Monday, January 26, 2015

Workflow to make me go slow....


I've found a document. Now what do I do?

This week over at the Genealogy Do-Over we are working on Project Management and Tracking Research. I've started using a variation of Thomas MacEntee's Project Management Spreadsheet and I'm overwhelmed by the tasks I've assigned myself. I am retired and I don't have to do any of this stuff, but I've signed myself up for a pretty heavy schedule of family, sewing and genealogy tasks. Long term, this new Project Management Log should keep me from overextending myself and let me get back to my 8 hours of sleep per night. Short term, tracking all this stuff has lowered my blood pressure and eliminated the panic I was feeling about forgetting something.

That said, one of the pieces of getting everything entered into the spreadsheet was to actually create a project outline of all the steps needed to accomplish my many projects. This has always been a weak point in my getting things done. For example, I wanted to take our personal family papers out of the safety deposit box last week in order to scan them and enter them into my Research log. (I need to prove I was born, you see.) So on my way out the door, late as usual for my workout, I realized I would need the key to the box, the box number, and something to carry the papers in. Mad scramble, Later yet. Oh, well, I hate working out.

Now, my sister can just do all this in her head, but my head is too full of other stuff to remember details well. At least that's my excuse for covering my cognitive impairment and my inability to live anywhere but "in the moment". Using my new project log, I created a task for the day before returning the items to the bank which allowed me to have everything in my gym bag so I could just leave in the morning, do my workout and run my errand.  AND bonus, I got to complete a task. Oh, and I worked out for the full hour.

That's life, but this is genealogy.  I've been encouraged to consider workflow by some folks on the Do-Over group.  Good idea. Harder than I thought it should be, even though I had kinda worked through it once earlier this month.  I decided there were 2 steps. (How hard could that be?)
  1. How do I find a document to prove a genealogical point?
  2. What do I do with the document AFTER I've found it?
Let's work on number 2. Here's what I think. First, everything has to be digitized. Fits with all my genealogy project goals: digitize photo collections, rename documents/photos for easy finding, label paper files and photos so I know they've been digitized, digitize old media formats, and of course share, digitally, the information with interested family.  So here's my digital workflow with some new tweaks gleaned from discussions in the Do-Over Group:

I’ve found a document. What do I do?

  • If not already in digital format, scan, then file original in archival sleeve and put sleeve in ToDo Basket (I'd better clean out that basket of all the other junk that's in it.) These documents would be ones inherited or given to me by family members, like my mother-in-law's birth certificate, or my parents' marriage certificate. These will be filed after the analysis process.
  • all saved documents go into  DROPBOX/Genealogy-Shared/{!xxGenealogy} /[!ToBeFiled]  (I will not file in surname folders until document has been analyzed) The xx stands for the surname part of the folder name.)
  • Save the document using Naming Convention: 
Last_First_{Married}_YYYY_State(2 letters)_County_City_Item{_index} 
OR for Photos: Last_First_{Married}_YYYY_St_County_City_Event_Photo
{-index} is added as neccessary and without the {}, to the end of a file name when it is not a derivative of the original, but an index or abstract of the file.  This means I need to try to find an image of the original document. 
  • Create shortcuts as needed for other names in documents; rename as needed; add metadata as needed
This is my Dropbox Genealogy folder. My sister and I share access to this folder and EVERYTHING genealogy is in this set of folders. The top 3 folders hold all our documents related to our families. 

When ready to Analyze Documents:                                                                    

folders inside surname folders
Reports are Family Group
Sheets and the like; Logs
are my Research Logs; WI is
location folder for
  • Move file from !ToBeFiled  into appropriate digital folder                           
  • Add File Name to index spreadsheet
  • Create label for archival sleeve (including digital folder/file name);  file sleeve in appropriate binder location
  • Add document to Evidentia and/or Research Log (Still working out which of these will work best for me for analysis purposes.)
  • Create source citation in Research Log and/or Evidentia
  • Analyze document or collection of documents, write conclusion
  • Add conclusion & document(s) to Legacy – events, transcriptions, attach document(s) to source, share to other persons in Legacy as appropriate
  • Edit entry in research log to indicate completion
Piece of cake! Or not....

The new part for me is the tweak of putting all my files into an index spreadsheet.  I've used one previously to match the locations of physical paper files and digital ones so I can make sure something is scanned.  I do this because I've been known to scan stuff twice or more because I didn't know I had already scanned that photo or document.  Sheesh. What a waste of time!

Right now, I've decided to try creating an index of digital files using a spreadsheet.  So far, I've only got columns for File Name, Folder 1 (Hanson, Dosch or DoschDaveLynn) and Folder2 (Bednorz, Hanson, Hintz, Sullivan, etc).  I'm not going to add other stuff until I try out the searches and sorts I can do with these. I imagine I'll eventually add something to search for photos vs documents, types of documents, etc.  I'm counting on the Do-Over community to help me figure this out.  

Now, in terms of actually doing genealogy, I have been gathering and re-naming digital files for my interview project with my 90-year-old mother-in-law.  She's the last parent left and she's a great story-teller and keeper of the family lore.  Her mind is sharp as a tack; she remembers everything, but she's failing physically - vision and hearing are going and arthritis makes life difficult for her.  She has to be my number 1 genealogy priority this year. And she will be the topic for my foray into writing. I've joined the Family History Writing Challenge from Feb 1-28. (Talk about over-extending oneself...) I see her this weekend and have both my Flip Video camera and my new Olympus digital voice recorder. A big project, many steps. Thank goodness I'm all organized with my Research Log and Project Manager.  Well....we'll see.  I'm famous for falling off the back of the wagon.  I'm counting on my Do-Over  and Writing Challenge communities to keep me on track.  

Edited with many thanks to Rod Deller of the Genealogy Do-Over group for pointing out confusions caused by my writing assumptions.  Thanks, Rod.

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