Saturday, August 15, 2009

Free time!

Like a lot of other genealogy hounds out there I often find myself struggling for time to allocate to my favourite hobby. It's very easy to want to spend a large number of hours in succession, focusing solely on knocking down the next brick wall, or rooting around in parish records for the slender hope of making another connection, but more often than not life asks that such interests be set aside for what are really far more important matters - raising children, going to work, spending time with friends and family, eating, breathing etc. So it helps when we can sometimes cut corners, and that's best achieved by utilising the dead time that we so often fail to use to our advantage.

Five days a week I'm given three hours of dead time. Commuting to my job takes 1.5 hours each way, and that is time that I could easily find wasted, if not for the convenience that mobile devices can now bring the genealogist on the go. Ipod, iphone, android, netbooks and laptops - each and every one of them are brilliant tools with which to not only fill your dead time with, but are a means to push your genealogical productivity through the roof.

For example, let's say you've got 30 minutes to kill, waiting for an appointment, or like me you spend a lot of time on public transport. Firstly, the night before, you hook your ipod or other digital music player into itunes on your computer, and you download and perhaps subscribe to one of the many podcasts that are dedicated to genealogy. My primary interest is in Australian genealogy and history, but as a starter I'd definitely recommend "The Genealogy Guys" or "Genealogy Gems." Neither of these podcasts is focused on Australian records, but as a introduction to research methodology, the community, news, North American and occasional global sources both are great places in which to start (more on these in another post).

So, morning comes, and you disconnect your ipod one it is fully charged, and you find yourself at some point in the day with some time to kill. I do suggest that you listen to such podcasts when you really do have no distractions, or you're likely to miss something interesting simply by being distracted.

In addition to your favourite podcasts, I also recommend that you consider taking with you a mobile version of your family tree. Because when you're at a library, family history centre or anywhere else for that matter, if you need quick access to your database, accessing it via a small device that resides inside your pocket, is going to a be a lot better than having to haul around a large notebook, or page after page of family group sheets. Besides, if you're using a device that allows you the freedom of reading your entire family tree database, you're also more than likely able to access free wireless internet hotspots at academic institutions and greasy fast food chains and be able to search the web and access your email without waiting for a library computer to be free.

Notebooks are helpful - but the alternatives are going to save you both time and money in the long run, despite any initial outlay.

1 comment:

Lisa Louise Cooke said...

Greetings from California...Thanks John for recommending The Genealogy Gems Podcast to your readers. I've heard from several of my Australian listeners and welcome more! I'd also like to invite your readers to listen to my other podcast Family History: Genealogy Made Easy which is really like a genealogy research course and should be applicable to folks around the world. All the best, Lisa Louise Cooke