Organising & Prioritising …. (with British spelling!)

I’ve been inspired to write this post by an invitation to join a ‘Blog Party’ on the theme ‘Organize & Prioritize‘. Although in many areas of my life, I’m quite an organised person, I find it far too easy to get distracted when doing genealogical research.

The main focus of my research is a one-name study for the surnames Tickle, Tickell, and variants. I collect information about people and families with these names throughout the world. I registered my study with the Guild of One-Name Studies in late 2018, although I already had quite a bit of information gathered over the preceding 20 years or so. As I find new people and/or reconstruct families I add them to my digital records, first in Rootsmagic (RM), genealogical software running on my Macbook. Periodically, I export GEDCOM files from RM and upload them to TNG (The Next Generation), the software that runs the Genealogy section of my website. Once the data reaches my website it will be saved by the Guild of One-Name Studies should I no longer be able to continue and after my demise.

There are many, many different lines, few of which I’ve yet been able to connect. I currently have 7 RM databases, covering different geographic areas. Although these are called ‘trees’ in RM terminology, each one actually contains numerous unconnected trees. Unfortunately, I haven’t been consistent about naming places. For example, sometimes I’ve put in the country and sometimes not; I have St., St, and Saint all referring to the same place – but RM considers each to be a different place. In different RM databases I’ve used slightly different ways of citing sources, meaning that they are also inconsistent. I started out using standard source templates that came with the package but, more recently, I’ve experimented with making my own templates to suit the sources I use most frequently. The result is a real hotchpotch and I need to clean everything up!

So that should be my priority for this year and it encompasses organisation as well. However, a major stumbling block is that I’m more interested in finding out about the way of life and the circumstances of the people and families I research than I am in collecting lots of dates and data, or being meticulous about entering place names or citing sources. To try to overcome this I’ve decided to see if I can bribe myself to do better – for each hour I spend getting organised, I’ll allow myself an hour of enjoyable researching, around and about.

I’m quite goal-oriented but have found the only way to achieve goals is to make them realistic. So I’m setting myself a single organisational goal, although it will need several steps to achieve it.

My Goal

By the end of the year I will have all my records in a single Rootsmagic tree, with consistent place names and sources.

My Plan

1: Print out a list of all Places in each RM tree, decide upon a standardised form, then work through the RM files merging / editing / adding as appropriate so that they are all consistent;

2: Do the same thing with the Sources. (this step will take the longest time, and be the most complicated I think);

3: Run RM’s Database tools, Problem Search, and Check for Duplicates on each tree to try to weed out any issues and see if there are people who need to be merged;

4: Create a new blank tree and then add each of the existing trees to it;

5: Run the RM tools again on the new combined tree.

I haven’t yet decided whether to try to complete step 1 on all the existing RM trees, then move on to step 2, or whether to work through all 5 steps with two trees, then with a third etc.

It could easily take me all year to achieve this goal, especially as I don’t want to abandon other elements of my research altogether – other things are so much more interesting than organising!

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