New Years Resolutions: Putting Your Goal In Action
So now you have set a reasonable goal, or re-worded your initial goal to be more reasonable. Something with a start and a finish, or a timeline so that you can find the inspiration and drive that you need to be successful in your goal. Now, I’m not saying it’ll be easy. . . but at least you are track to really get this thing done!
Here are some general family history goals and how to look at accomplishing them. First, it’s important to identify why you want to do it at all. It sounds elementary, I know, but there will likely be times, if the goal is big enough that you will be wondering why you signed on to doing it at all, that’s when procrastination gets a foothold. Procrastination will wear down your resolve as well as your chances of actually completing a goal, it’s one of your very worst enemies.
1. Write my Family History. You have the research in piles all over the floor, of course you aren’t nearly done with your genealogy project, but you also realize that if anything were to happen to you, those stacks of records you’ve dedicated endless time to collecting would probably hit the garbage heap faster than you can say “rolling over in my grave”.
Why it’s important: It’s important to put your research into a format that other people can appreciate. While there is a chance that there will be someone who will understand the importance of the work you’ve done, it can be more widely appreciated, reproduced and enjoyed if it is put into a book format with an easy to follow narrative.
How to Keep to Get ‘er Done: There is of course the obvious solution of hiring a professional. Of course, if you’ve already done all this work and you want to tell the story in your own words then read on. Obviously I can’t cover the technique of writing your family history all in this sub-section of a blog post. However, here are some tips to help:
(1) break it down – if you attempt to write the history of your entire family for the past 300-500 years you are bound to get overwhelmed.. what to cut, what to leave in… etc., etc., no one ever said it had to be all in one book. Start with a family, or just a few generations, or even one person specifically. Figure out what inspires you and write that, if it isn’t enough to fill an entire book you can go back and add more topics afterwards.
(2) Do your research – there are tons of books you can use to help you decide how to capture the essence of your ancestors without shoving words in their mouth.
(3) Make it a part of your schedule. Write it in your planner.
Again, I feel like I’m short selling this advice, but their simply isn’t enough room to devote to this topic. But the key here is to just keep breaking it down into bite-sized chunks that you can accomplish easily. Then bit by bit you will be able to get it done.
2. Make Digital Copies of Documents. After that horror story on the news about the recent house fire/flood/etc. maybe you got to thinking that you should take steps to preserve your family information.
Why it’s important: Documents, photographs, newspaper articles, it can all be irreplaceable. You never know what might happen, even if you are able to avoid a major disaster, sunlight can cause pictures to fade, paper to yellow and moisture and pests are constant threats.
How to Keep to Get ‘er Done: It can seem completely overwhelming. First, there are document scanning services, with the highest quality software and equipment at their finger tips. This is something to consider, especially if you don’t have a lot of computer skills or you have an out of date scanner. If you have some experience and a reasonable scanner – you can find decent software for free on download.com. Paint.net is an excellent comprehensive option. The most important thing to bear in mind here is to keep everything very organized. Trust me – it will not benefit you to have your entire desktop covered in “DSC00349329″ files when you have no idea what they are.
Come up with a naming system, something short and easy for you to figure out and name every file as you scan it. It does not have to be edited or cropped or perfected right away. Just scan- name- file. Your system will depend upon what works best for you as well as what types of documents you are scanning. (An example of lay out might be Surname>Patriarch>Family Member>Year; whereas for a file name you might consider filing Jenny Johnson’s obituary from 1932 as JJ1932Obit using initials date and a few letters to describe the type of file. I recommend avoiding spaces or symbols as much as possible in order to allow files to be used on the Internet, blogs and websites prefer file names that do not use spaces.
There are a lot of other things to take into consideration, such as using online back up tools or transfering the files onto discs or portable hard drives. As well as the types of files that you could save the images on. Of course, all of this is a matter of personal preference and a lot of information is available throughout the internet to help you to make those decisions.
What new years resolutions did you make in 2011? How are they going so far? Any tips to offer on how to chip away at achieving them?