Breaking the Habit

Wait a minute, what kind of habit are we talking about here?

Hold your horses, nothing crazy is going on here. I’m talking about my habit. Don’t worry this is not an Ancestry bashing post. This isn’t even a post about how disappointed I am in Ancestry. While there are some problems with the website, as a website owner, I’m sympathetic to issues that pop up.

So why are you breaking your Ancestry habit then?

To be upfront, I fully intend to imbibe in my favorite genealogy website later. That’s right I said favorite. It’s my first genealogy love, it’s the one that I learned on. It however… expired on me. I didn’t have the subscription saved up to pay up front for it, so I decided to break my habit. I was not going to go into credit card debt just to keep Ancestry. Aren’t you proud? I’m trying being all grown up and stuff. Ha!

ancestry screenshot

Why are you posting about your Ancestry subscription?

Well, this technically isn’t about Ancestry. You see when I switched from Family Tree Maker to Legacy, I did that because I felt I had no other choice. I made myself only use Legacy. Once I figured it out and got comfortable with it, I don’t even miss the other software. No more switching back and forth. There is just one software for me.

I realized this week that I haven’t been using other sites that I’ve paid for because I’m so comfortable with Ancestry. I’m used to it. It’s easy to just jump on and get to work. I could be missing some great things about other websites and I don’t even know it.

Why pay for the other sites if you love Ancestry so much?


Aren’t you all so happy I laugh at myself and talk to myself in these blogs? Anyway, I had gotten a subscription to Find My Past last year at a discounted rate. I was in Florida helping with my newborn niece and nephew. I was in baby zone and I had no time to spend money. There I was on a rare day in Florida sunshine and my brother, sister in law and the babies were out. Then I saw IT. Not the horror movie, but a 50% off sale on one year of Find My Past. I hadn’t spent money in so long and it was so quiet! I grabbed it. I used it for some English research and then forgot about it.

findmypast screen shot

You forgot about it?

That’s right, don’t judge me. I said there were BABIES! Anyway, it wasn’t until I got a notice that my Find My Past subscription was successfully renewed that I remembered. Good job cancelling that auto renew feature! I’m so on top of things sometimes.

So that’s how I got a whole year of Find My Past that I didn’t really mean to get. I’m an adult though and it’s my blunder and I’m going to make the best of it. I mean I paid for it already, I might as well give it a fair chance.

This is where MyHeritage also comes in

Don’t tell us that you forgot about MyHeritage too. Oh no, I did that one a month before Find My Past auto renewed. I again went for a great deal and this one is supposed to be price locked as long as I don’t cancel. That means I now have a year of My Heritage and Find My Past and I’m giving myself that year to get comfortable with them or get so frustrated with them that I make the informed decision to be done with them.

myheritage screen shot

Unfortunately for you guys, you’ll probably be hearing about it. I have no idea how this is going to go. Who doesn’t love a good cage match between two genealogy websites?

Cage Match… Really?

Okay so I’m not a cage match person and I’m not really pitting one against the other. I’m just seeing what each has to offer. Between their databases and their search algorithms, and the user interface. I’m not talking about prettiness. I’m talking about ease of use. How hard is it to actually find things?

How is this going to work?

The great thing is that when I started my Genealogy Do-Over, I didn’t have access to MyHeritage and I didn’t have access to Find my Past until last year when the babies were born.

This means that I’m going to go back through my list on these websites and see if there are any additional records that I can find that weren’t on Ancestry. In my mind most of the basics should all be the same but something should stand out on each site quickly. I can’t wait to see what happens. 

Has anyone out there done the same? Do you have a favorite site of the big ones? (Ancestry, MyHeritage, Find My Past, FamilySearch) Am I missing any?

Genealogy Do-Over: Roadblock

Okay, I missed some 52 Ancestors posts, but for a good reason! I was in Florida for a week visiting my niece and nephew for their first birthdays and just didn’t get the time managed to post. Now that I am home, I am facing a whole new challenge. With a new round of the Genealogy Do-Over starting in January, I wanted to re-assess my processes and where I am currently at with my research.

