19 January 2012

Finding Release: Taming Information Overload

After a particularly stressful 2011, I've taken the cue that I need to divest myself of the many things in my life that are weighing me down, whether tangible (ala' my midsection) or less so (my messy desktop).

So I've been paying particular attention to things that stress me out. Particularly when they are intertwined with things that I happen to enjoy. And in doing so I recently figured out that something I enjoy--reading genealogy blogs-- and the way in which I enjoy them--via Google Reader--was really giving me steam.

You see, besides the genealogy blogs, I was subscribed to innumerable cooking, parenting, investing, financial, crafting, lifestyle, real estate, writing and couponing blogs. As you can imagine, my Google Reader was overflowing with information, articles, tips, resources, blah blah blah that I, for some reason, felt beholden to subscribe to, lest I fall short of the perfect person with the beautiful life that reading all of these blog posts would surely turn me into.

I love a good read, but every morning when I first sat at my computer, my Google Reader seemed to be screaming at me:

1000+ Unread!!!!!!

Now, I take my responsibilities seriously, so I would conscientiously page through the posts, one by one, looking for intellectual or practical enlightenment, until my eyes glazed over, and I had spent my few hours of babysitter-sponsored free time consuming the content of others, and not producing a damn thing--poor form for a freelance writer. Not to mention that I was more ornery, slovenly in posture and outraged at my lack of productivity after the fact than I was before.

So I did what anyone in their right mind would do.

I shut off the spigot.

That's right. I had over 200+ subscriptions to various blogs, amassed throughout the past four years.

And I unsubscribed from them all.

And just for one moment, I could hear the beautiful sounds of silence.

But, of course, I need to be in the loop. I can't miss out on hot and heavy genealogical discussions like who posts the most interesting fevered rantings on citations, or whether or not my backyard chickens are practicing genealogy as a hobby or simply as amateur professionals.

So I began to recreate my subscription list, based upon two things:

1. The blogs I recall reading, and recall enjoying. That was about ten.
2. The blogs from which I had recently starred posts. This added about ten more.

Everything else, I either can't remember ever reading, or they never did me any good, so good riddance!

In the two weeks since I staunched the flow, I find that I look forward to my morning Google Reader list, instead of fearing it like I used to.

Good posts from authors I like on topics that I enjoy aren't swamped into oblivion by posts from hundreds of otherblogs in which I don't have any real interest. And after about fifteen minutes of reading, I am greeted by a beautiful sight, that lets me tackle the rest of my day with a cheery heart and a non-stressed brain:

10 January 2012

Genealogy Resolutions- The 2012 Edition

The title to this blog post may be a little disingenuous, seeing as how I don't put much stock into resolutions. Case in point, last year I was supposed to run in my first official 5k, and while I gave it my best shot, I'm still fatter and more out of shape than I was at this time last year! Why? Life. Life intervenes, and the best of intentions (and resolutions) get pushed to the side.

This year, my personal resolutions (which I have no moral imperative to keep, by the way) include running my 5k. This is the third year running (no pun...) that it's appeared on my list. And while the pursuit of it keeps me on the treadmill (and yes, I CAN run 3 miles, although it takes me about 45 minutes), who knows if I'll make it. One year I had a baby. A 5k was asking too much. Last year, I broke my toe, which slowed me down, as you may imagine.

At any rate, here I am. This year, I'm angling to do the 5k all over again. And much like the 5k, there are some genealogical resolutions hanging around my head like sticky cobwebs. I'll try in 2012 to get this stuff done, but who knows what'll happen... break my thumbs and havenospacesinanyofmyblogposts, probably.

So here we go:

1. Finally fix all of the fudged citations from my 2010 migration from PAF to FTM. It's only been two years, and I only have a few thousand people in my database. You'd think this would be simpler.

2. Publish another article in a genealogical journal. Last one was in 2008, which was back when my son took two two-hour naps a day, and I had lots of time to sit around. Now I have a preschooler and a toddler and cheerios in my slippers. Prospect for getting this one done? Depends upon whether or not the babysitter quits on me!

3. Create to-do lists for each direct ancestor, then follow up on those to-do lists. I love lists, but sometimes I love making them more than I do completing the tasks on them. We'll have to see if I can move past the prepping stage, and get into a rolling boil on this.

4. Attend at least one genealogy seminar, meeting, webinar or conference. Last year I managed to volunteer for Ancestry Day in SF, which was great. And I know that I'll be registering to go to NGS in Vegas in 2013 (yay!)... so I think the will is there, it's all about scrounging up the way.

5. Reorganize my paper research files. Right now everything is split between folders and files. I'm realizing from the number of times that I shut the file drawer in disgust or stomp away from the bookcase that having both wastes my time, because I never know in which area my files are. Right now I'm leaning toward folders, because I like the portability.

6. Organize my digital files. They're on the computer, in surname folders. But they're not tagged, they're not named in any one convention, and I don't have any easy way of knowing what photos I have. I hate re-discovering things that I already have on my hard drive!

7. Get in more research time. This is one of those nebulous ones, but I'm trying to make 2012 more about working on the things that I love. Last year's rebirth into the working world (via my freelance writing) was great, but it sapped all of my research time. More balance is what I need, and I can rationalize it all away by saying that I'm building fodder for my forthcoming genealogy journal article... whatever that may end up being.

I'll check in on April 1st to see if I'm totally fooling myself with my resolutions this year. Probably, but hey.... maybe I'll have been extra busy working up a sweat on the treadmill!