click to view original photo

Genealogy Busy Work

We all have those quiet moments, sometimes a few minutes, sometimes thirty minutes and if lucky an hour. What we do with that time can be very productive.


Content Details

Type: Article
Resource: Tracing Lines
Prepared by:
Word Count: 792 (approx.)
Short URL:

As a child I would often watch my mother pick up some sewing, a book, or a letter she had started writing. These things would occupy her for only a few minutes and she would put them down and go back to her cooking, baking, ironing or whatever household chore needed done. She called these quiet moments away from her occupation as "busy work."

We all have those quiet moments, sometimes a few minutes, sometimes thirty minutes and if lucky an hour. What we do with that time can be very productive. Most of us spend time in a doctor's office or hospital waiting for tests or to see a doctor or accompanying a love one. Take a genealogy project the next time you are in this situation. If you are tired of waiting in line, grab something out of your pocket or purse that pertains to genealogy. Time will just speed along! Here's some ideas to create genealogy busy work.

1. Get caught up on the genealogy magazines that have gone unread. It is a good idea to have these ready to grab on your way out the door. Waiting for a doctor, I have actually read an entire magazine with time left over!

2. Print out Internet newsletters, e-zines or mailing list posts that you have not read. Place them in the stack of things to read during your waiting time.

3. Make a list of supplies you will be needing, such as printer cartridges, note pads, pens, pencils. The next time you run errands, grab the list. Just because you need groceries, doesn't mean you can't equip your genealogy office also.

4. Keep a pad of paper or even a small hand-held recorder handy to record your ideas. These can be about research that needs to be done, families you need to concentrate on, or places to research on Internet. That recorder might come in handy while waiting at stop lights. Just remember to drive and not talk at the same time.

5. Don't turn on the TV to fill those empty minutes. Instead grab a project that pertains to your genealogy. Review your charts, on the computer or printed out, to see if all of your information is in order. Do you have counties listed along with town/city and state? Are names spelled properly?

6. Create a timeline. This doesn't have to be creative enough to frame and display. On paper sketch out a particular ancestor's timeline. There are programs available on Internet that allow you to create timelines. Seeing it on paper first takes less time and allows you to later transfer it to a computer format.

7. Going somewhere to do research? Drag out the bag or tote and when you have idle time add something to it. You'll need all kinds of supplies from pencils and pens to staples, plus printed out charts and forms. You can always start the printer on tasks while you are doing other projects.

8. Are you guilty of purchasing genealogy methodology books and never reading them? Or just reading a chapter that interests you? Select a chapter at a time to read and before too long you will have read all of the book.

9. Entering data into genealogy files on the computer takes time, but little by little you can get it done. Fill your busy time with some of the entry work. The key here is to not become so absorbed in the computing you forget the tasks at hand.

10. The evil of Internet is that you become absorbed in links and before you know it hours have fleeted by. Set a kitchen timer for thirty minutes. See how much you can accomplish in that length of time. Then move away from the computer. You are just filling time with genealogy busy work.

11. If you have an iPod or MP3 player, download genealogy podcasts and listen to those while you are waiting. Earbuds will allow you to listen and not disturb others, and you'll learn something genealogical while you are waiting.

12. Have a genealogy to-do box handy. On scraps of paper, jot down ideas and stuff in the box. At the end of the week, empty those and see what you can do in thirty minutes or less.

Often I converse with genealogists who were actively pursuing their research, but have lost interest. This is usually because they have become occupied with other interests. Some of these are employment, children's activities, health problems and changes in lifestyle. It is amazing how much can be accomplished in research by not spending a full day at the courthouse or library, but rather by performing genealogy busy work. Research doesn't need to stop just because you are busy.

Source Information: Tracing Lines, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2007.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

<< Tracing Lines

<< Helpful Articles