What I am doing right

  • The great news is I’m still doing things in a very methodical way. I am using documents and entering data first into Evidentia, then into my genealogy management program, and then into my Research Log. Once that is done, I update my checklist in Excel.
  • I haven’t entered any further ahead then what the documents show. Sometimes this is hard, especially as I’m trying to catch up on answering genealogy e-mails. I’m even thinking about a way of logging who I’ve talked to about what and how long it’s been since I communicated. That way I can start with the oldest response and work my way forward.

What I need to Improve

  • At some point, it got way too overwhelming to try and keep so many trees synced. My Legacy file is my most up to date, but at some point because of Ancestry’s hinting system, I just deleted my fresh tree and started updating my oldest tree there as I went. Which obviously provides a huge problem. Working with the old tree is not working for me. It makes me want to leap ahead, it tempts me to make assumptions. So now I feel like I should go back to a fresh tree. I could upload a Gedcom later, but then it wouldn’t be linked to my sources. That defeats the purpose of what I was trying to do. I’m trying to put well sourced, documented trees up on every site I can. I thought the old one was better because it was attached to my DNA results, but now I’m just not sure. I stopped making changes to all online trees except for the Ancestry DNA tree.  Trying to keep everything up to date on Ancestry, Find My Past, My Heritage, Family Search, and various Family Tree DNA sites was just too much!
  • When I started my Do-Over, I moved ALL digital files onto a separate drive and titled the folder “Hold Over”. I haven’t touched it since. That means there are pictures, documents, and various other things over there that need to be brought over and organized. I assumed I would do that as I went as well. My previous numbering system made it very hard to tell which documents I had for different people. One of the things I’m trying to do is to rename everything over in the old folder to my new system so I can at least see what I have. A lot of them are digital files that will be able to be deleted as I go along, but some of them are scans of purchased documents and I don’t want to miss those by accident.

It’s not all bad

Despite what my bullet points say, I am doing really well with this process. I feel like I am taking more time to analyze things and to organize them which was my point in starting over in the first place. With a quick adjustment, I think it’s going to start coming along nicely again. I’ve hesitated to work on it because I was still trying to decide what to do about those other trees.

What do you guys do about trees on various sites? Do you upload Gedcoms or do you manually enter in? Is my over-thinking nature coming out again, does it even matter?

My DNA Database Status

It’s time to talk about my DNA matches again. I’ve been immersing myself in my matches. One of the Facebook groups I am a member of told me that the best way to learn about your DNA is to get familiar with your results. That’s what I’ve been focusing on since it’s way too cold to be outside…

Okay, I probably wouldn’t have been outside anyway. It’s never been my thing.

Where were we?

My Final List of 2nd and 3rd cousins

The last time I posted about my DNA, this chart was where I left things. I was going through trying to identify my public tree matches to see what I could tell about them. Everything is listed in my Excel spreadsheet. While I was going through, I also made a point of adding a star and note to each match that I identified. Boy am I glad I did that now. Wait until I show you this!

That was very clever of me!

To save screen space, I will just tell you I got a bunch of new matches over the holiday. That left me with a lot of stuff to add to my database. No problem, I have a process for that! Well, as you all know new matches don’t usually have trees. That’s okay, I’m sure some will put some up eventually. In the meantime, I can still work with that. For purposes of our example, Let’s say I have a new DNA match named New Cousin. He’s awesome because he chose to share his DNA matches with us and that’s alright in my book.

New Cousin and my Starred Matches

Woah there, that’s a lot, what am I looking at?

I’m glad you asked! Okay, above this text you should see a list of my shared matches with New Cousin. The special treat is that I’ve been adding stars and comments to each match I’ve identified. What you see above is what happened when I clicked that starred matches button at the top of my screen.

When I look at my notes for each person, I started to notice a pattern. Besides the two William and Anna matches at the bottom and my 2nd Cousin match at the top, the list is definitely favoring a Joseph Slusher and Nancy Wade descendant.

