Friday, October 7, 2011

The Impetus

I announced my new goal of a paperless office, and more generally, a paperless genealogist to some friends yesterday afternoon and one of them, asked the question, "What's the impetus for THAT decision?"

It's a good question to be sure. I mean I've been doing genealogy research in various forms for the better part of the last 15 years, and the system I have has been working so far, right?  So once I looked up the definition to be sure I understood the question, I came up with what is actually a pretty basic answer, but I think sums it up well.

I am what some would call "slightly unorganized."  You might say my organization system is messy, untidy, severely cluttered or disheveled.  Those who know me might say "What organization system?"  The truth is these are all valid ways to describe what my office and my genealogy records have become.

As the president of our local genealogical society I have explained to people the need to be organized. I have attended many presentations on organizational strategies... both for genealogists and for work.  It's just never seemed to click. Everything is based on filing things in a way that makes sense for you. The problem is an organizational structure that makes sense to me today may not make sense to me tomorrow, so I need something a little more fluid.  Having things electronically at least gives me, I hope, better access to search for the things I need but can't find because of ADD when it comes to how things should be organized.

Also, I have to point out, I've been doing this for 15 years. Well, to be fair, that was pointed out to me first, so it wasn't much of a revelation, but here's why that's important.  If you have a bad habit, ANY bad habit, for any given length of time, you will eventually realize its a problem and recognize you need to take steps to fix it.  If, for example, I were a smoker, and I had been smoking for 15 years and I announce to the world that I decided I needed to quit smoking would anyone say to me, "Why?  You've been smoking for 15 years. What's the impetus for THAT decision?"  I would like to think the first reaction would be more like "Awesome! Way to go man!" But can I really compare a life threatening addiction with being a clutter bug?  As I think about my wife's reaction if I keep letting my office's organized chaos slip into the bedroom, I think there is a fair comparison to be made. :)


  1. Good post Brian. I can totally relate to your comment that what makes sense to you one day (re filing/organization) may not make sense another day!

    That is so me. :-) I set up filing systems, they seem very logical and sensible. I walk away feeling so proud of myself. Then I try to find something and cannot. When/if I eventually do find it I often think "What on earth possessed me to file this under blah blah!"

    Good luck with your journey, I'll be following with interest

  2. Thanks Lorine!

    Sounds like you're at least one step ahead of where I've been, but I'm really excited to get started down this road. I've heard a lot of discussion about the technologies to make this all happen, but I haven't heard a lot of success stories yet. I'm hoping this blog will be the beginning of one.