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Episode 69 Alice the Genealogist Parts 3 & 4 Online Productivity

Episode 69 Alice the Genealogist Parts 3 & 4 Online Productivity

Video and Show Notes

This week we’re going to revisit two more early episodes of Elevenses with Lisa that will help you be more productive and organized no matter what device you using for your genealogy research. I’m bringing these episodes out from behind the Premium Membership paywall and making them available for free this week. These will be presented back-to-back as Live Video Premieres on my Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. Part 1 and part 2 of this short series can be found in episode 68. In part 1 we covered what makes us vulnerable to getting distracted, and how a research plan can help. In part 2 we talked about how to deal with BSOs (bright shiny objects!) In this episode 69 we will cover parts 3 (Mobile Organization) and 4 (Online Productivity Strategies).

How Alice the Genealogist Avoids the Rabbit Hole Continued…

Part 1 and part 2 of this short series can be found in episode 68. In part 1 we covered what makes us vulnerable to getting distracted, and how a research plan can help. In part 2 we talked about how to deal with BSOs (bright shiny objects!)

Part 3

In episode 68 we covered:

1. Use a Cloud-Notetaking Service

  • Get a free Cloud note-taking tool and use it consistently. (Examples include Evernote, OneNote, and Google Keep.)
  • Use the website, software, and/or app to capture unexpected finds while researching. Both Evernote and OneNote work on all platforms.
  • Your notes in your account will synchronize between your devices (depending on the program and plan you choose.) You can add to your notes or work with them anytime, anywhere.

2. Schedule BSO Time

I use Google Calendar to stay organized and schedule my BSO time. Create a BSO calendar, and then schedule BSO time on your calendar. These will help you remember to follow up. Knowing you have set aside time in the future to explore the BSO helps you mentally let them go and stay on track with your research plan.

In this episode:

3. Mobile BSO Organization

Success comes from pairing your research plan and process with a great supportive research environment. We have a variety of “environments” we work within such as:

  • On paper at our desk
  • On our mobile devices
  • On our computer
Mobile Genealogy Organization (Alice

Mobile Genealogy Organization

Let’s look at how we can set up a workflow for BSOs while mobile computing. My two favorite methods for capturing BSOs on a smartphone or tablet are 1) Cloud Notetaking, and 2) Home Screen “Bookmark Apps”.

Option 1: Cloud Notetaking

I’ll be using Evernote on an iPhone as an example. (You may see slight variations in the instructions depending on the service you use and your device.)

Evernote is a great choice if you want to easily sync and use your notes on all devices including your desktop computer and / or laptop computer.

Before you begin, you’ll need a free Evernote account at evernote.com. You’ll also need to download the free Evernote app from your device’s app store, and log into your account.

When you come across a BSO while researching online in a web browser (such as the Chrome or Safari app), here’s how to capture it:

  1. Tap the Share icon on the web page.
  2. Select Evernote from the menu. If you don’t see it tap More for the complete menu of available apps. If you still don’t see it, make sure you have downloaded the app.
    Tap More to find the Evernote app

    Tap More to find the Evernote app

  3. The app will open and should open a new note. Edit the note as desired.
    Edit the BSO note

    Edit the BSO note

  4. Tag the note with the “BSO” tag, as well as any other tags you find helpful.
    Tag with the BSO tag

    Tag with the BSO tag

  5. Tap Save.
  6. The note is now saved to Evernote. If you are on WiFi, Evernote will synchronize so that the note will be available from any device signed into your Evernote account.
    The BSO tagged note

    The BSO tagged note

Option 2: Home Screen “Bookmark Apps”

Keep in mind that these aren’t the same as “Bookmarks” found in your web browser apps. I call them “Bookmark Apps” because they do save a particular web page, and they look just like apps. In the menu this feature is called “add to home screen.” (see image)

Bookmark Apps are best for when you plan to do your BSO follow up on the same mobile device.