I am extremely lucky and cursed.

As well all know with DNA matches, this isn’t a given result for everyone. You have to be lucky enough to have the information given by your matches and then you have to know how to extract as much information from as little information as you can. On top of that luck, there was another little factor that worked to my advantage.

Mays and Slusher Families (Unofficially)

Mays and Slusher Families

It just so happens that three Mays children married three Slusher children. Given the size of the families, before that fact is taken into account, odds were always very good that I would have a lot of Mays and Slusher matches. The interesting part is that most of these matches aren’t coming from the Mays sections of the Slusher tree. My ancestor John Mays only had 3 children survive to adulthood and they only had a few children themselves. Some of these families were very prolific. One grandson of Joseph and Nancy had 20 children! Allegedly, of course, all this could be thrown in the cold, snowy night if my Do-Over takes a dramatic turn. Hopefully not though! HA!

Note: I am using my old file to keep up with DNA match correspondence, though I am upfront with everyone that I am re-entering everything from the beginning.

Genealogy Do-Over: Plateau

This series of posts are based on the Genealogy Do-Over Workbook by Thomas MacEntee. I highly recommend it. 🙂 I just want to say there are parts of this workbook that I am not posting about, so if you would like the full set of tasks, then visit Thomas’ page or purchase the workbook.

If you haven’t been able to tell by my lack of posts, I’ve hit a plateau in my Do-Over. It doesn’t have to do with a brain block, a brick wall, or lack of information. I have plenty to do, and I know exactly what I’m supposed to do next. I’ve even ordered some new records. For some reason, I’m just struggling to get moving on any of it. I’m unsure if it’s just a little bit of burnout, the holidays, or just an overall tiredness.

Current Status

Current Status

The screenshot above shows my public DNA tree at It’s the easiest way to show the progress I’ve made in my Genealogy Do-Over. As I move through my list, I delete or update people in the public tree. It’s quite obvious that I’m on the John Mays/Celia Slusher section of the tree. I have been uploading documents and pictures to all the trees that are public on any of the DNA websites.

This takes quite a bit of time. There are days that I only work with one record.

Are there any big changes that you’ve had to make?

Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, death certificate 639 (1927), Harmon Mays; digital image, FamilySearch ( accessed 5 Dec 2017).

Though it’s not a big change, I did change John Mays’ name from John Harmon Mays in my database to John Mays. This death certificate is the only official document I’ve found referring to this man as Harmon. The only other instance was the cemetery plot records. Notice that his son Harmon Mays is the informant on this record. That leaves the possibility of “operator error” when asked Full Name at the top of the document. For now, Harmon is just an alternate name in my database and no longer an accepted form of his name.

The second change was John’s birth date. Its unclear to me if it was my error at the time or if I just trusted the transcription. I believe I had this record in a paper copy before it was put online, so I think it was probably me. Most online trees even agree on the original date of 4 Sep 1872. However, upon reviewing this again, I do believe it is 24 Sep 1872. Which doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but it just goes to show I’m paying much closer attention to details now.

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday seasons. I hope to have another DNA entry up in the new year!

DNA Matches – Notes Section

After my previous post, some of you may be wondering what goes into the Notes section of my Excel spreadsheet. This is actually the first time I’m writing down this process, so I’m hoping it makes sense to someone other than myself!

Step One

My DNA Matches – Step One

My first step is to take a visual look at my matches. The results you see above are my matches closer than 4th cousin. With my working knowledge of the family tree, I’m able to tell just by looking at these matches who 50% of them are. That’s including my father. I’ve obviously edited out the pictures and names of the matches to protect their privacy.

As you can see, most of my close matches aren’t sharing any kind of public tree. Except, of course, some of them are sharing unlinked trees. Right away, when I’m going through my fourth cousin matches, I will add a note if my third cousin shares that match. For example, if I share a match with my 2nd cousin then I put, Shared match with 2nd cousin. Using their member name in place of the relationship.

