Tag Archives: planning

Five Goals You Should Set for 2020: Part 3, Business or Professional Goals

If you are a professional genealogist or want to be, then you may want to set some professional or business goals. This starts with an assessment of where you’ve been and where you’d like to be. I shared some of my business accomplishments for 2019 in a previous post. From those numbers, I can make some goals for 2020.

Typically, I assess areas where I am weak in business (marketing usually) and try to find some educational material to help me improve on that. I also assess my numbers from previous years and make some goals for the new year. For example, last year I presented two all-day seminars. For 2020, I’d like to double that. Or I might extend that goal to say in 2021 I’d like to have six all-day seminars scheduled.

I also look at the number of clients and/or client hours worked for each year. Some client projects are longer/larger than others, so the number of clients may be misleading. But I try to pay attention to both. Last year I had sixteen total NEW clients. Every year projects will overlap a bit so I try to focus on new clients, those that signed new contracts in the calendar year. However, several of those new clients renewed their contracts two, three, or four times. So I also pay attention to the number of client hours.

Now, you can’t just say “I’d like to double the number of clients I sign up this year” and expect that to work in your schedule. I still have a kid at home, one who just moved out, and a husband, so I need to plan for family time. I also, speak, write articles, and take consultation clients. I have to leave time for those activities, not to mention my own personal research and continuing education time. Having said that, there is a threshold bullet-2428875_1920that once met, you could hire a virtual assistant and/or subcontractors and take on even more clients. I haven’t met that threshold yet and so will cross that bridge when I get there!

So, take a look at your business or professional setting. Are there areas you’d like to expand? Are there areas you’d like to eliminate or phase out? (Sometimes letting go of one aspect of your business allows you to grow in another.) Would you like to take on more research clients? Speaking gigs? DNA consultations? Does public-speaking stress you out? If so, consider writing articles instead.

Find a way to track this information, whether it is in a spreadsheet, database, word processor, a notebook, something. Then you can have real data to work with. I personally use a combination of tools: Toggl (time tracking), 17Hats (client management), Quickbooks Online, and my Full Focus Planner (paper planner). It works for me. These systems are as individual as the people using them. Find something that will work for you.

Take an inventory of your business/professional life. Make some assessments. Set some goals. Be organized and methodical about those goals. But most of all, have fun doing it. Stretch yourself a little bit more every year.

Preparing for a Research Trip – Research Plans

2013-09-26 09.09.24 amOnce you have identified your research goals, you will need to make a plan to reach those goals. It is not enough to have a goal, a goal needs an action plan. This plan might consist of a list of steps, an inventory of sources, a map and itinerary of repositories to visit, and so forth. When planning a research trip, a research plan is vital to staying focused, being efficient and getting the most out of your time.

Your plan should cover these elements:

  • where you plan to visit
  • what records you plan to look at
  • what/who you expect to find in those records
  • brief biographical information on the ancestor to help you id the right person or other information such as a cemetery section to help you locate what you’re looking for

A plan can be expanded to also become your research log (see the next post for more details on the research log).

When traveling, I tend to drive if I have the time. I like being able to go to cemeteries, local libraries, history museums and courthouses that are on the way (or only slightly out of the way). I enjoy seeing the areas where my ancestors lived, walking on land they used to own, and seeing the documents they wrote with their own hands. You can’t really get a good idea of what our great country is like if you are in a plane 30,000 feet up. I do love a good road trip.

When planning your trip, use your genealogy software and locate target areas along the way. Seek out which cemeteries you could reasonably visit. Print out maps and directions to get you there. Planning ahead with a map is easy using tools like Google Maps. In 2011, I was on a very short trip visiting my relatives in Ohio. I planned a day’s tour through 4 cemeteries using Google Maps “My Places” feature. You can view the map here: Google Map of Cemetery Tour. Using this feature, I can locate the cemeteries, see the quickest route between them, make notes of the graves I am looking for – this was my research plan for that trip. [Tip: You can print these out in case there is a poor cell signal on your journey. There’s nothing worse than getting to a remote cemetery and not being able to access your research plan, trust me!]

The process of planning ahead can be fun, will give you the opportunity to be more efficient and will allow you to do some research you might have missed if you hadn’t planned ahead.

Preparing for a Research Trip – Setting Research Goals

notepadEstablishing why you want to do anything is always a good first step whether it is genealogy-related or in some other aspect of life. You can’t know if you made it if you don’t know where you are going. There are many books, blogs, magazines, TV shows and so forth about defining and researching your goals and all of those can apply to genealogy too.

What do you want to accomplish? What is the question(s) you wish to answer? If you are like me you have many, many, many research goals. Some common goals might be similar to the following:

  • Who were my immigrant ancestors?
  • Where are all of my 2xgreat grandparents’ graves?
  • Where was the family farm of my 3xgreat grandfather in Wood County, Ohio?
  • etc…

A research trip might be just the thing to find the answers to these questions. Before you go, be sure you have clearly defined your goals for the trip. These goals can take on many forms. I will go over research plans in a future post, but generally I start with a word document and I create a table for each of my research questions. In this table I will list each repository I wish to visit and what documents or record sets I plan on exploring. An electronic document is great because you can add to it and change it to meet your needs. I can add notes right into the table regarding my findings. This later helps with analysis and correlation of my data as well.

Defining your goals and research plans will save you a lot of time when you arrive at your research destination. I have been known to spend at least the first day during a research trip using the repository catalogs. What a waste of time! Working in the catalog of a repository is something that can usually be done at home now, there’s no reason not to be prepared.