How to capture a BSO as a Bookmark App:

  • In your browser app, when you come across a BSO web page, tap the share icon.
  • Tap Add to Home Screen.
    Tap Add to Home Screen

    Tap Add to Home Screen

  • Edit the title so it will be easy to remember why you wanted to follow up on it.
  • Tap Add (iOS – this may be different on Android, or different browsers)
  • The web page “bookmark app” is now on your home screen.

Once you have created at least two BSO bookmark apps, you can then create a folder.

How to create a folder:

  • Move the bookmark app by pressing and holding it until it shakes.
  • Keep your finger on it and drag it onto the other BSO bookmark. This will create a folder.
  • Name the folder “BSO”.
  • Press the home button to save.
    Bookmark apps in the BSO folder

    Bookmark apps in the BSO folder

     

Now whenever you have some spare time you can tap the BSO folder and get back to one of those items that previously caught your eye.

How Alice the Genealogist Avoids Falling Down the Rabbit Hole Part 4

Creating a Supportive Computing Environment

The following tools are available for your computer desktop or laptop.

Restore Tabs

In addition to using Ctrl+Shift+T (Win) or Cmd+Shift+T (Mac) to restore a closed browser tab, you can also right-click on the new tab plus sign and select Reopen closed tab from the pop-up menu. You can do this multiple times and web pages will continue to open in the reverse-order that they were closed.

Turn Multiple Tabs into One and Save Memory with OneTab

Online genealogy research can leave you with a lot of open web browser tabs. While using multiple tabs allows you to jump back and forth between web pages and records, they can take up valuable computer memory.

You can dramatically reduce your memory usage with the OneTab extension available for both the Chrome and Firefox browsers. With one click, OneTab will combine your open tabs into a clickable list in one browser tab. You can even export the list for future reference.

Get OneTab in the Chrome Web Store here
Get OneTab in the Firefox Web Store here

Reduce Email Distractions

  • Gmail now has a Snooze feature which allows you to temporarily file an email until the date and time you select.
  • Snoozed emails will reappear in your Inbox at the scheduled time.
  • Retrieve snoozed emails at any time by clicking “Snoozed” in the menu on the left.

Get Back on Track with MyActivity

When you are signed into your Google account, MyActivity tracks the searches you conduct and the websites you visit. By visiting your MyActivity, you can search for and return to any previous activity. You can also turn it off. Go to MyActivity and click Activity Controls from the menu. Switch the slider to the off position. Visit MyActivity at https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity

Save Time by Previewing Your Google Search Results

Rather than clicking on each search result and loading the page (which also takes you away from the rest of your search results), use  the Google Results Previewer web extension for Chrome. Once installed you can simply hover your mouse over a result link to reveal a preview of the page. Then you can decide whether to click through or preview additional results.

Click here to get the Google Results Previewer web extension for Chrome.

Resources for Further Learning

Premium Members: download this exclusive ad-free show notes cheat sheet PDF.  Not a member yet? Learn more and join the Genealogy Gems and Elevenses with Lisa family here

Genealogy Gems Premium Videos:

  • Organize Your Online Life
  • Using Evernote to Create a Research Plan

Evernote Quick Reference Guide, by Lisa Louise Cooke. Available at Genealogy Gems Store

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership

Click to learn more about Genealogy Gems Premium Member

 

Episode 68: Avoid Rabbit Holes and Find More Genealogy

Episode 68: Avoid Rabbit Holes and Find More Genealogy

Video and Show Notes

We all need reminders now and then to work smart and stay focused. This week we’re going to revisit two early episodes of Elevenses with Lisa that will help you do just that. I’m bringing them out from behind the Premium Membership paywall and making them available for free this week. We’ll cover concrete strategies for staying focused on what matters most, while not losing track of opportunities that present themselves. You’ll also learn about free tech tools that you can put in place to give you peace of mind, take back those lost hours, and help you be more productive. 
 