Step Two

My DNA Matches – Step Two

My next step is to go through each match and see who we both share a match with. The screenshot above shows that this 3rd cousin match is a match shared with my father and two other 3rd cousins. One of those third cousins is already on my known list. From that match alone, it narrows down where this match comes in significantly. Not only for the match who I am looking at but for the other unknown third cousin match.

For this match in her Note section would read, Shared match with ‘3rd cousin’ and ‘3rd cousin’. I don’t add that my father is a match because I already have a box for that in my excel sheet.

Step Three

My DNA Matches – Step Three

My next step shows how even an unlinked family tree can help determine which section of your family tree a match comes from. This third cousin match has a small family tree that’s not attached to their DNA results. That means I have no idea if the DNA results are for the home person on this family tree. I can’t know without asking. I’m not ready to ask yet because I’m still rebuilding my core family tree. The two surnames that are shown above (Theademan, Moyer) are very familiar to me though. My great-grandma was a Moyer. That means I’m comfortable making another change to my list.

Re-Visiting my List

Making Progress on my DNA Match list

Okay, so now I know where eight out of my ten matches are coming from. I used a different symbol to denote that while I think I know where the match comes from, I’m still not sure. This is still a clue to identifying someone in my 4th cousin match list. If any of these third cousins come up as a shared match, then it goes into my notes section.

The last two matches

My last two matches are the most difficult ones. The first one has a public tree, but nothing that looks familiar. The second match has a tree but it is private. The one thing going for me is that when I look at the shared matches for each one, the other is listed. That means all three of us match. That doesn’t mean we match at the same spot, but that we are all related to people in common somewhere.

Breaking the 4th cousin barrier

When looking at the matches, I realized not only did we have each other all in common. We all had a fourth cousin in common. That fourth cousin also has a public tree up. I recognized the Slusher name from this match. The funny thing about the Slushers is that I usually match with them as double cousins. There were 3 Mays siblings that married 3 Slusher siblings. That means we could all descend from different Mays/Slusher couples or the same one. One of us might not even be connecting through the Mays/Slusher mess but somewhere else. Without knowing those other two people, it’s difficult to say. As if DNA matches weren’t hard enough!

So now if I match with these third cousins and that particular fourth cousin, I add in the fourth cousin to my notes section. This gives me a starting point for my next level of analyzation. I sure am good at analyzing things to the point of exhaustion!

The Final List

My Final List of 2nd and 3rd cousins

Okay, the above screenshot shows my final list of 2nd and 3rd DNA cousin matches. The ‘i’ symbol on those last two matches shows that I just don’t have enough information on them. Now that I have a general idea where a lot of my matches come from, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. That’s not the end though. There is one last thing I have in my Notes section.

What happens when there are no second or third cousin matches?

Yup. I have quite a few of those as well. There are many types of notes that aren’t using a cousin match.

  • Descendant of … : Usually, if they have a public tree that I see familiar names on.
  • Descended through: This one is if they are descended through a known sibling of my ancestors.
  • Only 1 shared match: There are 16 matches that only have one shared match.
  • Possible Surname connection: If I see a pattern or surnames that I’m familiar with.
  • DNA Circle: I only have a few DNA circles and they come and go depending on my cousin matches opening and closing their public trees. Though I feel like a lot of my sorting and organization is leading me to create my own DNA circles.
  • Unknown Connection: 213 of my cousin matches are still a mystery to me. I have 493 charted. That means about 43% of my matches still need more work. In the grand scheme of things, I think that’s a good start. That means I will probably be able to figure out over 50% of my matches without too much hassle.

Sucked into the DNA Trail

Here I am again, after another absence. This one was partially on purpose. Sometimes you just need a mental break from genealogy. It’s not a bad thing. Over the years, I’ve learned it helps me to focus better if I just walk away from it for a week or two. The rest of my break, I have been working on learning about DNA. Oh, man has that been a journey! I’m obviously still learning and probably will never fully understand.

During Amazon Prime Day this year, I purchased three 23andMe DNA tests. I had previously tested myself and my Dad on Ancestry. I thought since I had never used 23andMe before, I might want to go ahead and re-test my Dad to see the differences between the companies. In addition to testing my Dad, I also tested my mother and her brother.

Information Overload

The biggest thing I’ve gotten from DNA test results is information overload! Learning from my fellow genealogists, I know that the cure for information overload is learning and organization. The overload comes from not understanding what you are looking at. That means I have to learn more and I have to find a better way for my brain to process it. Okay, that’s definitely something I can do!

My Dad’s Ancestry DNA matches

The image above is the Excel spreadsheet that I made to wrangle my DNA matches. This is after I watched about 10 DNA webinars, and some of them I watched twice. The main problem I have found from a research standpoint with Ancestry DNA matches is you have to go into each tree and click on multiple things to see all the information. From a research perspective, that’s a lot of wasted clicks and time.

Before carpel tunnel sets in, I wanted to have a way of pinpointing a focus subject without having to click 3,987 times. The following are my headers and the reason.

The Explanations

  • Username: Ancestry uses its own messaging system for DNA matches, so I made sure to put down the username of all my matches. In the case of someone who has a manager of their DNA test, I put Username (managed by Username).
  • Predicted Relationship: This is the relationship that Ancestry thinks I share with the person. I have 473 4th Cousin or closer matches and my Dad has 223. That’s a lot. Not only is that a lot but there are hundreds of pages of more distant matches. I chose to stick to the 4th cousin and closer matches except for the case of Shared Ancestor Hints. If I had a distant cousin match but we also shared an ancestor hint, I added them to my spreadsheet.
  • Shared Hint, Common Ancestor: This is my favorite column. This one shows me who is already showing as having an ancestor match with me. Before I actually started tracking these matches, I didn’t realize I had so many on my Dad’s side. I always assumed most of my matches came from my mother’s well-documented side.
  • Public or Private Tree?: This one speaks for itself. I’m able to tell at a glance if the tree is public and might hold a lot of clues, or if I’m going to need some caffeine and my thinking cap. Probably some patience too.
  • Unlinked Tree: This is one of those hidden, but wonderful clues into those Private trees everyone is so upset about. Sometimes, if you are lucky, someone has an unlinked family tree on their account. In Ancestry, you have to go in and link test results to a tree. People don’t always do that and they certainly aren’t required to. However, sometimes they might have a tree already online and just haven’t linked their results to it. Of course, you can never be sure unless you ask them if those results go with that tree, but it’s better than no information at all.
  • Shared cM: This is the section I know the least about. This number is how Ancestry determines that Predicted Relationship. Mostly what I know is the higher centi-morgans you share, the closer your relationship. There are tons of tools and charts out there that break this down much better than me!
  • Confidence Level: Ancestry gives every match a confidence level. It was pretty interesting to compare my results with my Dad’s. Some of those High results were Extremely High for him or even the other way around.
  • Shared Matches: A simple yes or no. There aren’t many no answers but now I’m able to see them with 1 click of my mouse.
  • Contacted: This column is for if I’ve contacted the person yet or not.
  • Matched with Kathleen or Dad?: The column says something different for each tab. On my test, it’s an easy way for me to see what is most likely a paternal match. On my Dad’s test, it was an easy way for me to filter out the yes answers and delete the no answers after copying the tab. It saved me from re-typing 83 matches.

What about Notes? What about those 23andMe results?

Well, I’d like to tell you all about it but I can’t! The Notes section will take a little bit more space to explain and this entry is already really long. As for 23andMe, GEDMatch and other DNA results, I’m still figuring out how to organize them. This is a work in progress, but you can be sure I’ll keep my family and friends updated!

Genealogy Do-Over: An Update after Traveling

Okay, so lets just get down to it. There were a few things I made sure to do before leaving for Florida in February. I knew I was going to be staying for 2 months and that I wouldn’t have any paper records with me.

