Friday, August 3, 2012

Taming all that Information! - Part 2

This is the second in a two part series following-up on my post about Action Lists.

In the comments section of that post Michelle Goodrum asked:

"When you return from a research outing where you have used one of these lists that contain multiple projects, do you end up writing multiple reports? I realize you would need to write multiple reports for different clients. How about multiple reports to yourself, if you have several projects going?"

For me, the answer is a not so simple as yes or no. The Action Lists mostly represent record pulls.  When I'm doing in-depth research such as on brick walls, I will do analysis on the spot. When I'm doing record pulls, I will likely glance over the records to see if I have a gold mine of information in hand but will hold analysis for later.

I mention this because a written report is usually based on analysis. Since my Action Lists are simple record pulls I may or may not be doing analysis right when I get back to the office.

I'm sure some professionals are gasping at this admission!

My Action Lists can contain research for a myriad of projects such as client research, personal research, research for friends, background research for articles and background research for talks.

The Action Lists help me to save time by pulling a whole slew of records all at one time in one trip.  My schedule then dictates which projects I will be able to work on first.

Client projects with deadlines will be dealt with first. Personal research may wait a week or a month.

It's true that I could further my personal research by doing on the spot analysis thus allowing me to continue the hunt for more records. But my time is limited and I need to prioritize so that all the important information gets pulled first.

With active, high priority research such as for clients, analysis of what I've found will be done right away and multiple research reports, if necessary will be written.

When it comes to background research for articles or talks I often like to do a survey of a certain type or time frame of records. I may pull 10, 20, 50 or 100 records to get the background information I need.  For these I am not writing reports. I will, instead, be analyzing  the records for trends or other information that I can use in the talks or articles.

When the time comes to look at the personal research, yes I will be writing multiple reports. I like to keep my genealogy tight and focused. I tend to write specific reports covering one objective or question rather than a broad topic. For instance, I wrote a personal report about what I found in census records for my brick wall immigrant ancestor, William Edwards. I might write another about surveying passenger list arrival records.  Later on I would write a separate research report of my overall analysis based on the sum total of the previous research reports. Many researchers often put this all in one report but I stay more focused and less overwhelmed if I break things down.

Again, I'm not saying that my approach is the best approach. It is simply what I have found to work for me based on my personality, work style and time limitations.

[Did you miss Taming all that Inforamtion - Part 1?]


  1. Thanks, Marian. I only do my own family research and I had been wondering if I needed to write a report for each person, or document, or life fact that I am researching. You have given me something to think about. "Eating an elephant one bite at a time" or "KISS" is something I need to focus on more. Thanks for the continuing education.

  2. I like the Action Lists approach. Very GTD!

  3. Thank you for your insights. And for the shout out.