Keeping Your Genealogy Focus

As researchers, it is easy for us to get distracted.  We have so many interesting ancestors to research, databases to check, books/articles to read, and cousins to email.  It isn’t uncommon for us to sit down with one genealogy task in mind only to find ourselves a few hours later doing something completely different.

So how do we prevent our loss of focus?


A clearly defined research goal will help us focus on tasks that will help us carry out the goal.   The best goals are goals with S.M.A.R.T qualities:






Goals with the above qualities are more likely to be reached.

Stay Organized

In order to stay focused on the task at hand and not spend 20 minutes searching for a piece of paper, it is vital to be organized.  If you need help getting organized, I highly suggest my e-book, Conquering The Paper Monster Once and For All.

Minimize Distractions

Determine what your most common distractions are and then eliminate them.  Step away from Facebook and Twitter.  Stop checking your email.  Turn off the television.

Practice Practice Practice

Having and keeping your focus takes practice.  The more you practice the longer you will be able to keep your focus.

Recommended Form

I am a big believer in writing down your goals and keeping track of your genealogy searches.  Over at Shoe String Genealogy there is a fantastic form that is made just for goal-oriented searches.  The form is free, printable, and can be accessed here.

Your suggestions? What are your best tips and suggestions to staying focused when doing genealogy research?

Further Review:

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3 responses to “Keeping Your Genealogy Focus

  1. Pretty good thoughts for life goals, as well!

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Bill 😉
    Author of “Back to the Homeplace”
    and “13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories”
    Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith´s last blog post ..52 Weeks to Better Genealogy – Challenge #23

  2. Turn off the TV – but if you want ‘back ground noise’, try the radio.

    If you MUST have the tv on, try having a historical/themed show on, like who do you think you are? as inspiration.

    Ensure you have all the paper work you need within easy reach. Unlike me, who does most of my research in our attic room – where all my paper work is. But if i decide to work downstairs at the dining room table where there is more room. I have to take my netbook (which has TMG installed on it) AND all the appropiate paper work i need for the branch i am researching. That way i’m not up and down stairs all day.


    • You just have to be careful about watching historically themed shows because sometimes those can take your attention away from your research (or at least it does that for me).

      I love the radio idea! That is something I tend to do a lot.

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