TIP:Set a 10-minute timer on your cell phone, computer, or on a mechanical timer, and when it dings, QUIT!

Are you busy, busy, busy? Do you find that there are never enough hours or minutes in the day? Those of us trying to search out details of our ancestors on our lunch hours at work or before bedtime, struggle with time constraints. Rather than get lost on the computer for hours while dinner burns, here are a few pointers on how to make your research minutes count.

First:You must be ORGANIZED – with a filing system that works for you (e.g., binders, cards, sheets) plus genealogy software to hold your data. You will quickly lose track of the relevant ancestor if you depend on post-it notes all over your desk. We have all done this at least once, losing important information and having to look it all up yet again.

Second: You need SUMMARY SHEET(S) of your research, organized by surname or by place (county, etc.). This can be as simple as: surname, first/middle names, birthdates and birthplaces, marriage . . . with notes of where to search what.

Third: Make your BEST GUESS of SOURCES of data to research next. For example, you have an estimated birth date place and want specific information: Search for birth registrations within 20 years of the date, also baptism records, marriage records may have the age listed, death records also may include a birth date, also a WW1 draft card with details of birth/place, and if married, or perhaps an obituary in the local paper – and where is that likely to be located now (universities, online databases), etc.

Fourth:DO NOT GET SIDETRACKED! Write down the website that looks promising for that interesting someone else you need to look up; detail neighbouring counties that may have been where grandparents came from; write down variant spelling you noticed for two people or families that may be yours. But stay focused on your specific one or two ancestors for 10 -15 minutes!

Fifth: You need to note down the ancestor WRONG NAMES/PLACES/DATESthat you find along the way on specific documents. Otherwise you will find yourself looking up the same three people over and over again, on the same three or four documents. What a terrible waste of your precious time.

One final point: Write down the sources of your ancestor’s details, every time! You will forget where you found that great information on your ancestors living in a pioneer town in the late 1700s. Keep a sheet or a computer notepad open at all times for noting website links, database information, and more. Perhaps, leave yourself a note of exactly what to look at the next time you have 5 minutes to spare.

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