But even the time that we try to allot to doing research can be eaten up quite easily. Here are 7 tips to get the most out of your research time.
- Have an online plan - although I am a fan of "intuitive" and "stream of consciousness" searching online - that should be only for a short time. Write yourself a research plan - for a person of interest, or a family, or a location. You will get a lot more results and won't be wasting time searching for the same thing over and over again. But make sure you have a "re-visit" plan when new records or collections are added that you might be interested in "re-conducting" prior searches.
- Have an offline plan - if you plan to spend some time at an archive or genealogy section of a library, prepare a research plan BEFORE you get there. Don't just show up with your pedigree chart and hope for the best.
- Get organized - 50 slips of paper with scrawled notes is not going to save you time. It will cost you time since you will always be looking through them. Consolidate or use online apps such as One Note or Evernote.
- Get off of social media sites - you heard me - although they can be useful as part of your education and can from time to time reap rewards in finding new "cousins" - social media can be a huge "time suck." Do you really have to look at your Twitter stream every 15 minutes? And Facebook and Google+ status updates and new posts will be there even if you don't check them every hour. So manage your time spent on social media and you will discover a lot more time for research.
- How many genealogy blogs do you really NEED to read? - some people scan through (and read) over 50 blogs a day. Are you kidding me? I have less than 10 that I regularly read and I don't always read those. And I scan through titles - if it is really interesting I may flip to it and read it.
- Manage your use of social media sites - it bears repeating. Manage this potential "time suck" well and you will have more research time - I guarantee it. Create Twitter lists, Facebook interest groups and Google+ circles for the folks that REALLY interest you regularly and you will save tons of time. Use notifications wisely and you won't be interrupted with a "ding" from your phone or PC every 2 minutes that entices you to look.
- How much education do you really NEED? - For some folks, there isn't a webinar, hangout, or podcast that they would skip. Sure its a good idea to acquire more knowledge, but for me if it gets in the way of research time - forget it. One might argue that increased knowledge might equate to "smarter" researching. True, but make sure that you have the proper balance.
There are plenty more ways to create more research time - but these are the big ones for me. What ways do you create research time for yourself?