Sunday, August 19, 2012

Weekend Wonderings: Finished Yet?

All of us have calendars crowded with overlapping responsibilities and simultaneous deadlines. It's not just the kids, it's not just the clients (if any), it's not just our other jobs, it's not just our procrastination, and it's not necessarily ADD.

Few projects can be finished quickly without interruption even if we had no other demands in our lives. If the material is all local, there's probably too much of it. And usually some material is far away or even uncertain of existence -- so we have to wait for remote libraries or archives or researchers to come through, or for us to make the trip to them.

As a result we wind up with a goodly number of projects going at the same time. Then they start interfering with each other and some fall off the back of the desk. That plus our perfectionism leads to even longer delays. We work all the time, and nothing ever gets done!

I'm not sure that generic time-management programs (digital or otherwise) are a lot of help on this. Actually I'm not much help either, but here are three thoughts:

(1) Consider breaking your big family book project into article-sized pieces. As Tom Jones points out, their titles will be centrally indexed by PERSI, the Periodical Source Index, so cram in all the surnames you legally can. (Headquartered at the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, PERSI is also available via HeritageQuest through many local libraries.) The time management point is more milestones closer together allows us to see some "finished" work sooner, with the satisfaction and additional communication that entails.

(2) Any promised submission to a diligent editor or an insistent cousin can focus the mind wonderfully.

(3) Not to repeat myself, but the BCG certification process commits applicants to a deadline. Even with extensions, it forces us to finish some things. Irrespective of the outcome, that in itself is a good experience to have.

What other ideas have worked for you? Always traveling and never arriving is no fun. Give yourself the gift of some intermediate destinations. And think how happy those editors and cousins will be!

Harold Henderson, "Weekend Wonderings: Finished Yet?," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 19 August 2012 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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