The Prep

The first thing I did was scan all the remaining documents in my “Binder Indexes” file. I wanted to make sure that I had a digital copy of everything that was listed on that index. Who knows what could happen while I was gone? I might need them for information. There might be a fire and I lose everything. Someone could breaking into my house and steal all my genealogy documents. You never know!

My Binder Index Excel File

Next was the question of how do I access what I need from 1000 miles from home. One option was to move all my digital files over to my laptop, but I didn’t want to go that route. Another option was to move things onto a flash drive. Those are so vulnerable to damage and loss, especially with traveling, so I nixed that idea. The best option for me ended up being my cloud storage through Microsoft. Our family shares a 365 subscription, this gives me 1 TB of storage included in our subscription. This involved moving my family file to the cloud and then copying all my document files and pictures over.

My Work Flow

You might be wondering how my workflow functioned not only in a travel setting, but in a laptop setting. I can report back to you that it worked WONDERFULLY. I was actually pleasantly surprised at how functional it was. When I had the time to sit down and work on something, I knew exactly where I was, and I had the flexibility that I didn’t have to completely finish working with a record in one sitting. Obviously that would be ideal, but in a household with newborn twins it just wasn’t practical!

If you look at my Binder Index file, the basis of my workflow starts there. My first column is Downloaded/Scanned. When I’m working with digital files, I start by saving a copy of the record or picture to the folder of everyone involved. If it’s a physical record, I scan it first and then save it to the corresponding folder(s).


The second step is really important for me in my Do-Over, that is to enter my information into Evidentia. I am not analyzing data as I go through it, I am just entering it. I only analyze evidence after I have completely entered all documents for a person and their parents. It didn’t make much sense to be constantly going back over things when I’m entering so much information right now. This allows me to see a more complete picture at one time.

Entering Information in Evidentia

It was very common during my Florida trip for me to have to get up either in the middle of entering information or after finishing. It might be hours before I could get back to it. Once I finish entering information into Evidentia then I enter ‘Yes’ in the Excel box under the Evidentia column.

After Evidentia is when I enter the information into my family tree program. There was a time when I had Evidentia later in my workflow. Moving Evidentia up in my workflow allows me to fully look at the record and see all the different claims before I put it in my program. This helps me to make sure I’m attaching the citations to all the things I’m entering into my program.

Entering Information in my Family Tree Program

Once I enter everything into my program, I move onto my Genealogy Log.

Genealogy Research Log
My Resesarch Log

Now all my boxes have been changed to ‘Yes’ in my Binder Index file, but I have more tabs to use in my Research Log. Once I’ve entered the information into my log, the record I just entered is listed on the Records Used tab. This tab isn’t 100% necessary, but it helps me to double check that I’ve entered things into Evidentia, my log, and my program.

Plan Tab

The Plan tab is probably the most changed tab in any of my files. There are conditional formatting rules set up on this tab and it’s basically a To Do List that I use to keep myself straight.

Plan Tab

Before I put the color code in the top row, I was relying on my memory of what each symbol meant. That wasn’t efficient at all, more time was spent messing with those boxes than actual work. When a proof point is entered into my Research Log, I go ahead and put an ‘X’ in the box. If I’m unhappy with the quality of my evidence for that proof point, then I put the ‘?’ which means more search is needed. If a proof point doesn’t currently apply to someone (marriage or death), then I put the not applicable symbol, ‘!’. I do have columns for Ancestry Tree, FamilySearch tree, and Find a Grave. If I’ve synced my information with either of the tree sites, then I put the ‘X’.

For living individuals, I don’t add their information to my online trees. I have been adding a picture and their names, but I mark them as living so only I should see that information. I mark that in the file with the ‘@’ symbol. That shows me I’ve entered them into all my databases but I’m keeping the information private. The last symbol is the ‘E’. This isn’t to mark that it’s entered in Evidentia, but that I’ve analyzed that proof point in Evidentia.

Analyzing in Evidentia

In Conclusion

Having this workflow ensured that when I was traveling my progress wasn’t lost or stalled. I was able to keep moving forward in the same way I was working at home. I might not have made a lot of progress, but the progress I made was quality progress. Who knew I’d be excited to move so slowly through my family tree!

