Monday, January 11, 2010

5 Organization Mistakes To Avoid

At the start of a new year, everyone is making resolutions. One of the most common resolutions in the genealogy community is to finally get organized. While we may start off energetic, excited, and with the best intentions, things don't always continue that way. Before long, you're overwhelmed, bored, and frustrated with trying to get organized. Then the piles return, you can't find that birth certificate of Great Aunt Martha, and you feel like pulling your hair out or hitting your head against a wall.

In order to avoid this unpleasant situation, here are 5 organization mistakes to avoid:
  1. One size does not fit all. What works for one person may not work for you and what works for you may not work for someone else. You have to find a system that seems natural and makes sense to you. You might even need to tweak some systems to make them work for you.
  2. Look at the pros and cons of each organizational system you find. This one is very similar to #1. It is important to analyze the pros and cons of each system and pick the one that fits you best. Some things will matter more to you than it does to someone else. Some things will be deal breakers that aren't to someone else. Pick the one that fits your needs and your organizational priorities.
  3. It takes time and work to stay organized. But the time that you put in will be small in comparison to the time that you save. Being organized means that you can find what you need to find when you need to find it. You'll be more efficient and get more research done.
  4. Buy organizational supplies after you have assessed what you have and what your needs are. Too often people get all excited to get organized that they head straight toward the stores to buy supplies when they don't even know what they need. Until you've assessed what your needs are and figured out a plan, you can't go buying supplies.
  5. Reassess your needs every so often. Needs can change as your research progresses or as time passes. Therefore, every once in a while, you'll need to assess whether or not your organizational system is still working.
Happy Organizing and Happy Researching!

Further reading:

Disclosure: Some of the links in this blog post are to my Amazon store. When someone buys something from my store, I make an incredibly small percentage of the sale for referring a customer to Amazon.


Katrina said...


I love love LOVE this post! I am so guilty of wanting to just go get shiny new office supplies -- probably because I used to sell them, lol. I also really like how you put a bunch of related resources at the bottom of the post. I hope you plan to continue that feature in the future. :)

Elyse said...

I am glad you like the post. I love office supplies too - and I know that I've been guilty of buying pretty new office supplies and then never actually organizing anything.
And I am definitely glad you liked the relevant links at the bottom of the post. I've been considering doing this for a while and if other people like it then I will definitely continue with it.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant (X loads)

This is definately one of those 'print out and file for future reference' posts.

I use a combo of filing cabinet draw and folders, because it works for me!

Roz - a UK reader

ps when are the next badge of you tube vids coming out

Elyse said...

Roz - I'm glad the article was useful to you and that you use a system that works for you.

The next batch of Youtube vids will hopefully be out by next week. I am experimenting with new video editing software (it is a lot to get used to. I've never used anything like this and I am not an artsy tech oriented kind of it is taking me time). But I am hoping to have one out soon!

Kathleen Brandt, Professional Genealogist said...

You are an inspiration. I wrote a piece not long ago on Young Genealogists and I only can hope that others will follow in your footsteps. Glad you are going back and citing sources.