Saturday, January 25, 2020

Day 25: Organize Your Routines

The word "routine" sounds so...routine. Routines get a bad rap. We hear the word and think about drudgery or days that never change. But we've got routines all turned around backwards. Routines are our friends, and they can make our lives more interesting.

Keep in mind that genealogy is a mental exercise. It takes a lot of brainpower to focus on our research question, to construct effective research plans and search strategies, to locate relevant information, to evaluate evidence, and to compose conclusions. But if we do everything differently every day and in a haphazard manner, we waste time having to think about trivial things when we need to be using that time and mental energy on better things. Enter routines.

Do you have a morning routine? Do you have a bedtime routine? Do you have a routine for sitting down at your computer and beginning work? Do you have a routine for completing computer work and setting it aside for the day?

What you want to do is to establish routines for all of these things. You can start with a checklist of things that you want to do. Your goal is to make these things into habits and are then strung together into routines. Once you make something a habit, you begin doing it automatically with no need to think. This means things like getting up at the same time every day, engaging in physical and mental activities such as exercise and meditation, and enjoying that daily cup of coffee before you sit down at the computer. This means things like journaling every night before bed in order to get all those random thoughts out of your head so that they don't keep you up at night, followed by going to bed at the same time every night.

Once you build a lot of habits into your daily and weekly experiences, and string those together into routines, you can run on automatic for so much that you can then think about the fun part of genealogical research. Make checklists for your research processes so that they become a regular part of what you do, and discover how much less stress you face going through each step.

Embrace your routines.

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