Wednesday, September 11, 2013

MUST SAVE ALL THE THINGS....Thoughts on managing information & stuff


I have been in a destash mode lately. I've been realizing that part of my issue with life right now is I am too beholden to too many things, activities, emails, etc. So I've been thinking carefully about responsibility, and whether it needs to be my responsibility OR if it could be someone else's. My boss is wonderful about reminding me what is my responsibility at work and when its best to let go of the other stuff. Too bad I don't have someone in life like that LOL.

As a part of this, I've been studying different tools to manage the information that I have and find better ways of doing things. I am currently listening to a Legacy Family Tree Webinar (seriously, if you haven't found these and you're into genealogy or family history, run, don't walk to this link. Each month, one is free to view or you can watch hundreds for a small fee per month) and one of the tools that Thomas MacEntee is presenting is Evernote.

I've had Evernote on my computer/phone for awhile but haven't used it, because most people present it as a way to categorize and save everything that you find. At this point, I don't want to hoarde any more information unless its directly of value to my family tree or for something that I am planning to use in knitting or crocheting. Every time I see someone present about Evernote, its about hoarding more information. And yet - Thomas presented something different, a way to organize your thoughts, your photos, and your documents associated with your tree. Mind semi-blown - a better way to use Evernote that I hadn't thought of, and that might prove more useful.

As he presented on, it made my ponder the nature of the hobby - we are researchers, detectives, and path blazers, solving logic problems and finding new ways to figure out how to find and remember people who may have died 300+ years ago. When I thought about it, it is not all that different from the way people knit, crochet, and spin now - we research (via pattern), we act as detectives (finding the right yarn, needles, hooks, accessories), and path blazers (tweaking or fixing patterns as needed), solving logic problems (gosh dang stitch count errors, typos, etc.), and find new ways to do heels and fingers and things that our ancestors hadn't thought of (can you imagine a sock that had to be sewn together because it was knit flat?).

When it comes down to it, genealogists and family historians save tools, software, information, documents, photos, and mementos. Knitters and crocheters save tools, software, information, documents, photos, yarn, and mementos/finished objects. We're not that different really - its no wonder why there are so many folks who do both.

The problem with the saving of all these things is that especially in today's day and age, information, software, documents, and photos, change super rapidly. It quickly becomes a problem that we need to convert over to the next generation of tools and software to keep that information alive. And sometimes its kept on the Internet, and sometimes it doesn't (and sometimes I wish it went away!). So we end up with a scattershot approach, because we don't want to use yet another tool to manage what's become quickly a monster - Evernote for genealogy, Ravelry for stash/queue/pattern library.

What I've come to realize as a part of listening to this is, it's okay to not have everything. It's okay to let that stash go, to not save every piece of genealogy data because it might be important, because I've realized that in my lifetime, the amount of information, stash, and knitting/crocheting I will be able to do is far exceeded by how much I have. What I can do is focus. Hone in on what I enjoy and whom I want to work on at any given time. Remove the extras so that focus can come naturally. I want to be the expert on certain people, and certain topics, and the only way I can do that to focus.  Yes, I hacked limbs off the family tree - but that's because quite frankly, other trees had them well covered and I don't need to intertwine my branches with theirs. Other folks have very skinny limbs with little trees in the forest, so I've kept them along. It's the same with my knitting/crocheting - I've pruned my queue and have been trying to slow down on starting new projects without finishing others, stopping my pattern testing, etc. so that I can finish my own designs, finish projects, and use my yarn. But it takes SO much discipline! Sometimes I fail, and I have to pick myself up and start again. It's okay!

The process I went through is hardly unique, and they are not alone in coming to this same realization. We're all struggling with this same issue of saving overload no matter what the area, and we ought to work together more often in order to help each other figure this out.
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