Wednesday, 4 February 2015

A long week or a short cut? (Genealogy Do-Over week 2..&3…&4……)

It’s strange how things work out – there was me, finishing my last post with “So now I just need to work out how to use OneNote effectively….” And along came an essential [non-genealogy] task that had to take priority over the Do-Over and has taken up several weeks of my time.  L

However, as part of this task involved identifying errors in a document that had been posted to me, I suddenly realised I could actually use OneNote for this and so get in some practice with it. I scanned the document and created a pdf from it, which I then imported into OneNote.  Next I annotated the pages, adding highlighting and text comment boxes, with arrows drawn to indicate relevant links between my comments and the original text.  Finally I exported the annotated version back to a pdf, ready to send off to where it needed to go. Along the way, I learnt a bit about printing from OneNote [It is advisable to set the page size before import of a document, if you know you’ll need to print it, otherwise you don’t get what you expect when you hit print!] [And, even after doing that, if you try cramming too much on the page, without paying attention to the margins, exporting to a pdf will still result in overflowing pages and additional pages being added to your exported document. L]

I also discovered that it is useful to ensure the image to be annotated is an appropriate size before highlighting anything, as resizing the image leaves the highlighting at random points on the page! [Perhaps there is a way to group the drawn items with the original image, as there is in Word, so that it all moves together - must look into that.] 

So, where did that side-track leave me with regard to my Do-Over progress? 

Well, after my last post, I had made a start on watching some educational videos – some about OneNote, Evernote, and several by Thomas MacEntee regarding the Do-Over, his Excel Research Log, and his Project management log.  I also watched one entitled “Genealogy on the Go with iPads and Tablets” by Lisa Louise Cooke, which looked like it could be useful (and it was).  Any notes I made during these, I tried to lay out in a “mind-map” format – which seemed to help me to focus and not write too many details down, a longstanding failing of mine when taking notes at lectures.  J

So far, so good - all part of deciding on the procedures to use to research, an aim of week 1. 

And perhaps that’s where I am really still at – although it seems like I might have now managed to deal with several weeks all together.  Week 2’s topics were 1) Setting Research Goals, 2) Conducting Self Interview, and 3) Conducting Family Interviews.  Thomas said that the reason for including 2) and 3) was to provide the data for 1), since many people had put aside their old research.  But as I am continuing to carry out research for my One-Name Study, I have more than enough items I could be setting research goals for.  I am also not yet ready to start on my own family history research at the moment.  So the “interview” sections of week 2 were put to one side until later.

Week 3’s topics were
1) Tracking Research and
2) Conducting Research,

And Week 4’s were
1) Managing Projects and Tasks, and
2) Tracking Searches

In week 1, I said I need to focus on the whole process of research, from start to finish, and that one of my principles would be to “Track all work”.  Now, maybe it’s just how I think, but it seems to me that the topics of week 4 are the top (“summary”) and bottom (“detailed”) levels of the practical side of that “whole process”, with items from weeks 2 and 3 fitting in-between them, like the first four stages in this: 

So I have been concentrating on how I am going to process all of those aspects in a way that fits smoothly together – and also takes account of the systems I have already that I believe do work (eg my correspondence log, which often serves as a “starting point” from which research projects develop.)  Having come across David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” system in one of the videos, and knowing that I have other projects in life that could do with better tracking, I have set up one notebook for organisation.  This includes a tab for “project management” in which I have embedded a modified copy of Thomas MacEntee’s excel project management spreadsheet.  Projects will then be allocated to the specific notebook they relate to (eg Personal Family History, Parry One-Name Study, or one of my other activities) as appropriate.

Both the Personal Family History Notebook and the Parry ONS Notebook are set up with sections based on the different sheets from Thomas MacEntee’s Research Log.  Within the sections I can then add pages of research plans & individual search logs.  That should enable me to have embedded excel sheets as summary documents in each notebook, whilst still maintaining a more narrative style for the actual plans and the detailed search logs.  At the moment, I have left in most of the columns from the original spreadsheets, but there’s likely to be modifications as I use the system and refine where my preferred balance is, between spreadsheet and narrative forms of recording.  Unfortunately, I have already had to remove the “drop down lists”, which were set up to limit certain column entries just to the relevant categories from Evidence Evaluation, as it appears OneNote cannot import a spreadsheet with them still in, but I am sure I shall soon learn to use the right terminology. 

I do want to give credit where it’s due so I will add here that inspiration for the various sheets I have used, and some of the modifications I have made so far, come from the files provided by Miriam J. Robbins (http://ancestories1.blogspot.co.uk), Christine Sisko Svircev, and Linda Debe Hodges, in particular (as well as Thomas MacEntee, of course).  These can be found either on their own blogs, or under the Files section of the Facebook Do-Over group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/genealogydoover/ .  I have also now added a “Do-Over Tools page” to this blog, with a few comments about the items I am finding particularly useful (or will be exploring soon).  I shall continue to add to this as my Do-Over continues (and as I continue to learn how to set Blogger up!)

So, what do you think - have I found a short cut to get to week 5 of the Genealogy Do-Over, or am I still at week 2, since I haven’t actually done any specific research yet?  

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