Getting Organized: Processing Documents

IMG_3897
My desk still looks like this!

In this series, I’ve demonstrated all aspects of my genealogical organization system, my binders, my digital organization, handling citations, and other aspects of my system. This post will talk about the overall process or steps that I make sure I follow when I find a new document. Whether it is a document you download, a screenshot, a paper copy that I end up scanning, I make sure it undergoes the following steps (they don’t have to be done in a particular order):

  1. Find a document.
  2. Write the citation. I write it first in my master list of citations.
  3. Paste the citation into your genealogy software of choice and attach the image.
  4. Paste the citation onto the image either by using an image editor or by putting it into a word processor and adding a text box.
  5. Name the digital file in a way that allows your file to organize chronologically (or whichever system you prefer).
  6. Print the document and put it in the binder in the appropriate location.

I try to do this as I go, though to be honest, when I’m working quickly during a research session, I often make a folder titled “to do.” Then I dump the many documents into that folder to process later. When I do that, at the very least, I do write the citation while I have the needed information in front of me, then I do the rest of the process at a later time. Sometimes these folders get quite full. When that happens, I schedule a time to focus on nothing but getting caught up.

I want to stress that even though I’ve shared my system, it is up to you to find a system that works for you. The system that works for you is the one that makes sense to your choice of software, one that you can follow, one that makes sense to YOU and how you work.

Best of luck to you with your organizing quests!

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