Life is busy. No one is exempt. Daily we are faced with the juggling of life’s many responsibilities all while trying to find a little time for our passion, genealogy. Researching your family history online can be time consuming. However, there continues to grow a list of new timesaving tools available to the family historian that can not only free up your time but also search for your family while you sleep.
Gone are the days of bookmarking your favourite websites and remembering to check back to see if there is anything new. There are plenty of options available to the family historian in bringing updates, news and information right to your desktop on a daily basis.
RSS Feeds, email subscriptions, newsletters are all great ways to keep on top of the latest information from your favourite websites.
RSS Feeds (Really Simple Syndication) is tops on my list. Find a website that you like and subscribe to an RSS Feed. You can have that websites latest information delivered to your inbox or Google Reader. RSS Feeds are great for websites that offer blogs.
Personally, I keep an igoogle page. Igoogle is great concept from Google that allows you to create your own home page. When you sign in, your home page loads with your favourite website links, gadgets, to do lists all customized with your personal choices. On it I keep feeds of my favourite websites and blogs that I read daily, I also keep my google reader on my igoogle page. All my RSS feeds go to this Google Reader. They are all together on my home page where I can quickly and easily access them on a daily basis. As I find time to do some reading, they are conveniently available.
Other websites that offer less frequent updates in the form of monthly newsletters I have delivered to my inbox. Often I found in bookmarking a site, I would go months without checking on them. Out of sight, out of mind. A newsletter in my inbox makes me visit them on regular basis. Great for sites like Ancestry or Irish History Foundation, any of your favourite databases, online cemeteries etc. where information doesn’t necessarily change daily.
Another way I keep my most essentials sites top of mind is with the favourite’s toolbar. If you don’t have Explorer 8, I suggest you get the free download online. This download will give you a handy toolbar where you can keep a dozen or more links of your top sites readily available at the top of your screen. This is a great place to keep sites that you may visit daily or several times a week. You can arrive to your favourite site in one click, check for news and move on before you’ve had your first sip of morning coffee.
Alerts are fundamental in saving yourself surfing time. In Google Alerts, you can enter some of your most frequent research queries and ask Google to send you an alert when anything new is posted to the internet pertaining to your query. You can have queries sent to your inbox as it happens, daily or weekly basis. You customize alerts to your own particular needs. In terms of your genealogy research, you can use alerts to monitor information posted on a particular relative or surname you are following. As well , if you interested in Irish history or German history and want to know about new websites or articles or information just save a search query in Google Alerts. You make your alert as specific or general as you like. It is all in your control.
Don’t forget alerts to forums. Many sites offer forums where you can follow a thread of a particular surname or geographical area of your ancestors. Ancestry for example has many family forums where you can follow a family surname. I have alerts set up for not only my family surnames but also the specific areas they lived. When someone posts an inquiry to the forums I am quickly alerted, I can scan to see if it pertains to my particular family and decide whether it is worth further investigation.
By combining all of these timesaving techniques, you can easily reduce your searching time and bring the internet and information to you. I look forward to getting up in the morning signing on to my email and igoogle page and finding what the internet has delivered to my desktop with my morning coffee. I can then go on with my day knowing I’m on top of my research and I’m not missing a thing.