I have too much to do. There’s not enough time in the day.
Lies. All of it.
A little self-analysis recently has revealed that I’m (subconsciously) sabotaging my own genealogical education and research goals.
I saw Kenneth R. Marks’ blog post about time management. Some of the tips he mentioned really hit home for me. So, I’ve added it to my arsenal of self-analysis tools.
Here’s what I’ve decided:
1. I need to figure out what I want to do, when I want to do it, and what steps need to be taken to get it done.
2. I need to prioritize all of those things I want to do.
To accomplish step one, I created a Word document that looked a little something like this:
Once I sat down and began figuring out exactly what I wanted to accomplish and what was getting in my way, I had an epiphany.
I am a time waster. There. I said it.
There IS enough time in the day. I simply lack focus on the things that I NEED to do.
Most of the things that occupy my time aren’t necessarily frivolous or completely devoid of any value, but the fact that they don’t get me any closer to accomplishing my goals makes them time wasters in my book.
Among these items:
- Facebook and other social media (this requires absolutely no explanation)
- Blog reading (I subscribe to nearly 300 blogs. Probably 90% of them, while entertaining as they may be, do not actually enhance my personal genealogy research)
- Various and sundry apps for my iPad/Android (I waste more time trying to make the “latest and greatest” apps work for me, when they don’t. Not even a little)
- Webinars (I love webinars. Seriously. Unfortunately, most of the webinars I attend do not relate to the research I’m doing right now at all)
- Free Kindle ebooks.
So … the question becomes: How do I stop wasting so much time?
Social Media Quicksand
First, my intent is to spend far less time on Facebook and social media in general (we’ll see how that goes – I might need a 12-step program). While I enjoy the give-and-take in the many genealogy groups on Facebook and Google+ and find the information incredibly interesting, most of it doesn’t apply to anything I’m currently researching.
Next, I am thinning out my blog subscriptions. The first eliminations will be those blogs that require me to visit the actual blog to read the entire post. Granted, it’s just a click or two, but it interrupts the flow and they’ve just gotta go. From there, it will simply be a matter of whether a specific blog applies to my current areas of research. I can always add them back later (and will probably keep a folder of bookmarks for specifically that purpose). I hope to whittle my subscriptions by at least half.
An App a Day?
I have already begun deleting apps from my phone and my iPad. While a lot of them are incredibly useful in their own way, they are in my way and must go. For example: Pocket, Phonto, Wunderlist, Flipboard on my Android phone. Penultimate, Springpad, Phonto, and Feedly on my iPad. I will continue to use Feedly, but only on my computer. It takes too much time for me to scan through blog posts on the app. I’m not saying these apps aren’t worth having … trying to integrate them into my workflow takes more time than it saves.
I’ll admit it. I am a webinar junkie. I like to know stuff (apparently whether it pertains to me or not). Unfortunately, each 1-2 hour webinar that is irrelevant to my research is 1-2 hours time I could devote to accomplishing my goals. It’s time to be a little pickier about the webinars I attend.
One day, the free Kindle ebooks will be my downfall. Sure, they’re informative and/or entertaining, but like most of the blogs and webinars I discussed above, they simply don’t apply to my research currently. On top of that, there have been a few (which I will not name) that have absolutely baffled me (do you HAVE an editor? A spellchecker?) and I end up proofreading instead of absorbing. Seriously. I spent my entire flight to New Jersey marking up an ebook that (in my opinion) should never have been published. That was 2-1/2 hours I could have spent working on a research plan or something.
The Boob Tube
Ahh, television. My nemesis. TV shows have become like blog posts. I need to thin out my subscriptions. Currently, I have my DVR set to record numerous series (Bones, Criminal Minds, Elementary, Rizzoli & Isles, Castle, etc. – is anyone else seeing a pattern here?), not including the WDYTYAs and Genealogy Roadshows. And eventually Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones will start back up, so there’s that. I need to narrow this down to one hour per day, or less if I can. This also might require a 12-step program because all of those shows are really good. But they distract me from my genealogy goals, and if I’m going to be serious, I need to get stricter with myself.
The thing that takes the most time away from my research is my full-time job. Unfortunately, there is no way around this (at least until I win the lottery), so I’m simply going to have to figure a way to make the most of my time outside of work (and maybe a little time inside of work!). When it all boils down, I spend roughly 10 hours a day (including travel) on work. One of those hours is mine for lunch (and really, have you ever tried to research for one hour and then stop?). Plus, I kinda like to eat.
I usually try to go to bed around 11 p.m. That leaves me with roughly 4 hours a day (if you subtract time for dinner) to work toward my goals, provided no one calls, there are no bills to pay, no society meetings, nothing to clean, and no animals to feed or cuddle. That never happens.
The weekends are a different story. Usually, my entire day is open to whatever I want to do. And that’s where the trouble starts. I need to start making a schedule for myself for the weekends, and actually stick to it. I probably ought to include some time to spend with living folks too.
All told, I should have roughly 15 hours during the week and 15 hours on the weekend to spend on tasks that move me toward accomplishing my goals. I spend almost that much time working for someone else … why is it so stinkin’ hard to do it for myself?
Clearly, my goals for 2014 will be far different from my goals for 2013. And if I can stick to my plan, I might actually be able to accomplish some of them!
Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com
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