Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Dear Randy: How do you find the time to research, live life, and do all those posts?

I wrote Dear Randy: Why Do You Write About Your Personal Genealogy Research? last week after a reader asked me the question at RootsTech.  In comments to that post, a reader asked:

How do you find the time to research, live life, and do all those posts?!

The simple answer is:  I fill up the time when I am not doing "life" (like eating, sleeping, traveling, watching TV, visiting with people, attending church or other events) with doing genealogy research and writing about genealogy.  I do "life" but I also do "genealogy" - often eight to ten hours a day.  I dislike doing "nothing" with my time, so I do "something." My wife usually knows where I am!

So some history, and then I'll try to define my current process:

1)  I retired from my aerospace engineering career in 2002, and started doing genealogy full-time.  I worked on my own research, but started attending the local genealogy society programs and started speaking to societies on a regular basis.  I went back to work part-time in 2004 and retired again in 2006.  

2)  By 2006, I had a cave full of paper, but I had put most of it into Family Tree Maker software, but I had very few source citations.  I changed my software to RootsMagic because the source citations had templates that used Evidence Explained principles.  I decided to add source citations to the information in my family tree database, and am still working on them.

3)  I quickly figured out that I needed to organize my digital genealogy files, and to digitize my photographs and obtain digital copies of genealogy records for my ancestors.  So I did - and haven't changed much after 12 years of using my digital file system.  This is key to working efficiently!

4)  Then I started blogging in April 2006 and determined that I needed to build a following because nobody knew who I was.  Writing two or three posts a day was how I achieved being "known" and going to genealogy conferences (SCGS, NGS, FGS, and RootsTech) really helped, because I was invited to be on panels about blogging.  I write about my own research, genealogy issues of the day, how-to articles on databases and software, and opinion pieces.  I spend 1 to 3 hours a day writing blog posts for my blogs.

5)  Reading blogs consumes several hours nearly every day.  I have over 1,000 genealogy blogs in my Feedly news reader, but not all of them post something every day.  I estimate that I read something like 100 to 200 genealogy-related blog posts each day.  I also read political, lifestyle and social media sites.  Genealogy blogging has waned a bit since 2012 because of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media.  

6)  Our life has changed a bit since Linda can no longer drive due to health reasons.  I drop her off at the local Y at 7:30 a.m. for swimming and pick her up at 9 a.m., and several times a week we go shopping.  I read at home during the time between dropoff and pickup.  I've lost about 40 minutes every day because I have to make two round trips.

7)  In the late morning, I usually write a blog post and work on my presentations, on society work, answering email, and maybe following a rabbit trail on one of the genealogy providers.  I usually eat lunch at home, and often take a 30 minute nap.  

8)  In the afternoon, I try to write a blog post, do some research to support upcoming blog posts (e.g., 52 Ancestors), check into Twitter and Facebook (but not for long!), work on current research, DNA matches etc.  I try to limit my social media time to 30 minutes a day.

9)  We usually eat dinner between 5 and 6:30 p.m., and I watch TV news, read the newspaper, and wash dishes during this time.  

10)  After dinner, I am back in the cave and on the computer to answer email, write the morning blog post for the next day, and do more research.  I usually have two hours or more to work on Ancestry Hints, MyHeritage Hints, matching FamilySearch Family Tree, and doing research that adds content and source citations to my family tree database.  I do everything in RootsMagic and TreeShare with my Ancestry Member Tree daily.  

11)  I have some genealogy society activity every week, and the schedule adjusts for that as required.  I attend the CVGS Board meeting, lead the CVGS Research Group, and attend the CVGS monthly program, attend the SDGS monthly program, lead the SDGS RootsMagic Users Group, write and publish the CVGS newsletter, etc.  I also speak at Southern California societies, teach an OASIS class once or twice a year, and speak to community groups and libraries about genealogy.

12)  The daily schedule changes during baseball season (the 2018 season starts tomorrow!  World Series hope springs eternal, it's been a long time since 1998 here in San Diego).  We go to 21 home games of the San Diego Padres and that cuts about 6 hours out of the daily schedule).  But we also watch most of the other games on television.  I read books while watching the games, and can read genealogy blogs, answer email or even write blog posts in my recliner on my laptop or tablet.  The blog posts for the next morning are usually written before dinner during baseball season, since the West Coast games are usually not over until 10 p.m. or later.  

13)  So, on average, I spend each day doing:

*  1 hour reading genealogy blogs
*  1 hour reading other news blogs
*  0.5 hour on other social media
*  1 hour (on average) doing genealogy society things, including presentations, conferences, etc.
*  2-3 hours researching and writing my 2-4 daily blog posts.
*  2-3 hours working on genealogy research of some sort - DNA, family tree, transcribing, 

14)  So that's my so-called life with many genealogy activities - it keeps me busy, it keeps my brain active, and most things get done around the house (well, not the garage cleaning...).  

15)  So how do you do manage your genealogy work?  Please share in your own blog post or in comments.


Copyright (c) 2018, Randall J. Seaver

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Unknown said...

Very impressive and organized! Thanks for the detail ... it inspires me to stay more on track myself.

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

Im tired just reading this Randy! You are so productive.

Root Digger said...

I realized that there is only one person who can be Randy Seavers. You are amazing and so dedicated. Wow!

Crissouli said...

I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
Thank you, Chris