Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A View of Everyday Life

I have started working with a study group on Facebook known as US-REC with Valerie Elkins and Tonia Kendrick. We are studying Val Greenwood's book, The Researcher's Guide to American Research and working through assignments, culminating in a final project about 15 months from now.  I heard about the group through another wonderful blog, Reflecting on Genealogy.

Our first assignment was to look at our organizational skills.  We were given 20 questions to answer on a scale of 1 – 4. While I didn’t fail miserably, (20 – 30 point range, for which I was much relieved), I didn’t exactly score well. My answers barely fell in the next category (35 in the 31 – 50 range, where I was told “You have made a good start, but probably have the nagging feeling that you need to “get organized.”

What, of course, stood out in this response was the words “nagging feeling”.  Truth be told, it has taken me a while to write on this assignment because I realized it has more to do with my life than genealogy.  Genealogy is just another in a long list of casualties.  Organization of any sort is my #1 bug-a-boo, with its sworn enemy, procrastination.  What I have come to realize since taking this questionnaire on Saturday is that I am sorely lacking in this area of my life.

Now, the good news is…I am in the right place.  I have shared with you that something is happening and I have invited you all along for the ride…and I never said it was going to be smooth sailing.  The “nagging feeling” has finally been acknowledge out loud, and so now I can take measures to problem solve and hopefully find a solution. 

Where I am right now is best described as “organized chaos”.  I totally blame my dad, lol.  An accountant by trade, he used to have scraps of papers all over his desk long before the advent of computers.  However, he could call you on the phone from out on the road, direct you to said scrap of paper (in a pile, behind the phone, next to the adding machine, etc.) and find the information he needed.  That is much the same for me.  I know where everything is, it is just not at my fingertips.  That is where I need to work.

The final part of my assignment was to pick three things from the list that I want to change.  What I noticed was that there was a general theme to where I was failing miserably…one could call it “follow through” or “finish what you start”.  You will probably hear more about these things in upcoming blogs.

However, for the moment, here are the three areas I have chosen to work on in the coming days/weeks/months…ya, it may take THAT long.

·     Record and file the results of each search before I begin another search. (Do not ask me how many windows and tabs I have open on any given day.)

·     Regularly prepare short research summaries when I reach a stopping point, so that I can quickly pick up the line of research again, whether it is days, months, or years later. (I do have “to-do” lists. Either I can’t remember why or they are months/years past their “due dates”.)

·     Write regular research reports to myself, just as I would for a client. (This one never even crossed the radar…what a concept!)

I’ll keep you updated on how well I am doing with each of these areas (and possibly others; there was a long list).  I have often found that when I am accountable, I tend to be able to drive away the big, mean, procrastination monster.

©2011, copyright Penny Sexton Brennan


  1. Penny, these look like three very do-able goals. A number of us have identified the same needs... so it looks as if we will be able to mutually manage accountabilities and share insghts as we go along. God work!

  2. Good post, Penny! These are all things that I need to work on, as well. Short research summaries is one of my personal goals for this assignment and I've noticed a lot of others choosing it also.

    And, accountability really does make a difference, doesn't it. Something about not wanting to disappoint others?

    Anyway, good luck and glad to have you in the group!

  3. Nice job, Penny! It looks like most of us have similar goals, particularly with respect to research summaries and reports on our own research. (I also read your other posts...welcome to the world of blogging!)

  4. Nice post. Look forward to watching and growing with you.