ProGen Study Group #6

Wednesday, 8 Oct 2008 | by Mark Tucker

This month the ProGen study groups studied a single topic: Time Management

You can find this in Professional Genealogy in:

  • Chapter 13 – Time Management by Patricia Law Hatcher, CG, FASG

A key paragraph at the beginning of the chapter states:

“Dozens of times each day we make decisions – consciously or unconsciously – to begin, continue, or terminate various activities. Many of the time management problems genealogists face do not have solutions, but if we recognize the problems, we can make more informed decisions.”

The rest of the chapter identifies and discusses 10 problems that genealogists face:

  1. Creating boundaries
  2. Identifying clients
  3. Organizing time
  4. Planning for unbillable time
  5. Cutting time waste
  6. Identifying procrastination
  7. Making time for growth
  8. Saying “no”
  9. Giving away time
  10. Controlling the inquiring mind

As an additional resource, we were encouraged to watch a time management lecture given by Professor Randy Pausch and review the accompanying PowerPoint slides (11 MB).  This lecture was given in 2007 after Randy knew he was dying of cancer. 

Also provided was a link to an article titled, “The Pickle Jar Theory.”   This reminded me a lot of the “big rocks” story from Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Practical Assignment

Our assignment this month was pretty straight forward 1) keep a time journal for a week, 2) identify time “thieves”, and 3) begin eliminating wasted time.

Thanks to a dedicated group member, I quickly received a time journal Word template via e-mail and started tracking my time.  Each weekday is pretty much the same:

  • Wake up/get ready/breakfast
  • Help get our children off to school
  • Work
  • Dinner/family time
  • Personal time
  • Bed time


Throw into that some early morning work meetings, Family Home Evening, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Date night and that is pretty much it.  But by tracking the time, I was able to identify and put a number to some of my major time bandits.

So here are my top 3 time bandits:

Time Bandit

Reduction Strategy

TV Watching
  • keep log of just number of hours watching TV
  • set weekly limits
E-mails, blogs, and Facebook
  • try to touch e-mails only once
  • immediately delete unnecessary e-mails
  • unsubscribe to less-read mailing lists
  • set a time limit for time on Facebook
  • question use of some Facebook applications like “Send Karma”


Staying Up Late – At first this might seem like a consequence of wasting time instead of a time bandit.  If I get to bed too late (after 11pm) then I am more tired the next day and my ability to perform tasks is lessened.  So it takes more time to do things than if I were rested.
  • Set and keep bed time
  • Don’t start a new task after 10:00pm
  • Try getting up earlier
  • Exercise probably plays into this as well


 A member of my group, Randy Seaver, kept a time log for two weeks and blogged about it on Genea-Musings.

Discussion Group

It was interesting to talk about the time thieves of others. Many from our group included e-mails, Facebook, blogs, and other internet trappings.

For the past few months at work, I have helped facilitate teaching the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People one-day course.  Habit 3 is “Put First Things First” which talks about the Time Management Matrix.  This how I summarized this concept during our chat:

Has anyone read “7 Habits” where Covey talks about the four quadrants of activities?

imagine a square subdivided into 4 squares

across the top is Urgent, Not Urgent

down the left is Important, Not Important

Q1 – urgent, important

this is crises, pressing problems, deadlines

A lot of us work in Q1, sometimes because of procrastination

Q3 – urgent, not important

just let those things go: interruptions, some e-mails, other people’s tasks put on you

Q4 – not important, not urgent

time wasters, too much tv, internet , etc

Q2 – important, not urgent

this is often neglected due to Q3, Q4

to get more time above the line (Q1, Q2) we eliminate Q3,Q4 activities

Q2 is also the area for recharging: physical, mental, social, spiritual


Overall it was another great discussion and I feel that the members of our group are wonderful.

For October we will be beginning the section on professional research skills.  I am really looking forward to learning more.

If you want to follow my experience in reverse order, follow the link to ProGen Study Group #5.


  1. Hi Mark,

    I’ve enjoyed your blog…this is to let you know that you have been “Tagged” at Donna’s Genealogy Blog

    Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings started a game of tag so people would get to know each other better. I was tagged by Kathy Brady-Blake

    Comment by Donna Moughty — 16 Oct 2008 @ 2:11 pm

  2. Hi Mark.
    I discovered your blog through the blog tag game. Thanks for blogging about your study group. The time management topic is a good one for me to work on right now.

    Comment by Kathy Brady-Blake — 16 Oct 2008 @ 7:37 pm

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