Success Team to-do list held other tasks, but c’mon – the site was free for the whole weekend!

I set aside my plans and happily scrolled through two solid days of Swedish parish records looking for Åmans, Clarins, Landstroms, Petersons, and Tolfs. Print; save. Print; save. Rinse and repeat for 48 hours.

Monday morning dawned bright and early. The sun streamed in through the windows and landed on a tall stack of pages I had collected over the weekend. That’s when reality reared its ugly head – how could I possibly process these new discoveries with my enormous backlog of previous discoveries and an already-too-full schedule?

After a few days of feeling frustrated at my inability to clone Samantha Stephens, I created a Genealogy in 30 Minutes or Less game. The rules are simple:

  1. Divide a large pending task into multiple 30-minute segments.
  2. Prioritize the list (or stack) of 30-minute segments.
  3. Choose the first 30-minute segment.
  4. Set a timer to ring after 30 minutes and plan to STOP the moment the timer sounds.
  5. Ready…..begin!

My first Large Pending Task was to organize the new parish records I printed over the weekend. I had wisely (or so I thought) labeled them with record dates and county names. One folder contained Jönköpings län. When I viewed the first image I realized I couldn’t tell at a glance which of five families from this county the page contained. Ugh.

So my first 30-minute segment became setting up computer files for the images from ArkivDigital. I created a folder for the surname of each immigrant ancestor et al. Et al because Swedish naming practices involve adding your father’s given name to your given name to create your surname. For example, Maria – the daughter of Peter – would be known as Maria Petersdötter. Peter’s father was Lars making him Peter – Lars’ son – or Peter Larsson.  Maria’s ancestors in Sweden will have many different surnames, so putting those ancestors in Maria’s folder will make them easier to find.

I’m not sure how many images I can correctly identify in 30 minutes or less. But by working on just one sheet of paper (or one computer image) at a time, I will finish something each day that will give me a tiny sense of accomplishment.

Although I will continue to wiggle my nose. Just in case.

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