Now that you’ve developed your plan in Plan Your Genealogy Goals, it’s time to have fun implementing your plan. You may find you speed through some actions and lag in others. Likewise, you should be ready to embrace a new opportunity or manage an unexpected situation. The following tips will help you see forward progress on your action plan.
1. Schedule Your Time
Creating your plan is only the beginning. As you review your roadmap you may wonder how you’re going to juggle the tasks you want to complete. The magic is in scheduling genealogy work on your calendar in sufficient chunks that allow you to get into a flow.
I plan my week every Sunday by assigning roadmap tasks as appointments on my digital calendar. I color code each block of time for the goal on which I’m working. At a glance, I can see the balance of work across the week, month or year. The typical week planned below shows that I’ve allocated roadmap work in the blue, yellow, and green appointments, each color representing a SMART goal. I title each appointment with the task I need to address in that session and include links to notes of where I left off and resources that will help me complete the work. My environment is set up specifically for the task at hand. For example, I have my second monitor handy for researching, or I clear my desk if I’m filing documents into binders.
2. Monitor Your Progress
Take a monthly pause to evaluate your progress. Check off those tasks you’ve completed. Reflect on the behaviors and conditions that serve you well, and eliminate those that don’t.
I book formal review time as a recurring meeting (with myself) on my calendar for the first of each month. Then I share my plan with an “accountability partner” over happy hour to review my progress. She provides encouragement, creative problem-solving, and a sharp nudge when I’m just being lazy. I find this extra step inspires me to engage my goals simply because I care what my friend thinks of me – and my ability to do what I say I’m going to do.
3. Adjust and Course Correct
Your plan may not go as you expected so your implementation approach must be flexible enough to change goals or roadmap midstream. Be ready to embrace a new opportunity or face an unexpected input. Consider how the change supports your genealogy vision and impacts your goals. Then rework and reset your plan if necessary.
For example, I unexpectedly broke through a brick wall identifying my second great-grandmother’s originating county in Ireland. My plan told me it was time to move on to the next ancestor, but I couldn’t resist the temptation of digging into Irish records. As the result of my persistence, I finally found her parents, opening up a new branch of investigation that I hadn’t considered when I first created my roadmap.
I use the results from my monthly progress reviews to guide plan modifications. I may find that I have to hone a process, get help, or break my roadmap down into smaller tasks. For instance, the COVID pandemic essentially obliterated my 2020 genealogy goals as I had planned several conferences and research trips. I adjusted my plan to concentrate on virtual education and writing which continued to support my progress towards my vision.
4. Keep a Journal
Genealogy isn’t solely about the destination. The journey counts just as much. Reap the rewards that simply come with the process. Bask in the excitement of discovering that elusive ancestor or visiting the grave of your great-great-great-grandparents or learning how to conduct research for a new country. Above all, continue to connect with and refine your vision.
I’ve learned that jotting notes or writing about a genealogy experience brings the value of my implementation process to the forefront. I grab a paper and pen, set a timer for ten minutes, and journal about the benefits I’ve gained through the journey. Some of my musings make their way to published blogs intended to share my story and perhaps inspire others to do the same. The act of journaling also builds in a break – mental and physical – without making me feel like I’m losing momentum.
5. Celebrate Your Achievements
As you take stock of your efforts – and results – during regular progress reviews, don’t forget to give yourself some love! Pat yourself on the back for completing tasks on your roadmap. Set up a personal reward with the achievement of your annual goals or major work increments.
I tie my personal rewards back to genealogy so that I have a perpetual feed into my family research. I’m apt to schedule that long-awaited conference, buy a much-needed reference text, or even book heritage travel to my homeland.
Are you ready to journal? Download our free Genealogy Journaling Prompts.
If you want additional help, schedule us for a free 30-minute consultation. We can review or adjust your plan together so you can finish your year in style!
Author Melanie Nelson founded MelNel Genealogy to help others uncover their past and create memorable family experiences. Melanie is a frequent contributor to Florida Genealogical Society - Tampa and Kerry Experience Tours blogs. For assistance researching your own family’s genealogy or planning the ultimate heritage travel adventure, contact us. We are happy to help!