And I believe time management is, like the concept of "balance," an illusion. Time is going to do what it's going to do and we can't manage a thing about it. We can, however, manage how we spend that time.
The number one thing that keeps us from working on genealogy? Not having enough time. So the first recommendation I have is to make time. If you need to literally schedule time in your datebook or planner or on your calendar just to sit down and work on research, then do it.
Having a plan helps, of course. Maybe you want to spend the time focusing on a specific ancestor or geographical location or surname. Try writing down your intention. I always maintain a day planner and a separate to-do list, which keeps my research focused on specific goals.
Continuous butt-in-chair time isn't the healthiest thing in the world, though. I know, since I get it constantly, every day both for writing and genealogy. So what to do?
The Pomodoro Technique is fairly popular and one way to work in sprints, take a break to refresh yourself and then get back to it. The general formula is to work 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, work 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, etc. For every 4 25-minute segments completed, you take a longer break of about 15 to 30 minutes.
This can help you break up tasks and goals into manageable pieces to get them done, and the breaks keep your mind fresh. However, this process isn't for every person or every task, goal or intention.
In some cases, your research area might not be comfortable enough to keep you going for longer periods of time, so it is crucial to ensure your chair and desk are at the appropriate heights for your usage. A standing desk might be a good solution for someone with back problems or who cannot sit for long periods of time.
Of course, even if you have a plan and a "time management" technique, the most important thing is to remove distractions. It's far too easy to get caught up in social media, email and more. This is one of the reasons I love to go to the local diner to write - because I don't have a smart phone and they don't have wifi, I don't get caught up in any distractions. Granted, with genealogy it's a little trickier, because we conduct so much of our research online.
But try to focus - close Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or any other social media manager you might use. Set aside or even turn off your smart phone. Maybe you do better with background noise, such as music. If that's the case, try to avoid a radio or TV station that might pique your interest and divert your focus from the research plan for the day.
It might help to have certain days of the week set aside for certain tasks, such as one day devoted to filing paperwork and/or organizing digital files, another day devoted to photos, and then your research time scheduled for the remaining days of the week.
I know when I sit down at the computer to work, it's with a snack, a drink and a plan, and it is with pleasure that I shut out everything else around me and see what I can discover that day.
Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan