Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Threefer: Prompt #11, Saturday Night Fun, and Episode 1 of GenSpace Makeover

In my usual “day late and a dollar short” manner, I am way behind in the blogging prompts (this is #11, Share your way of tackling the record mountain and help others get organized!) and three days late for Randy Seaver’s latest Saturday Night Fun; moreover, I am not one to preach to others when my own house (literally) needs cleaning, so for this post I decided to highlight “What I Do Wrong” in my genealogy filing.

(1) Not being complete enough in backing up paper files with digital ones and digital ones with paper ones. The alert and “greenish-inclined” among you may be horrified at the second half. Why waste paper when it is better to have digital backups of digital copies? Well, it’s because I’m a belt-and-suspenders kind of person, not to mention paranoid, so I indulge my paranoia in this aspect. In particular, I should have been more careful earlier to print out all e-mails with family and fellow researchers that have any connection to family research. Most of the time I did this, but I know there were lapses. One of my e-mail accounts is on AOL, and I used to use the old AOL “shell” for this. However, after a while this clunky application was wreaking havoc with my computer, so I finally gave up and switched to web-based AOL. However, none of my previous correspondence could be accessed from my browser. So … I learned my lesson. I hope.

(2) Putting binders and hanging files in awkward, hard-to-reach/see places. Two of my sets of bookshelves are actually 2’ deep plastic storage shelves from Hope Depot; they hold a lot of stuff, but the stuff in the back is hard to see and reach, especially on the top shelves. As you can see from the second picture below, my genealogy/family binders are on that top shelf. Most of my actual file drawers in my office are filled with non-genealogy files (mistake #2-1/2), so my hanging files have been relegated to a cardboard box which has another cardboard box filled with something else on top of it.

(3) Having browser bookmarks (and 75% of these bookmarks are genealogy-related) on three different computers; the categories are similar, but no single computer has a consolidated list of bookmarks.

(4) Unnecessary duplication of files. I must have at least six “General Genealogy” paper files. I do have a separate file for genealogy forms and should consolidate or sort out the remaining papers.

(5) Not having a safe for valuable items. Like Cheryl Palmer at Heritage Happens, I keep important documents and precious mementos separate from my other genealogy files, but I still have them in a portable file box. (The idea is, if the house is burning down, I grab the cats and the file box and we’re outta there.)

(6) Not having old photos properly stored, organized, scanned, and catalogued. Whether in albums or containers, they should all be located in one convenient place. I probably cannot even begin to address this problem until my office has undergone a complete makeover.

Above: My computer work area, with office supplies on the storage shelves to the left. On the wall above the desk is an icon of Sveti Ioann Rilski (St. John of Rila), a Bulgarian saint. Some people appeal to St. Anthony when they lose things. Me, I go to St. John of Rila; he looks like an absent-minded kinda guy, himself. To the left of him are some fairy-themed party favors I made for my older daughter’s first-grade birthday party (she’s now 19).

Above: Storage shelves with many of my genealogy resources and family binders. The bottom shelf contains framed documents and pictures and a couple of bins with loose pictures and other family mementos. (The second shelf from the bottom contains mostly music CDs that I have not yet added to iTunes. I simply cannot work without music.)

A hand-drawn diagram (not to scale!!) of my home office/genspace.

What’s wrong with this picture? Lots of things. Things I intend to correct during the Year of the GenSpace Makeover! (But don’t hold your breath.)


  1. okay - so thankfully Im not the only one with a room thats just full to the top with stuff and I keep on saying "I'll get to it!" Love the idea of having party favors around that are 18 years old. No worries, none of us are coming for a visit right? You'll notice that I didn't participate in this edition of saturday night fun - with good reason! LOL

  2. Greta your space looks neat and tidy compared to mine. Like Cindy, I didn't participate in that Sat. Night blog....I would have been too embarassed!!!

  3. Neat peek into your work space-and your thoughts on your research methods. My desk is so cluttered I'd hate for anyone to see it :)

  4. Ha! I guess I have no shame:). I think the only reason my mess is not worse is that I have only been doing genealogy for three and a half years. In my defense, Cindy, those party favors are only 13 years old! It was for a birthday party when my daughter was in first grade.