January Genealogy To-Do List

I have to start this by giving all the credit to Tonia over at Tonia’s Roots.  The first week in January I was reading a backlog of blogs in my Google Reader and looking at all the 2011 goals and organization posts.  When I found Tonia’s blog I got stuck for a while wandering around her site.  She has set it up in a very useful format, with various categories for the posts.  I keep thinking that I would like us to have more than one category and that “Miscellaneous” (which is the default) isn’t very helpful and is only descriptive in the broadest way.  That is an item to put on my to-do list.

Tonia has several types of information she posts regularly, but the one that really caught my eye is her genealogy to-do list for the month which she maps to her yearly goals. I particularly like the headings she has used on her lists.  I tend to lump all my genealogy work into a single category in my mind and then feel overwhelmed.  And some things don’t get the priority I would actually like to give them.  For example I have been saying that I need to learn how to use a software program to touch up and fix digital photos for more than a year, but I haven’t done anything about it.  That counts as education, don’t you think?

The big part of making a public list like this is that it helps hold you accountable.  We all know that saying out loud you’re going to do something, better yet saying it to someone else, is a good way to help motivate you to actually do whatever it is. It doesn’t always work, but does seem to help. I know I am more likely to accomplish something if I have committed to it out loud. So I contacted Tonia and told her I really liked her format and asked if I could borrow it for myself. She graciously said “sure”, so here I am.

And with this post, I am taking a page from Tonia (almost but not quite literally) and starting what I intend to be a monthly posting of my Genealogy To-Do List for that month.  I am an inveterate keeper of lists, and of course I already have to-do lists sitting on my computer desktop and on my physical desktop.  My hope is that by being public and by being very specific about what I will do, and how many,  and the timeframe (this month) I can break down some of the scary tasks I face and make progress on them.  Notice I didn’t use the word finish in association with these scary tasks.

Of course, in my usual fashion, I missed making it a New Year’s resolution or even goal for the year. But I decided better late than never. As was true last year, my goals for the coming year are to get better organized, to get some research questions answered, and to learn more about how to do genealogy.

I don’t know how my monthly list will work, but am pretty sure I will have to learn as I go how to make lists of things I can actually do. Here is my first approximation for January 2011. Since I made the original list more than a week and a half ago I have already done some of the items, or tried them out, so my comments about how it has worked so far are in brackets. The items will change from one month to the next as I fine-tune this idea, and (fingers-crossed) get things done.


  1. process 4 headstone photos from first Ashford cemetery trip (enter data into RootsMagic; make sure the jpgs are saved as tif files; save in archive directory)   see what it really takes to do this – maybe 4 is too many or too few… [Converted to tifs already; haven’t yet moved to archive directory; not many good pictures-stones eroded and covered in lichens etc.; I remember that I need to think about file naming; also, where should the archive directory be]
  2. write letter to Denmans in NY about original deed to William Denman [written 1/17, mailed 1/18 – Yay Pat!]
  3. find way to contact Steve P. and/or his mother about pictures of the old Salt house before all the work was done
  4. process info in one file in Research Notes 2010 directory (enter into RootsMagic; moved file to appropriate directory) [did several files already; I tend to keep going once I start.]


  1. write at least 3 blog posts [2 done as of 1/17, 1 in draft form]


  1. spend half an hour a week dealing with the piles on my desk
  2. read DearMyrtle’s January organization checklist (have pdf already) [read; and raised questions about organization: I agree that binders work better for me than files, but I’m not sure about making multiple copies of documents so I can have them in more than one binder.  Hm.]
  3. backup blog [this is something I haven’t made routine yet, but I really do know that I need to, so maybe putting it on a list will help]


  1. watch one online video about genealogy (rootstelevision, not sure what other options there are or which topic to start with) [I signed up for a RootsMagic webinar in the beginning of Feb., does that count?  It definitely counts for February.]
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