1. Set Goals and Deadlines: Make a list of the things you would like to accomplish this year and set a date for when each item should be completed.
2. Get Organized: Nothing slows down progress more than an unorganized mess. Sometimes I spend more time looking for something in a pile of papers than it would have taken to sort out the pile. Sorting out printed material in binders, duo-tangs or folders will help you put your fingers on that piece of information when you need it. Don’t forget about the computer. If you haven’t organized your information in proper computer files and folders, you many never find it. Once you have everything sorted, promise yourself you’ll keep it that way.
3. Document Sources: If you aren’t already in the habit of recording where you found the information, make a resolution that you will start. Knowing where information was found will help verify it again if needed. It will also save time because you’ll know you already searched a particular set of records, visited that cemetery or viewed that microfilm.
4. Connect with Family: If you’ve been putting off that visit with a relative to discuss the family tree, make an appointment. We never know what the year will deliver and this time next year, that one person you wished to speak with may no longer be with us.
5. Visit the Archives: I know it can be intimidating, but the benefits of visiting your local archives will far outweigh any reservations you might harbour.
6. Request Records: You know the records exist and you know where to find them, so what has kept you from requesting them? Take a few minutes and write the letter to the institution to request the records that may hold valuable information to knock down brick walls and extend your research.
7. Re-evaluate the Brick Wall: If you have given up on solving that brick wall that has been dogging you for six years, take another look at it from a different angle. This is particularly important if it has been filed away in the ‘never going to crack’ file. Research completed in the last six months might help solve it.
8. Back-up Your Data: If you haven’t backed-up your computer files on CD, now is a great time to do so. No one can predict computer glitches and crashes, so if you are actively working on your family tree, a CD back-up should be done every three to four months. Losing all the year’s work in one system failure is enough to make any grown genealogist cry. Remember to deposit an updated CD in another location just in case disaster strikes home.
9. Get it in Print: Although you may not have completed your research, make a print copy. Not only is it suitable for travel, the paper copy has a higher chance of outliving any electronic version.