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How Well-Organized Are You Now?

Sure, every researcher has lots of information...but locating and using that information is often a challenge. Think you're pretty organized? Take a look at the questions below:

  • Do you know exactly what information you have for each ancestor?
  • Do you have a complete list of information you are missing for each ancestor?
  • Do you know exactly what resources you've checked, and what results you found?
  • Do you know every book you've ever searched?
  • Do you remember whom you've contacted and what response you received?
  • Can you put your hands on any piece of information in your files in 10 seconds or less?

If you answered yes to the questions above, stop reading this lesson -- it will do you no good. If you are with the majority of genealogists who feel their information is in disarray, this lesson will guide you in the first steps of organization.

Now that's a big claim! Becoming organized is not an easy, one-step process. I'm of the belief that there are three facets of organization, each one of which can take a while to put in place. But once you have all three parts working, you should be able to quickly and easily find any bit of genealogical data you have gathered, know what information you have and what you still need, and have a comprehensive knowledge of what resources you've already checked.

The first facet of organization is the use of charts and forms to display and clarify information. The second facet is the use of software to organize information electronically, in a form which can be easily and quickly cross-referenced, indexed, and used to generate endless variations of reports. The third stage of organization is to create a usable, coherent filing system which allows you to physically organize.

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