As genealogists, we collect a lot of data and with all of that data comes lots of paper. At first the paper flow is manageable, but the paper monster quickly takes control. So how do you tame the paper monster and get back in control?
Over the next week or so, I will be doing a series of posts that will help you gain control of the paper. If you follow my advice then at the end of this series, you will have gained control of the paper monster. Each post will have an easy to follow step-by-step approach to solving the paper chaos.
The first step to solving any problem is to admit that you have a problem. The excuse that you have “organized chaos” is not going to work here. Don’t feel bad either – this is an incredibly common problem that every genealogist eventually faces.
Before you can begin the process of organization, you have to establish a plan. So to help you define what your plan is, here are some questions to consider:
- How do you think of your ancestors? Do you think about them in terms of surname, couples, or record types? Your answer to this question will determine how you will divide your paperwork.
- Do you like file folders and a filing cabinet or do you prefer binders and dividers? Each method has benefits and disadvantages, so it is really a matter of preference.
With your plan now in place, it is time to start separating all of your papers into piles. This will probably take some time and lots of space – so get comfy on the floor or at the kitchen table and get busy. The way the piles are organized is based upon how you think about your ancestors. So organize your papers by surname, record type, or couple.
Today you’re closer to your goal of conquering the paper beast. In the next post, I will discuss buying your organizational supplies and go into more detail about the various options in organizing the paper work.
If you have any specific questions, thoughts, or comments then please leave me a comment or send me an email. I am always open to any suggestions, comments, or questions.
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