Looking through DearMyrtle’s Jan 3rd-9th2016 Checklist might look overwhelming at first, but with any big task if you break it down into smaller more manageable pieces it will be easier.
Step 1 – Clear off the computer desk and make piles for everything. She suggested five basic categories: to be filed letters/email to write, research to do, photos and books. I have a dedicated computer room that is just mine. I have a large u-shape desk. My two monitors are located in the middle desk area; therefore I have desk space on the left and right of me. I try to keep the desk space on the left clear for projects. The Right side does seem to gather junk, which I do try to keep in piles. Years ago, when I moved into my computer room, I had already decided to move from a binder file system to a well-organized hanging file folder system. I also decided that nothing was going into this file folder system without being entered into my genealogy software. Therefore, I cleared out my old folders and binders and made a stack at that time. I have been attacking that stack, but I still have a stack about 12” high that needs addressing. I too had made piles before I started. However, I also had a garbage pile. I realized that some of my papers were obsolete. For example, when I used to belong to prodigy, I had printed out lots of messages and now those messages only had prodigy usernames, no real names, addresses or emails. This means these have no real research value anymore and thus I trashed them. Therefore, I already am ahead of the game because I have those piles she mentioned.
Step 2 – Check your office supplies and replace any missing or lost items, so you will have all the necessary tools to keep yourself organized. I consider myself an office supplies hoarder, therefore I have this covered in spades. I also get plenty of pens, pencils, highlighters, post-it notes and such from a trade show that my husband attends every year. I come home with such a nice pile of goodies that I have decided to scale back. However, this year many of the vendors where giving away small flash drives, these come in handy for taking on research projects or trips. I can have one for each project or trip and not get the information lost on a bigger flash drive. So instead of piles of papers, I just end up with a container of flash drives (less mess). I can always print something out later if I really want a printout.
Step 3 – Setup your computer desk and office the way you really want it! Again – I am ahead of the game when I moved into my computer room this is exactly what I did. A couple of years ago, I realized the benefit of two monitors and when my computer died, and I bought a new computer that came with a monitor, I instantly had two monitors. Love it.
I have my all-in-one printer to the left of my monitors in that “dead” space that is too hard for me to reach stuff. Behind my desk I have cabinets that store all my paper and office supplies. The desk I picked out had a hutch with two closed areas and an open shelf area. I started putting my books in the open area and in one of the closed areas; I have all my computer manuals, software manuals, hardware manuals and such. This way I can find any disk that I might need to reinstalled. In the other closed area, I have specialty papers and labels. I have a desktop printer stand so I can store extra paper under my printer (handy) and it has two drawers filled with post-it-notes and things.
One of my monitors is on a riser and I store scratch paper and little project notebook and miscellaneous items. I have found by having everything within arm’s reach, makes my life easier. I learned this from my working days.I did have to add a bookshelf next to my desk for my ever expanding book collection. Overall, I am pretty happy with my office layout, the biggest challenge is me where I don't put everything back when I am done.
Step 4 – Designate a special red clipboard as the “When computer Help Arrives” clipboard – Don’t need this because I am the computer nerd friend that my friends call. Therefore, I have to research all my own problems and try to figure it out. My backup plan is that I ask my eldest son for his advice and then go exploring some more on-line.
Step 5 – Designate a special green clipboard as the “Genealogy Challenges” clipboard – Currently I use my software package, Family Tree Maker for this purpose. I use my “private” research notes area to outline the basics of the problem and then create a to-do-list that references to look at my “private” research notes for this person.
I really liked that idea of a Snap and Lock file box for quickly storing papers from a recent research trip. Currently for me, those papers get placed on the corner of the right side of my desk. I must admit, this doesn’t really work for me and I don’t know why I keep doing it. I noticed I have stuff there from last year summer and now I have more to add from my October research trip. This is something I need to look more into.
As Ol’Myrt stated “it wasn’t that bad” and I can say “well not for me it wasn’t”. This is because I already had a big head start. My biggest challenge is to keep the left side of my desk organized and dealing with my recent research trip notes along with attacking the stack of old papers under my desk. Okay - I do have other challenges, but these are the biggest with regards to Ol'Myrt's checklist.