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The Ultimate Organization Cheat Sheet for Genealogists

Does it feel some days like you are buried under a pile of papers?  Do you worry if you start organizing it could eat away days, weeks or months of your valuable free time that you could otherwise spend researching your family tree?  

I get it, I've been there. But it doesn't have to be that way forever.  I've created a printable cheat sheet to break down your organization into small easy to accomplish, bite-sized tasks that will help you start to get organized and stay that way once you get there.   

Wondering how to get on the track to a more organized life? Well, wonder no more.

Weekly:  On a weekly basis do these three things.

  1. Mark Your Papers.  As you work, mark your papers so you can easily identify where you will need to file them.  In our Historical Research Planner: Filing Pack we include small color coding labels that are meant for this purpose.  You could also write a surname to further break down your papers into individual file groups you will eventually place them in.  
  2. Sort Your Papers.  Once a week, sit down and sort your "To File" pile so that it will be easy to file everything in one short sitting.  Arrange them in the same way that your filing system is arranged.  If they need to be 3-hole punched to go into a binder, separate them by binder the order you will put them in.  If you have a file cabinet where all of the files are color coded by family group, alphabetized by surname and chronological by family member - organize your papers in a way that will make putting them into these files as quick and easy as possible. 
  3. File Your Papers. Now that you've taken out a lot of the leg-work, use one day each week to put your papers where they belong so they will be easy to find in the future.  

Monthly:  On a monthly basis do these three things. 

  1. Keep Your Binders Relevant.  Binders should include only the papers you need easily accessible because you are currently working on them.  Each month go through and decide what needs to stay in these binders.  If you haven't worked on a particular project in a month or more these items probably need to get taken out of your binders.  
  2. Move Your Papers from Binders to Filing.  The papers you took out of your binder still need a home, start new folders in filing or put them into the folders they belong in.  
  3. Move Bulky or Grouped Files into Boxes. When you notice your filing system is getting a little cramped, it may be time to move your less active files into boxes.  Another way of making space is to move grouped files into boxes.  What does this mean? It means you can use your biggest categorization - For example, in our system,  you might break down your filing system may be COLOR-CODING > SURNAME > FAMILY GROUP > INDIVIDUAL - so to begin with you would make four boxes, one with each color, then put the coordinating color in that box.  As your research grows, you may need a box for each surname.

Yearly:  On an annual basis do these three things.

  1. Update Your Labels.  Go through all of your filing and make sure that everything is labeled appropriately.  Replace labels that are falling apart, or that reflect out-dated information.  If there are files that are big and bulky and could be broken down further into smaller sub-folders do this now.  
  2. Index Your Boxes.  When everything is where it belongs, create indexes so that you can find the information quickly and easily.  This will become more important the more information you amass in your research.  Start with boxes, and place the completed index in the front of the box or on the top if the box isn't used often.  Make two copies of the index, one that goes inside the box, and another to be kept in a "master index" which you will file to keep track of all of your boxes. 
  3. Assess Your System. The best system is one that works.  Look at how you are organizing your information and the process you are using to keep up with organization.  Is it working for you? Could it work better? Tweak accordingly and come up with a plan for the following year. 
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Did you like this information? I put it together in a printable so that it would be easy for you to keep somewhere visible for a reminder.  

Get your free copy now!

How do you keep organized?  What strategies work for you? Let us know in the comments!

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


If you liked this post you may like these products from our shop: 

Book Release & Planner Giveaway!

It's here! Today is the day! The release of my first ebook: The Purposeful Family Historian.  This book has been a long time in the making.  I truly can't wait for you to read it.  To commemorate the release and because I am so excited for the upcoming launch of the Historical Research Planners,  I am holding an AWESOME giveaway! Make sure you read to the bottom of this post for details on how to enter!

I believe that genealogy and family history are more than just a quest for filling out the family tree. But rather that they are an experience which is founded on purpose. 

What drives us to dabble in family history research? Is it because we love history? We love our family? We're crazy masochistic introverts who love spending long hours banging our heads against the keyboard when we run into brick walls? It's because we we feel, deep within us, a sense of purpose calling us to be the story-keeper for our ancestors. 

Using research from multiple disciplines ranging from psychology and self-improvement to project management and business skills, this book guides you toward identifying the sense of purpose which called you to family history and leverage it to have more fruitful and meaningful research time.

 

I want to thank everyone who took the time to give me feedback and encouragement as I have been working on this project.  Over 100 of you helped me to choose the cover art, alone!  You could practically call this a community project! 

To thank you all for all your help, I am very excited to announce a giveaway!  If you don't know what the Historical Research Planner is, go here to find out more

ComingSoon HRP.png

These are the very first images of the Historical Research Planner packs (with more down below), and I am so thrilled to give you the first peek at the culmination of about two years of hard work, testing and perfecting!

  1. The Calendar Pack - to help you set goals, break them down into tasks and schedule them for increased productivity and focus.
  2. The Genealogy Pack - with forms to organize your entire family tree while keeping everything color coded for efficiency and organization. 
  3. The Filing Pack - has everything you need to file your whole project, utilizing coordinating color-coded box labels, file labels and binder tabs and more.  

Here is the exciting part: I am giving away three complete bundles containing ALL of the goodies from each pack! The total retail value of this bundle is $99.97! PLUS, if you are one of these three lucky winners you will get yours before anyone else does! 

Are you a genealogist or family historian? How are you purposeful in your family history research? Tell us in the comments!


Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


FREE Printable Workbook to Preserve Your Memories

There is something truly magnificent about the human experience and the way events are synthesized with our senses.  It is for this reason that interviewers often use photographs when talking to their subjects, to help draw out memories that are long buried.  

If you have been wanting to work towards documenting your own personal history but haven't weren't sure where to start, this is may be the perfect place.  

This Photo Memories workbook uses easy prompts connected to photos to help evoke memories.   It has a week long program to get you started in memory journaling using photographic prompts.  

Whether you are struggling with writers block in unlocking your own story, or you want to use this book to help start a dialog with someone you love like an elderly parent or  grandparent, this book will give you the foundation to use photographs as a tool to document your own personal history. 

 

 

The best part?  It is totally 100% free to subscribers of our e-mail list.  In fact, that's the only way to get it! 

If you haven't already subscribed  do it now and get your copy instantly!

Already have your copy? Has it been any help? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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