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I would love to say that this post is an original idea, but that isn't true. It was inspired by a blog at

Chris Wake wrote a very effective post on the subject, which you can read here. I've only adapted these great points  to apply to genealogists.

1. Consuming more than you create -

An ineffective genealogist copies other people's family trees, research, and documents. They take without giving in return.

Effective genealogists provides new and original research (their own), and share with others.

Sharing is critical to keep this craft and our work alive and vibrant.

2. Watching your own vanity metrics - 

Everyone suffers from some level of vanity. Genealogists are no exception. We want recognition for our contributions to the craft. And for those of us who blog or use twitter, we love to check our 'stats' to see how many people have read today's post, how many followers,  or how many Klout points we have racked up. (And yes I use Klout, too).

Ineffective genealogists tend to focus on these markers off 'popularity' instead of the craft and presentation of their research. Effective genealogists use compliments, recommendations, and online metrics only to gauge which post or family line is engaging the most people. Family feedback allows a family genealogist to engage even more the family in gathering stories, data, and ephemera.

Enjoy the applause, but let it go to your head. Warm fuzzies don't break down brick walls!

3. Starting the day responding to others -

Allowing others to set the agenda for a day of research, especially for a non-paying project, is a hallmark of the ineffectual genealogist. Going online at the start of the day to respond to online requests, or demands, instead of planning a day of research gets you nowhere.

Effective genealogists start the day with an agenda, being flexible enough to adjust while still accomplishing their goal.

(Of course, you are like me, you may start the day with a few e-mails, some twitter, and numerous cups of coffee before becoming 'effective'. Just set a time limit. Let's call that the stretching before the workout!)

If you are not your own master, you are someone's servant.

4. Prioritizing the wrong activities -

Ouch! I am so guilty of this one. Doing busy work, taking 'side trips' during research, becoming distracted. My problem is I don't even realize that I'm too busy being busy!

An effective genealogist , as opposed to me, would recognize busywork for what it is and set proper priorities for the research goals they establish.

Work only counts if it gets the job done.  Anything else is wasted effort.

5. Relying on multi-tasking to "save time" -

Multi-tasking is not a natural part of the human experience. Machines multitask  but my name isn't Macintosh! Now we're not talking here about drinking coffee and reading a land-grant (not a good idea if you're clumsy with coffee!), but trying to do multiple important tasks expecting equally good results. Multitasking  is corporate doublespeak; it doesn't apply in the real world. And it is the hallmark of the ineffective genealogist. I should know; it takes one to know one!

An effective genealogist has a secret weapon, focus. By concetrating on one task at a time that task can be completed quicker. That leaves more time to do the remaining tasks, one at a time. The net result is to do more in less time and to do it effectively.

Do one task quickly, finish all tasks faster.

If you have hints or tips on being an effective genealogist please let me know. I need all the help I can get. And I'm sure the other readers could profit from it as well.


Copyright 2012 Randall Dickerson

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