9 Tips for Genealogy Success in the New Year

Genealogy Success

Are you ready to reap greater rewards from your genealogy research?

Oh my gosh, me too!

With the New Year right around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot about my family history research goals for 2015.

I need to answer pressing questions, overcome brick walls, make new discoveries and connect with more cousins. With that in mind I developed a 9 Step Genealogy Success Program:

  1. Clean your genealogy files.
    Multiple 30 years of research by 30 reams of copy paper and you get an idea of what my file cabinets looked like. I hope to give my labor of love to a descendant someday, but let’s face it, if the files are a mess they may refuse to take it! I’ve been working through a process to streamline, store, and easily access my genealogy records. This process has already made a world of difference in my genealogy research. I’ve been sharing details with you in Fun with Genealogy Files.
  2. Set a goal for each direct line surname.
    Chances are I don’t have FOREVER to work on my tree, so I’d better focus on what I’d like to know about whom and get that search actively underway. Having a specific goal in mind helps focus my research and keeps me on task when something shiny tries to distract me.
  3. Update your online family trees.
    Connecting with cousins is one of my favorite genealogical endeavors, yet my online tree was the last place I would update information. Then I read this article. Wouldn’t you love hearing from someone who wanted to give you a box full of family treasures? Let’s make it easy for them to find us.
  4. Regularly schedule time to work on your genealogy.
    Real life often trumps hobbies and family history research is certainly no exception. But I find the farther I get from my tree, the harder it is to climb the branches! Doing even a little genealogy consistently made a big difference. I have 15 minutes each weekday blocked on my calendar for genealogy. It’s amazing what can be accomplished in 1-1/4 hours a week. When real life cooperates, I can play with my ancestors even more on weekends.
  5. Choose tools that are right for you.
    For my genealogy files, I prefer 1st position manila folders stored in Pendaflex hanging files. My family tree is housed on Family Tree Maker. My surname goals are listed on the Genealogy at a Glance Excel spreadsheet that lives on Dropbox. My online tree is on Ancestry dot com. My 15 minute a day list is in a spiral notebook. I make liberal use of Outlook Calendar and Office 365 and I’m an unabashed fan of David Allen and Getting Things Done. Your tools may be similar to mine or completely different. That’s not important. What is important is that the tools you choose make it easy for you to do what you set out to do.
  6. Create and follow a genealogy class schedule.
    Whatever our goals, learning about the new resources and techniques available will make our research more productive. There are hundreds of genealogists out there who are experts in areas as yet unknown to me. Make a promise to yourself to read a genealogy reference book, attend a genealogical conference, watch a webinar, and/or register for a class online soon. Some of my favorite teachers include: Lisa Louise Cooke, Michael John Neill, and Ancestry’s Learning Center.
  7. Rub elbows with other genealogists.
    What fun it can be to talk with other addicts family history researchers! Sharing troubles and triumphs, chiseling through brick walls, cheering each other on, and guiding each other toward helpful resources turns a sometimes isolated hobby into a fun-filled group activity.
  8. Form a Genealogy Success Team.
    Many thanks to my friend Jenny! We have been meeting virtually (i.e. long distance) once a week for years. Our friendship has blossomed, our family trees have grown, and our genealogical knowledge has expanded. I know my tree wouldn’t have nearly as many leaves without Jenny in my cheering section.
  9. Create public accountability.
    In addition to being accountable to my genea-buddy each week, today I’ve shared my plan with you to answer pressing questions, overcome brick walls, make new discoveries and connect with more cousins in 2015.

I hope my steps will inspire you to set your own goals for the new year!

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