Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Day 28: Organize Your Research Goals

In episode #373 of The Genealogy Guys Podcast, Cyndi Ingle talked about thinking of your end goal. The point is that we often spend a lot of time working on things without considering what we are trying to accomplish. Our sense of what we are doing and why may be too vague. When we begin a new year or a new quarter, it's an ideal time to consider and reconsider what we are working toward.

If you're a new genealogist, you might have one very simple goal. You might be trying to identify all of your 8 great-grandparents, or you might be wanting to work on a particular surname line to take it back as far as you can go. If you're a more experienced genealogist, you might have a few brick walls that you want to focus your time and energy on. Choose a goal that is appropriate to your skill level, so that you won't be overwhelmed, but that is interesting enough to keep you motivated to complete it.

Yes, it's fine to have more than one goal, but be careful not to have too many. When you have too many goals, you'll be switching your focus between them so often that you won't make any real progress on any of them. I would suggest no more than 3 goals per quarter. At the end of the quarter, you can see if you're still interested in all 3 goals, and if not, swap one or more of them out with a new goal.

Research shows that we are more likely to reach our goals when we write them down. Put your written goals somewhere that you can see them every day, such as on a whiteboard or a piece of paper pinned to a corkboard. Or use it as your computer's desktop background. In this way, you'll have a little bit of extra motivation each time you sit down at your computer to do genealogical research. You'll be less likely to go off on tangents that won't help you achieve your goals.

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