Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Doing Genealogy Time

Several of my readers and colleagues have asked "how do you ever do everything you do?" Well, I recently had the opportunity to find out!

The "homework" in September for the Professional Genealogists Study Group that I participate in (we are studying the book "Professional Genealogy" edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills) was to read Chapter 13 ("Time Management") and to:

Part 1 -- keep a time journal of everything you do in a day -- from the most minute task and the least significant distraction to the most essential elements of your schedule. Do this religiously for the next seven days.

Part 2 - Study your time journal and identify all of your time thieves -- social calls, instant messages and emails, mindless television shows, commitments to projects you're not vested in, etc.

I did this for two weeks instead of one week, and found that I spend, on average, this amount of time on these tasks (from get-up to go-down):

* Read and write email (personal + 10 lists): 0.51 hours/day (31 minutes)
* Read genealogy blogs (over 300): 0.72 hours (43 minutes)
* Writing blog posts on 3 genie blogs: 1.58 hours (95 minutes)
* ProGen/TGSG: 0.13 hours (8 minutes)
* Reading/writing on Facebook: 0.27 hours (16 minutes)

* CVGS activities: 0.96 hours (58 minutes)
* CGSSD activities: 1.30 hours (108 minutes)
* SDGS activities: 0.26 hours (16 minutes)

* Client Research: 0.71 hours (43 minutes)
* Randy's Research: 0.66 hours (40 minutes)

* Read news sites: 0.27 hours (16 minutes)
* Morning non-genealogy activities: 1.94 hours (116 minutes)
* Mid-day non-genealogy activities: 2.38 hours (143 minutes)
* Evening non-genealogy activities: 3.85 hours (231 minutes)

Total Genealogy hours/day: 7.09 hours
Total non-genealogy hours/day: 8.44 hours
Total bedtime hours/day: 8.47 hours

Obviously the biggest time wasters from my two weeks are taking too much time getting up, reading the paper, watching TV, watching and going to the Padres games, taking my wife, daughter and granddaughter out to dinner, taking care of the granddaughters, working on the house with my contractor, taking walks with George, blogging on Randy's Busy Life, and going to church.

Still, I managed to work over 7 hours a day on genealogy (on average) - 49 hours a week. One anomaly was the CGSSD presentation - I spent a lot of time working on it and giving it, and that is time that I would normally use for my other genealogy activities, like client research and my own research. A normal month would have about 3 hours each for CGSSD and SDGS meetings (or about 6 minutes a day for each) - which frees up maybe 1.5 hours a day for other genealogy activities. I do spend a lot of time on CVGS activities with four meetings and four table talks each month, so that number is pretty accurate.

Another anomaly is our worship of the hapless (this year, anyway) San Diego Padres - during the summer this takes at least three hours each day, and often more if we go to the game. A third anomaly is that we are improving the house, and some of the non-genealogy time was spent going to Home Depot, moving stuff around, etc.

My day is centered around CVGS and blogging right now. I could cut out email, Facebook and reading and writing blogs, and could gain about 3 hours each day, but Randy would be a very frustrated Genea-blogger. Or cut it all back to say 1.5 hours and gain 1.5 hours.

Essentially, I "worked" on genealogy for about 1/3 of the day, spend about 1/3 of my time on other waking interests and about 1/3 of my time in bed during this two week period. Of course, when the house is done and the Padres aren't on (but the Chargers are), I will gain maybe 3 or 4 hours a day for genealogy.

This exercise was very useful because it forced me to accurately account for my time. I have been summarizing my genealogy day in a nearly daily journal at for almost a year now, and I see that I'm underestimating my blog reading and blog writing time there.

Frankly, I'm happy doing what I'm doing - I'm having fun pursuing my genealogy interests. I do not actively seek clients, but if I did I would use a time management tool (I used a Microsoft Word table to log my time and tasks) to keep a time journal to support my work.

See - I don't do it ALL the time! My wife thinks I do, however. Now I can show her that I have a balanced daily life, heh heh. Am I wrong here?

1 comment:

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