So many ancestors; so little time. With the number of ancestors doubling with each generation, it doesn’t take too long for it to feel a bit much. Add to the mix all of the different types of things you want to find and the projects you want to complete and you have a recipe for genealogy overwhelm. Fortunately, there are some ways to dial back the stress.
Set a Goal
Ok, stop laughing. “Genealogy” and “focus” are not mutually exclusive. Setting a goal can help you stay focused. I’ve written before about SMART genealogy goals and I remain a firm believer in how they can help us stay on track. Rather than saying, “I’m going to do genealogy tonight,” say “I’m going to look for George Debolt’s parents.” Actually say it. It will plant the seed as to the purpose of your activities.
Focus on a Branch, Not the Whole Tree
Feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of families to research is common, especially when you start a new project. I recently felt that way when I started researching my daughter’s fiance’s family tree. (So many new families in new locations!) Finally, I had to decide which line I was going to concentrate on first. The other lines would just have to wait. Doing this has made my research more effective, as it allowed me the ability to dive deeper on this line and make more discoveries than I would have otherwise.
(Start to) Organize
Keeping all of your genealogy stuff organized is a neverending task and it’s super easy to fall behind. Piles of files and stacks of books are enough to stress out any family historian. Though filing isn’t the most exciting part of genealogy, we do need to do it, whether we’re talking about paper files or digital files.
It’s something that I struggle with. Professional organizer and genealogist Janine Adams schedules time in the morning for her research, even if it’s just 15 minutes. We could take her same approach with going through all those stacks of paper. Set a timer for 15 minutes and start to attack the pile. You won’t get the whole room done at once, but every little bit helps.
Remember: It’s a Journey. Your Journey.
Family history is inherently personal. There are many paths that we can take with it. It’s important to remember that your genealogy journey doesn’t have to be like your friend’s journey. Maybe your friend is researching her in-law’s family. You don’t have to research yours if you don’t want to. Maybe another friend is putting together family history videos. If video isn’t your thing, don’t sweat it. Find your own “thing.”
What makes you feel overwhelmed in your genealogy? Let’s talk about it.