These will be presented back-to-back as Live Video Premieres on my Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. In part 1 we’ll cover what makes us vulnerable to getting distracted, and how a research plan can help. In part 2 we’ll talk about how to deal with BSOs (bright shiny objects!)

How Alice the Genealogist Avoids the Rabbit Hole Part 1

Don’t let unexpected genealogical finds send you down a rabbit hole any longer. We’ll cover concrete strategies for staying focused on what matters most, while not losing track of opportunities that present themselves. You’ll also learn about free tech tools that you can put in place to give you peace of mind, take back those lost hours, and help you be more productive.

Vulnerability to Rabbit Holes

In order to improve in anything, you have to know your vulnerabilities. When it comes to falling down a genealogical rabbit hole I’ve identified 5 of the most common vulnerabilities:

  1. Not having a crystal-clear research question
  2. Not having your next steps mapped out
  3. Not having a specific method for dealing with BSOs (bright shiny objects)
  4. Not implementing that method consistently
  5. No muscle to stick with your plan

We’re going to tackle 1, 2, and 3 above. With these in place I believe you’ll feel confident and take care of 4 & 5!

1. Write a Research Question

Before beginning your research, take a moment to write out your research question or statement. It will help guide you and keep you on task.

Think about what you want to specifically accomplish. State your goal in specific terms:

“Identify the village in Germany where Louise Nikolowski and her family were from so I can locate church records.”

Effective Research Questions

(Per the Board of Certification of Genealogists)

Genealogy Standards #10:

Questions underlying research plans concern aspects of identity, relationship, events, and situations. The questions are sufficiently broad to be answerable with evidence from relevant places and times. They are sufficiently focused to yield answers that may be tested and shown to meet or not meet the Genealogical Proof Standard.”

Genealogical-research questions:

  • clearly describe a unique person, group, or event as the focus of the question
  • clearly state what kind of information that you’re hoping to discover, such as an identity, relationship, event, or biographical detail.

Keep this research question in front of you by:

  • printing it out and setting it in front of your monitor
  • putting it on a “sticky” note on your computer’s desktop (virtually or physically!)
  • writing it at the top of your physical or virtual notebook.

2. Map Your Next Moves

Break your primary research question down into smaller, individual research questions.

According to Elizabeth Shown Mills, after analyzing the existing data:

“we prepare a research plan that defines:

  1. the resources to be explored
  2. the strategies to be applied
  3. the individuals who are to be included in that search
  4. any special circumstances that will affect the project.”

Example Question: Where is the birthplace of Gustav Sporowski (father of Alfreda) who resided in Gillespie, Illinois in 1910-1918?

Actionable Steps

Here are examples of questions to be answered that support the research question:

Question 1 – Did he apply for citizenship? If so, what is listed?
Question 2 – Find passenger list: what place of origin is listed?
Question 3 – What was listed for other passengers accompanying him? (If any)
Question 4 – Where are other Sporowskis from that are listed in passenger lists?

For each question above, make a list of the resources (records) you need to find to answer these questions, and where you plan to look for them. Track the outcome.

 “we prepare a research plan that defines:

  1. the resources to be explored
  2. the strategies to be applied
  3. the individuals who are to be included in that search
  4. any special circumstances that will affect the project.”

 

Part 2 Video and Show Notes

Don’t let unexpected genealogical finds send you down a rabbit hole any longer. In this episode I cover concrete strategies for staying focused on what matters most, while not losing track of opportunities that present themselves. You’ll also learn about free tech tools that you can put in place to give you peace of mind, take back those lost hours, and help you be more productive.

Identify BSOs (Bright Shiny Objects)

You can’t avoid danger (to your current research plan) if you don’t know what it looks like! My test will help you determine if what has caught your eye while researching online is a BSO.

how to identify a bso

How Alice identifies a BSO

Take the BSO Test:

  1. Does this get me closer to answering my research question?
  2. On a scale of 1 – 10 how potentially critical is this to my research?
  3. Am I willing to give up finding the answer to my research question to pursue this?

