Big Changes They Are A-Comin’

Time

Courtesy of Creative Commons

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:

goals worksheet

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:

  1. Facebook and other social media (this requires absolutely no explanation)
  2. 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)
  3. 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)
  4. 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)
  5.  Free Kindle ebooks.
  6. Television.

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.

Blogiverse

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.

Webinars

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.

The Kindle

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 J-O-B

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.

What’s Left?

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.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Courtesy of Creative Commons

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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16 thoughts on “Big Changes They Are A-Comin’

  1. Totally sympathize with you , Jenny …………………..working on my time wasters too.
    One of the things I did was narrow my blogs to read down to email format for just my favorites to read while I eat lunch , and the rest , I skim through , late at night , on my kindle if I cannot sleep.
    The same with doing Facebook too. I allotted certain times.
    My FHL center has been missing me so I will get there more now which forces me to research, work harder.

    • Good ideas, Magda! I think the hardest thing I will have to do is learn to say “no.” Even to myself. I might even have to resort to a timer for things like Facebook. You know, like kindergarten. LOL

  2. I can so totally, completely, relate! I am in the same boat although my major time suck seems to be student teaching and the little work I have left (working as a nanny once/twice a week). When I’m not student teaching or lesson planning or working with the kids, I often need a brain break and end up just surfing Facebook while watching pointless TV.

    So I’ve started accepting that for the moment, my blog will not get many posts, my genealogy research won’t happen very often, and I won’t be scrolling through microfilm very often. And just forget about making it to Santa Monica or Downtown LA for the bigger libraries…. the time and brain energy just doesn’t seem to be here anymore.

    • Elyse, I totally get it. Sometimes you just have to let things go until you are ready to deal with them. Unfortunately, I’ve been doing that for too long, so now it’s time to put on my big girl panties and start getting stuff done. We’ll see how long I hold up :)

    • Thanks Laura! That first step is a doozy, though, right?

      I feel so lucky to be part of the genealogical community where we can all be inspired and supported by one another.

  3. I like the idea of goofing off with social nets/blogs during lunch at work. Let me guess, you don’t always take lunch!
    I also can recommend putting your genealogy into the blog, in any way you like. Those research plans would make great blog posts and help people, and serve as cousin bait.
    I suspect your plans will be self-enforcing because as you delve more consistently into your OWN stuff, it is of course addictive. I mean, if genealogy isn’t addictive, you’re probably gathering too much stuff you don’t want to do under the genealogy umbrella.
    If your goals include getting through some stuff for your future, that’s good, but don’t let that replace the fun of your own research too much.

    • You’re right, Diane. I don’t always get lunch. Fortunately, the stuff I’m working on for my future uses mostly my own research … so I can have the best of both worlds in that respect. I also intend to set aside time to work on my own research, along with my cardmaking addiction. I’m in the process of creating a rough schedule that I’ll discuss with my Success Team partner tomorrow.

      Good idea about using my research plans on my blog. I might have to do that!

  4. Diane’s idea is a great one about putting research plans/finds/theories in blogs is a good idea. Even if no one reads it , I will remember where I put it ! I sort of do that with WikiTree sometimes . It’s not blogging but I share my findings as they progress.

  5. Hi Jenny, I totally sympathize and I am in the same spot you are in. I don’t know how all my genealogy friends get away with hanging out on facebook all day long and read and reply to blogs and watch webinars. They act like they are retired or something! Ok, well maybe they are! I too, have a full time job, plus I’m trying to change careers which means I’m also working nights and weekends at my 2nd job, so I have found that I have to manage my time even more tightly. Unfortunately this means I can only concentrate on task oriented research items. sigh.

    Anyways, I commend you for taking the first step which is figuring out what you want to do. I need to do that more often. It allows us to breathe relax and visualize. So go for it! Oh, and while you are at it, will you accept my FB friend request??? LOL I’m hardly on FB too, but realized we weren’t friends anymore so I sent it again so I can follow your blog posts.

    • Sorry about that Ginger … someone recommended (apparently) their entire friends list for me and I got about 300 notifications at one time. Unfortunately, yours got caught up in that. I fixed it :)

      Now … breathe in, breathe out. It’s all about priorities at this point, and we can only do what we can do. One foot in front of the other and all that, right?

  6. What a great post – and so true for me! I mean I seem to have time to play Jelly Splash but no time to work on my genealogy. My biggest problem seems to be FOCUS – even when I take time to “work” on my genealogy I often tend to jump around from one bright shiny object to another and end up accomplishing nothing.

    My first step needs to be coming up with ONE thing and then doing it. I’m so great at coming up with elaborate plans with many steps to accomplish ALL my goals in 6 months – or something like that. Problem is that it’s so overwhelming I never do it.

    • I agree, Diana. Part of my problem is that I’m incredibly motivated to work on my genealogy goals while I’m at work, but by the time I get home I’m so worn out all I want to do is sit on the couch and let rigor mortis set in.

      Once I figure out a cure for that problem, I’ll be so rich I won’t have to work at all … problem solved :)

  7. Such a timely post for me! A newbie to blogging, I’m already falling into some of the same traps you’ve listed. I’m starting to manage my time better, but need that 12-step program you refer to! ;) Gotta get that research plan in motion…

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