This series of posts are based on the Genealogy Do-Over Workbook by Thomas MacEntee

Previous Posts in this Series

I have a Category Problem

When I sat down to write a blog post for today, I was completely un-inspired. I couldn’t think of anything to write about. The great thing is I have an Excel spreadsheet for that problem. I opened my spreadsheet and was looking around, then I came to my website and decided to look through old posts to find one to update. That’s where I found true inspiration for today’s blog post.

Misadventures of a Genealogist has 81 categories on the blog

I never think about my categories except when I’m scrolling through them. I tell myself that it’s a lot of stuff to scroll through and that I need to remedy that. Then I go about my business and ignore it. The only problem I find myself in now is that 2017 seems to be the year I can no longer just walk away from things.

I want to fix it, and this is the week it’s happening. What I thought was funny when I started blogging in March of 2010 is no longer funny. I want to make things user friendly here on the website.

My inspiration comes from a genea-friend from when I started blogging.

Tonia Kendrick runs her blog Solopreneur Diaries and I’ve been following it since it’s launch. She has some great posts that have made me rethink my blog management. Two posts are of particular interest to me today. Using a Spreadsheet for your Content Ideas and When You Feel That Nagging Feeling. What I got from that page is that she has main categories and sub-categories for each one. It keeps the blog focused and on topic.

One issue can be solved right away. I don’t need “All Posts” or “Misadventures of a Genealogist” categories. This blog is Misadventures of a Genealogist, I don’t need a category to state that. With just a quick thought process, this is what I came up with.

Not every subcategory is shown

With 81 categories, I wasn’t going to add everything to a graphic. I really just wanted to have some basic categories to start with. Between my Index pages and these categories, I think it will really cover things I’ve posted on the blog. Anything that doesn’t fit into the four categories can fall into uncategorized.

Actually now that I’m studying it, I don’t even think Genealogy Do-Over needs its own category since I have an Index page for that. This will allow me to categorize those posts into Research, Identification, and Organization when it applies to those posts.

Do you have any ideas about categories that I am missing? Be sure to let me know!

Does this mean all your links are going to break?

They shouldn’t! My blog structure is set up to use the date in the URL. It’s not great for my SEO score for sure, but it also means changing categories isn’t going to effect my URL links.

I might change that setup one day but thankfully Tonia also has a post showing how to deal with that! You might be worried that this will distract me from my Do-Over. It won’t! I’m going to be doing this on the days that I’m not working on my Do-Over.

Disclaimer: I made no profit for mentioning Tonia’s post. There are no affiliate links on the post. Once you click over to her website, her disclosures about links and profit apply to her website. 

Routines are What I Need

Who are you? Where on earth have you been?

Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve updated. I have no excuse except that I was thrown completely off my axis. The day after I left the hospital I received a jury summons notice for the month of October. Usually I wouldn’t have minded this disruption, but this was my third time being summoned in five years. Instead of acting outraged over that, I went with it and got excited about the process. In all actuality, I really enjoy jury duty. The people, the legal aspect, and taking part in the community. Before I knew it, the month was over and I hadn’t sat down to write anything.

At the beginning of November, I realized how long it had been since I did anything except my basic things. I hadn’t been reading, I hadn’t been writing and I’d been existing on a little sleep and a lot of Netflix. That’s okay for awhile, but eventually I knew I needed to do something that engaged my mind more. It didn’t take me long to realize that what I was missing was structure in my days. One thing out of sync and it was just throwing me all off.

Then just as I was sitting down to plan and write this blog, my neighbor passed away. We’ve lived next door to her and her daughter since I was in Kindergarten, so we’re all close and are friends. I’ve been spending a lot of time with her daughter and still trying to keep up with my own household. As a genealogist, I know that the people in our lives are so important, and I’ve been making sure that the people in mine know that. On a production level, that leaves me here, one month later exactly and still behind! Now I’m just wondering where to pick up the pieces and get things back on track. The great thing for me is that I had already started to get very organized, digitally at least!

