Tag Archives: time management

Writing: Stay Focused!

Spread the like and love! #WhowearsthegenealogypantsWho among us genealogists doesn’t struggle with maintaining focus? We all know too well about finding a tantalizing record that sends us down a road that we find ourselves still traveling at 3 a.m. Lack of focus can happen in the writing aspect as well. Distractions are often procrastination in disguise, particularly if you find writing difficult. We will always find something to keep us from writing. Procrastination feeds writer’s block and forms a cycle that is hard to break. Below are a few of my tips for maintaining focus when writing.

When it comes to writing, time management is going to be your biggest asset for maintaining focus when writing. Try some of the following:

  • Set a daily or weekly goal. Try a target number of words per day or a number of pages.
  • Set a timer. Determine how many minutes you can work without interruption. I like to work for 50 minutes and then spend 10 minutes taking a break or doing another task such as folding laundry.
  • Set a daily focus. Maybe today you are going to only work on a certain topic such as those land records or wills you just haven’t taken the time to transcribe. Or maybe you’ll work on fixing up your citations. Or changing your passive voice (to be verbs) to active voice. Having one focus boosts progress.
  • Turn off interruptions. Turn off your phone or better yet put it in another room. Shut down your email program. Take off your smartwatch. Shut off the electronic doorbell. Whatever you’ve got that can interrupt you, shut it down. At least for the 50 minutes that you’ll be writing.
  • Schedule your time. And stick to your schedule. Find a consistent time in your schedule that you can dedicate to writing and give yourself PERMISSION to stick to that time. Set an appointment in your calendar. You are just as important as everything else in your calendar (if not more so).

When we allow ourselves to work on our own projects, and we make progress, it refills
us and gives us some of our passion for the project back. When I think about all of the
things I’m not getting done, it really weighs me down and takes away some of my enthusiasm. I find when I set aside time, and stick to my schedule, my energy, passion, and enthusiasm “bucket” gets refilled and I’m much happier.

I hope you’ll give it a try!

Top Tools I Use: Time-tracking

Whether you take clients or do genealogy as a hobby, I highly recommend you track your time on various tasks. I keep track daily of all my time spent on working (clients, administrative, marketing, writing proposals, etc.) and on volunteer tasks for the various societies I’m involved in. Then I can determine where I’m spending too much time or not enough time.┬áMy favorite tool for time-tracking is Toggl.


Above is the main workspace for Toggl on the website version. You can use the timer or enter time manually. You can set up clients (I have clients by name as well as the societies I’m involved in), set up projects, and then describe the particular task you are working on. You can see the top item on my example is “Blog post” (writing this very post), the “project” and the “client” both being GenPants, my business. You can see some other examples as well.

On the left are some options, the one I use most is “reports” which allows me to see how much time I’ve given to any given client or project over a period of time. You can choose by week, month, or year, or input a set of dates. I tend to do this at the end of the year or quarter when I reevaluate my goals and where to spend my time.toggl-desktop

Toggl also has a desktop application which I have open usually in the bottom right of my screen. I simply click on and off as I change between tasks throughout the day.

Keeping track of what you’ve done throughout the day, whether for work, personal, hobby, or volunteer, can help you tighten up your productivity or convince you that you did get some things done even if it doesn’t always feel like it at the end of the day. And it can help you reevaluate where you spend your time.

CG Renewal Time!

I recently received a helpful packet in the mail from the Board of Certification of Genealogists that my renewal application would be coming due soon. Where did five years go? (Well, four and a half, but still.) It seems like just yesterday I was putting the final spit and polish on my first portfolio!

Luckily, the renewal application process is not as rigorous as the initial application. You only have to submit one to three items as long as one meets the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). The main goal is to make sure you are continuing to grow in your journey as a Certified Genealogist, that you are keeping up your education, and that you are applying the standards to your work.

I have been working steadily to improve everything from my first portfolio and am not too worried, except for the lack of time I have to work on it! So I’ve been working hard to finish up and clear out some responsibilities I’ve had and to block time out in my schedule to work on it. Time management is such a trick sometimes!

I will keep you posted. In the meantime wish me luck and few interruptions!