Tuesday, February 25, 2014


If you do have one of “those” spaces, then you are not alone and there is hope.

Recognize any of these items?
Closet - floppy disks etc
  • What are those things still doing in my house? 
  • Why do I need them? 
  • Why do I keep them?
We all love to chase those ancestors.  We can sit for hours at the computer and search, save, record and search some more.

BUT, how do you keep your area, your computer files, your folders, your desk….everything, organized and neat?

Isn’t that the big question?

It is for most of the genealogists I know.  

What I am doing right now is reorganizing my office.  I am fortunate to be able to have a room in our home that is my own little genealogy haven.  However, it doesn’t matter the size of your area, it still must be organized.  How else are you going to be able to find anything?

I was doing pretty well in my office area, but there is a closet in this room too.  And I will confess right now…..IT WAS A HUGE MESS!!  Nearly 20 years of living in this house and using that closet as the catch all for everything.  It took it’s toll  But, hey, if I didn’t open the door then I didn’t have to think about it, right?  WRONG!

I decided this was the year.  That closet was getting cleaned out no matter what.

It began with the emptying of everything from that horrible space.  So much stuff.  Seriously?  Tax records in boxes, going back to 1984.  Old computer books, floppy disks, modems, hard drives, dresses that I didn’t have a space for, old uniforms, you name it, we had it in that closet.  The rest of our home doesn’t look like this, I swear.

Here is a picture of what I’m talking about.  

closet before cleaning

That space is completely empty now.  Of course, much of it is out in the office area.  But, I have thrown away countless numbers of things that I definitely DO NOT NEED.

Here is the second big bin of trash I have gotten rid of.  The first one was over flowing and this one will be too.

Closet trash bin

1.  You WILL locate items, documents, photos that you have forgotten about.
2.  You WILL be able to locate everything without hunting.
3.  You WILL actually be able to research without the guilt of thinking “gosh, I should be scanning, sorting, cleaning, filing or whatever.”
4.  You will just feel better, more calm and happier.  Unless disorganization is what you like and there are those folks who do.  Nothing wrong with that, it’s how they are comfortable.

Here is what that closet looks like now.

Closet painted & shelves up

Can I get a big YIPPEEE!!!!

Can you believe the difference?  I painted it a tan color to contrast with the shelves.  We (my helpful husband) still has to install the baseboard and a new light fixture. The shelves were purchased at the Container Store during their yearly Elfa Shelf sale.  I have used that system in our master closet and have been very happy with it now for about 15 years.
It’s really coming along and it’s only been 2 weeks since the project began.  

Here are some of the treasures I have located so far:
  • Negatives of photos of my Dad’s first marriage from 1934.
  • Pictures of my brother and me when we were kids in Florida.
  • Documents that were somehow never filed in their proper place.
  • Pictures of me and my Dad from back in the 1970’s.
  • An album of photos that belonged to my husband’s grandmother.  We had obtained that album when his Mom died 20 years ago and not seen it since then.
  • Lots of other miscellaneous items that I won’t bore you with.

JOIN A GROUP - Whether it’s a small area or a big area. It really helps to have the support and encouragement of other genealogists who have similar issues. 
There is a FACEBOOK group called THE ORGANIZED GENEALOGIST that is absolutely wonderful.  This group was started just last year and has grown by hundreds of people.  We all support, share, confess and help one another.  I highly recommend it.

START SOMEWHERE  - Pick up any pile of papers you have sitting out and begin.  Tell yourself you will spend 10 minutes or 15 or whatever works for you, and do just the tasks that involve organizing.  It might be filing.  It might be scanning.  It might be throwing things away.  Taking small steps helps you to not become overwhelmed.  And, think how good you’ll feel at the end of that time.

REMEMBER THE RULE – Only touch each piece of paper ONCE.  Don’t pick it up and move it to another space or pile.  There are THREE things you can do with a piece of paper or document.


That’s it.  It seems simple, but we all know how hard it is sometimes.

I encourage you to start your own organizing project.  Please don’t forget to tell me about your progress and successes.  

I will post a picture of that closet once it’s all organized.  I’m hoping that will be by the end of this week.  Wish me luck.

Digital Folder Organizing & Naming Made Easy
Easy Document Editing

Happy organizing and happy hunting,

Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2014   Diane Gould Hall


  1. Your "before" closet picture is a lot neater than my "now" office closet picture. Seeing this post is encouraging me to do something about my mess.

    1. Good for you Terry. Just start somewhere. It's very difficult to go through all the various stacks of paper & not get sidetracked and go down the proverbial rabbit hole. But, I just take a determined stance and don't allow myself to do that. It sure feels good when things are where they are supposed to be. It will never be completely done I don't think.


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.