Okay, so where do we start?

Finding out where to start is easy. If you’ve been following my Genealogy Do-Over, then you know I was already starting to get pretty organized.

My Research Plan
My Research Plan

That means that my research/Do-Over will be easy to pick back up. That’s for another entry though. This has nothing to do with my research and everything to do with my new way of keeping a plan together for the blog. The last time you saw my excel file, “Blog Tracker” was in June. That file has gotten a little bit of a makeover.

My Blog Tracker
My Blog Tracker

My Blog Tracker is now bigger and better

Before I just had one tab in the file that was a catalog of my previous blog posts. That now lies in the “Blog Archive” tab of the file. The “Regular Topics” section is what I hope will keep me inspired. I’ve added the daily blogging prompts from under each corresponding day and I’ve made a list of my regular blog topic series. Only time will tell if this helps me be more regular in my blog writing.

Blog Tracker - Post Ideas
Blog Tracker – Post Ideas

The Post Ideas section is where I am keeping a log of my post ideas with a target date, suggested category, and a brief description of the idea. The rest of the sections will be me logging what I’ve already posted in the regular categories. This will help me know what I’ve posted before. With a blog a few years old, I’d hate to repeat myself when I can just link to a previous entry and then add to the subject.

You can see from my Post Ideas tab that I’m going to try an alternating post schedule. It might take me a few weeks to get into the groove of it but we’ll see how that goes! I’m already one day “behind” because I meant to write this post and finish it on Monday, but I just didn’t make it in time.

Even the Blog has a few new things

I’m not sure if I’ll be doing another entry for this or not, but I’m also overhauling the organization of my blog. As I work on my blog archive, I’m creating indexes for my posts that turned into “series”.

Blog Screenshot
Blog Screenshot

The links to the indexes can be found by hovering over “Indexes” at the top of the screen or using the links in the sidebar.

In Conclusion

I’m feeling really good and organized about the future. Not just for my genealogy and blog, but overall. I’m hoping that by doing this my stress and anxiety levels will start to decline and my night in the hospital will be the last one I have for quite awhile!

I hope you all are doing well and I thank you for always sticking with me through these absences. I really appreciate it.

Re-Organizing my Old Blog Posts

I’m here to show you how I’ve become a complete organization addict. I’ve been doing really great at setting my organization up for my Genealogy Do-Over. I am still working on that and still working through Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones. It’s going against everything in me not to follow some leads that I see in my head as I look at some of my old blog posts.

Speaking of old blog posts. I am re-organizing them. I never really used a consistent organization method with them and that’s what I’m going back and changing now. I have a lot more time on my hands while I work through my other tasks. The most important reason is I want to be able to find what I’m looking for easier. I use the blog as a way of talking things over with myself or others. I think this will help me to remember what I’ve already said on a subject before and to easily find past entries.

Blog Tracker in Excel

Meet my new Blog Tracker. I am tracking the date I posted, the title, names I mentioned, tags I used, categories I used (some are changing as I go), whether I added SEO data, if I want to re-visit that entry, if I have links to my database website to fix, if I want to go back and add source citations, and if a family member commented.

All that is the data I want to track. Oh boy, it’s a lot. It doesn’t take me more than a couple of minutes to actually log this information. I like that I am using the filters feature, because I can see at a glance all my entries for Lewis Thorward or George Thorward.

Blog Posts

Most of the information I am logging, is actually view-able at a glance on my post listing. There isn’t a really efficient way for me to view 62 pages (!!!) of information and cut through it. Unless there are some great search tips that I don’t know about.

There isn’t anything changing in the old posts. I am just adding Tags for the family names discussed and making a shorter category list for now. Later I will go back and fix links, once I am into my research again and know what numbers to use. I will also make links between entries that ended up being a part of a series.

Hopefully, this won’t take me 8 years to do, but I have a feeling it will go quicker than I think. Are you going through an organization overhaul? Is it kicking your butt too?