Genealogy Do-Over, Organisation

Genealogy Do-Over: An Update

The Study
The Study – AKA the “I’ll deal with it when I get back from the UK” room

At the end of July I wrote a post about Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over and that I was going to start the process.  I have started but it is not going as fast as I would like.  Prior to going to the UK in early September I started putting boxes of stuff into the study which quickly became the “I will deal with that when I get back from the UK room”.  I opened the door a few days after returning home in early October and quickly shut it again.  I just could not face it.


However, the other day I decided if I don’t get started, I will never get it sorted so I took a photo of “before” and started moving stuff out.  As you can see this is NOT going to be a quick process!  Now half the contents are spread around my hallway and a collapsible table has been set up to begin the sort process!


Thomas MacEntee has outlined the steps to take when undertaking the Genealogy Do-Over and the first month is to set previous research aside and prepare to research.  I know this is going to take me quite some time to sort but I am determined to make it much easier to find the documents and photos I have in my home.  I want the documents I have to be easy to find when I require them as part of the Genealogy Do-Over.  I don’t want to have to be hunting for the birth certificate I know I ordered but it is in the study “somewhere”.  I feel that part of setting aside my previous research is to have it in an organised condition so I can lay my hands on it quickly when the need arises.


I have also started the process of sorting my digital files, although I am still trying to decide what digital folders I will create.  I am tossing up with a couple of different ideas:

  • Create folders for each of my grandparents using the Mary Hill’s FamilyRoots Organizer Color-Coding System.  In this system you colour-code each of your grandparents and anyone contained within that line in the colour allocated.  I would then create surname folders within these overall folders and then individual folders within each of the surname folders.
    • Colour-Coded Genealogy

      Advantages of this system:

      • I can quickly see which line a person belongs based solely on the colour of the folder
      • I can have folders or boxes of physical documents colour-coded the same way
      • Family Tree Maker 2017 allows me to colour-code people the same way
    • Disadvantages of this system:
      • Initial outlay of purchasing physical boxes or folders of the correct colour – although I could possibly just place a coloured piece of paper on them to easily demarcate them at this point.
      • Linking to Family Tree Maker 2017 from different folders means I have to be careful never to move a document as the link will be broken with the software program.  Also will this make Family Tree Maker work slower as it is not doing its native link from its own folder.


  • Use the default Family Tree Maker 2017 system of putting all documents into one folder
    • Advantages of this system:
      • All documents relating to my tree that are attached to my file are in one location.
      • It is the intuitive system for Family Tree Maker.
      • I don’t need to change the path to the folder every time I upload a document which I would need to do with my individual folders.
    • Disadvantages of this system:
      • Have to ensure that every document is named or tagged really well in order to find the file as required.

Messy paperwork, genealogy do-over

  • Do a combination of the above – any documents that are uploaded to Family Tree Maker are copied to the Family Tree Maker folder and the original stays in the colour-coded folder.
    • Advantages of this system:
      • It is the intuitive system for Family Tree Maker and the folder to save them to remains static.
      • Can still find what documents I hold for an individual by just going to their folder.
    • Disadvantages of this system:
      • It would require duplicates of documents that could cause confusion and takes up more space on my hard drive.

Depending on the day of the week I change my mind as to which way to go and thus am not really achieving much in organising my system.  I am starting to lean towards doing a combination of the two even though it will take up valuable hard drive space, however, I like being able to see at a glance the documents I have for a person.  Also, I don’t upload everything onto Family Tree Maker and so it would mean some things were in the individual’s folder and the rest in the Family Tree Maker folder.  I’ll let you know what I decide!  I would love to hear your thoughts on the above ideas too so leave a comment below.


Join me on my Genealogy Do-Over.  Click the image below to get your copy of The Genealogy D0-Over Workbook!


10 thoughts on “Genealogy Do-Over: An Update

  1. Congratulations on starting the Do-Over! I’ve been doing a “Go-Over” meaning I check everything, do new research, and confirm my tree, rather than setting all aside and beginning from zero.

  2. Good for you Megan! I had thought about doing this, but it seemed to daunting a task. Even how to start seems to be a big decision! I look forward to seeing how you do.

    1. Hello Dianne

      It is a daunting task, hence, the reason it’s taken me most of the year to really start. I figure if I don’t start I’ll never finish!


    1. Hi Liz

      I am fortunate that I only work part-time rotating roster, 4 days per fortnight, giving me 10 days off per fortnight. My son is doing distance education so I’m pretty much housebound on the weekdays when I’m not working to ensure he is doing his schoolwork. I am trying to do an hour per day on both physical and digital files so I don’t feel quite so overwhelmed although my hallway sorting station looks like a bomb went off! Definitely come back for future updates!


  3. I know what a huge task this is Megan. I’ve been working on my Do-Over for a few months now, making very slow process as I give much thought to each instruction. I have asked myself many of the same questions that your are mulling over now. I went with colour coded physical folders. Working on digital files and photos now.

    1. Hi Jennifer

      Thank you for your comment. I really think colour-coding is the way to go. I am doing mine a bit at the time. I am spending an hour per day each on digital and physical documents. It’s going to be slow but at least I don’t feel overwhelmed trying to do it all at once. My hallway looks like a bomb went off as it is my sorting station and only sorted documents are going back into the study!


  4. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part! Good luck with the organization! I feel your pain. I need to do this for many of my physical documents. The vast majority of my hard copies and photos are at my parents’ house on or near a large bookcase. We really need to go through all of those documents and sort, scan, and organize them. It’s a daunting task!

    1. Hello EvaAnne

      It is a daunting task and I’m tackling it slowly. I’ve pulled everything out of my study and moved furniture around to sort it into a more usable space. I have put a sorting table in my hall and there are boxes EVERYWHERE! I am trying to do an hour of sorting a day but at the moment it feels like it will NEVER end!

      Good luck with yours!


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