Researching your family history can be a rewarding and exciting journey, but it's important to have a plan in place to ensure you make the most of your time and resources.
- When I started on my journey I had no plan so you can imagine all the different directions I went in following leads down a rabbit hole.
- As I've honed my research skills over the years, I now realize how important it is to have a structure in place before diving into another research project.
Here are some steps you can follow to create an organized plan for researching your family history:
1. Determine your Goals:
What do you hope to learn or accomplish through your research?
Having clear goals will help you focus your efforts and stay motivated.
Dr. Steven R. Covey always says, "Start with the End in Mind.
"Beginning with the end in mind is one of the seven habits that he established in his book on highly effective people.
Take a peak inside, 7 Habits of Highily Effective People.
2. Gather any Existing Information:
Start by collecting any documents or records that you already have, such as birth certificates, census records, and family photos.
Once you examine those closely, you'll have lots of information to plug into the larger puzzle.
3. Identify Key Individuals:
Make a list of the ancestors you want to research and prioritize them based on the information you already have and what you hope to learn.
It's helpful to start with yourself - Make a family tree chart of your immediate family and build out from there.
Contact other relatives - Reach out to family members you know or find online to learn more about your family.
4. Research Online Resources:
There are many online resources available for genealogy research, including databases, archives, and forums.
Take some time to explore what's available and see what might be useful for your research.
I suggest you start with familysearch.org.
It's free and has so much incredible information.
Don't forget to use local resources - visit cemeteries, libraries, local historical societies, and other sources to learn more about your family’s history.
5. Plan your Next Steps:
Based on what you have learned so far, make a list of the specific resources you want to use and the questions you want to answer.
Start by organizing your research - Create a spreadsheet or document to track the people and places you’re researching in an organized fashion.
6. Be Flexible:
Your research plan may change as you learn more about your family history.
Be prepared to adjust your plan as needed.
7. Take Breaks:
Researching your family history can be time-consuming and potentially overwhelming.
- Remember to take breaks and give yourself time to rest and recharge.
- I take mini breaks throughout my researching or writing hours by using a Pomodoro Tracker.
- It allows me to manage my time more scientifically which helps me to have a balance between my research work and my breaks.
Give them a try! You can download these for $3.00 and get started today.
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8. Don't be Afraid to Ask for Help:
Professional genealogists can be an invaluable resource if you get stuck in your research.
Follow them online and join their Facebook groups or YouTube channels.
You'll be surprise to discover how much information they share. Their tips can be extremely helpful for your search efforts.