Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Family History Month - TO-DO ITEMS

~Today's prompt is brought to you by the letter T~

How do you keep track of your to-do items?  When you are busy with actual research or you are reading through your research, how do you make note of documents you need to look up, certificates you want to order, emails you need to send, follow up telephone calls, or books, articles or journals you want to check out?  Do you keep track of these to-do items with your genealogy computer program, a handwritten note system or some combination of the two?  Does your current method work for you?  Are you able to filter your to-do list by individual, respository or task? 

Today think about your to-do lists.  If your system works great, if it doesn't work for you think about how you can tweak it to make it work.  The easiest system is to have a form (I find this works best for my research log and my to-do list).  Once you get in the habit of filing out the form it becomes second nature and you will have all the information you need on the form when you have the time to work on your to-dos.

At a minimum your to-do form should include the following:
  • Individual's Name (RIN and MRIN if you use that numbering system) and any additional personal information you need in order to do the task
  • Task - a brief description of the task that needs to be done
  • Locality - the actual place where the to-do item can be researched
  • Status - the date you start and finish the to-do item
  • Results - a place to write out the information once you locate it
Legacy Family Tree (and I imagine most of the genealogy software programs) has an excellent to-do function that is easy to use and can filter and print reports based on repository, individual, task, or particular type of to-do.  If you are consistent in adding information to your to-do list, when you have the opportunity to go to a particular library, archive or the FHL you have a report of items to look up ~ a good to-do list definitely makes your research time more efficient so try to get in the habit of using to-do lists.

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