I guess I still have research plans and task lists on my mind. I want to discuss one other aspect that I haven't mentioned yet.
I have some lists that I call "Action Lists" for lack of any better name. (If you can think of a better suited name please share!) For me, Action Lists are ongoing, cumulative lists that resemble wish lists. They are divided by repository (archive, library, etc). I maintain one file per location. Not all the research I do is pressing and sometimes the locations are far enough away that I put off the research until I have enough to warrant a trip.
I create Action Lists for places like the Norfolk County, Massachusetts Probate Court, the Norfolk County, Massachusetts Registry of Deeds and the New England Historic Genealogical Society. The difference between these Action Lists and Research Plan Task Lists is that they contain items from multiple projects.
My Action Lists typically contain several columns. The information listed includes such items as name, date, town, file number and project. It helps me to find the information I am looking for and identifies the use or recipient of the information.
Here's a portion of one I created and used this spring (click to enlarge):
As I work my way through pulling the files and scanning or photocopying the information, I check off the item on the list as completed. No there's no specific column for that. I just put a big check mark on the side.
Some of these are rainy day lists. When I have a change in schedule and I need to shift gears quickly, I don't need to think about what I should do. I simply determine where I want to go research and then I print off my in-progress list for that location and get the research done.
Of course, this only works with only non-time sensitive information. However, if I need to rush into Boston for a project, I can toss in the rest of my accumulated list as well. That way I make even more efficient use of my time.
This, clearly, is very streamlined. It's not a plan. It's an action list of items that need to get completed and it allows me to keep track of multiple projects. I know it is a simple list but that's my style. I like to keep things as simple and as clear as possible.
I imagine that all professionals have some sort of list like this when they leave the office to do research in the field. Non-professionals could also use a list like this, particularly if you are researching multiple family lines. Instead of listing a project your could list various surnames.
Lately, I been revealing a lot about how I work! I hope it is helpful or at least gives you some ideas that can be adapted to your own research. If you have any suggestions for how I can improve my system please let me know.