Once you’ve identified BSOs, it’s time to implement a process for dealing with them so you can stay focused on our research question, as well as return to the BSO to explore its potential.

5 Ways to Capture & Return to BSOs

1. Use a Cloud Note-taking Service

Get yourself a free Cloud note-taking tool (Evernote, OneNote, Google Docs, etc.) and use it consistently. Use the website, software, and/or app to capture unexpected finds while researching.

I happen to use Evernote. If you’re new to Evernote, here’s a quick video that will help explain it to you.

Here’s an example of how I use Evernote to capture BSOs:

  • Create a tag in Evernote called BSO.
  • Each time you come across something that tempts you to deviate from your current focus, clip it and tag it with the BSO tag. This will allow you to move on with your research plan with confidence, knowing that it will be easy to locate and pursue the BSO later.
  • Add additional tags if desired to help you remember what it was about or why it interested you, such as a surname tag.
  • Evernote notes can have multiple tags, so use them.
  • Annotate the note to provide additional information as to why the BSO caught your eye, and what you plan to follow up on later.
  • Evernote will attach a link to the page where you clipped the item to the note. This means with one click you can return to the original source. 
Notes tagged in Evernote

Notes tagged in Evernote

The benefit of using a Cloud-based note-taking tool is that your notes will be available to you on all your devices (depending on whether you have a free or subscription plan.) You can add additional information to your notes, and work with them anytime, anywhere.

Use Snagit to do Your Screen Clipping

You can also use Snagit to do your screen clipping and annotations. Automatically send the completed image to Evernote via the Share feature, or Copy and Paste it into a new note.

Learn more about this powerful screen clipping tool:
Elevenses with Lisa episode 61– How to use Snagit for genealogy
Elevenses with Lisa episode 67 – Advance clipping techniques with Snagit

Use coupon code: GENEALOGY15 to save 15% on Snagit. Thank you for using my link for purchasing your copy of Snagit. (We will be compensated at no additional cost to you, which makes the free Elevenses with Lisa show and notes possible.) Don’t worry if it initially shows as Euros in the cart. When you enter your address including country, it will convert the currency appropriately.

snagit for genealogy

Save 15 % with my exclusive discount code.

2. Schedule BSO Time

One of the main reasons we get side-tracked by BSOs while working online is that we are afraid if we don’t look at it right now we’ll lost it or never go back to it. By scheduling time  specifically for working on tagged BSOs, you will feel more confident about letting them go while you are working on a research plan.

I schedule my time in the free Google calendar. You can have several different calendars (i.e. categories of types of things you schedule.) Create a “BSO” calendar and color code it so it’s easy to spot. Schedule BSO time and follow up items as future events on your calendar. Set Notifications and Email Reminders for each item.

Schedule your BSO time

Create a “BSO” calendar

Scheduling BSO times means you can mentally let them go for now! 

Resources

Show Notes PDF – click here to download the show notes PDF for this episode. (Premium Membership log in required.) 

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership

Click to learn more about Genealogy Gems Premium Membership.

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 255 – National Archives Catalog

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 255 – National Archives Catalog

The U.S. National Archives Online Catalog for Genealogy

In this episode Lisa Louise Cooke will answer important questions such as:

  • What kind of genealogy records can be found at the National Archives website?
  • Which genealogy records are not available at the National Archives?
  • How do I search for records at the National Archives online Catalog?
  • How can I retrieve only digital items from the National Archives Catalog?
  • How can I get better search results in the National Archives Online Catalog?
  • How do I download files from the National Archives Website?
  • What is the Record Group Explorer?

This audio comes from my YouTube video series Elevenses with Lisa episode 40.

Listen to the Podcast Episode

To Listen click the media player below (AUDIO ONLY):

Watch the Original Video:

 

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Log into your Premium membership and then click here to download the handy PDF show notes that compliment this podcast episode. 

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Podcast Resources

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Show Notes: The audio in this episode comes from Elevenses with Lisa Episode 40. Visit the show notes page here.

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