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Post A Day Update – January 2011

February 2, 2011

It was a busy, busy January.

I started my blog in November and the first few posts were a bit ad hoc.  So I signed up for the postaday2011 challenge – to give myself a challenge and motivate me to post regularly – if not daily.

As January has come to an end, it’s time for some reflection on my progress.

Towards the end of the month, I was wondering if I could keep it up.  I have seemed to do nothing but work, sleep and post.  But then I thought about it and realised that in addition to the January posts, I’ve also prepared and scheduled a whole year’s worth of Manny’s birthday book posts, a few ‘On this day…’ posts and some special occasion posts for dates later in the year.

I have posted 35 posts in January, a couple of ‘pages’ and a page revision.  I’ve prepared an additional 62 posts for later in the year.  I don’t intend to keep that level up in coming months, but I won’t have to, because of the preparation and work I’ve put in, in this early stage.

I realised early on that I needed a plan.  A  post a day for a whole year wasn’t just going to ‘happen’.  I’m not that clever, or disciplined.  So I made a spreadsheet – have I mentioned that I love spreadsheets? – with every day of the year listed down in one column.

I enter the name of the post when it’s done, there’s a check box for when the post is finished, ready to publish and another check box for when it has appeared.  I’m using the spreadsheet to monitor my site stats as well – keep an eye on what posts get the most visits, and that sort of thing.  It’s colour coded, too so that I can see at a glance what’s going on.  The orangey blocks mark Saturdays – the year started on a Saturday, so my weeks start on a Saturday. The intermittent horizontal green bars mark the end of the week – Friday and note the number of posts etc. The vertical green column marks completed weeks – below the screenshot that column is white.  The other colours are posts in a series – the dark pink colour is the ‘Letters to Frank’, the purple bars are book reviews (there were a few of those in the first couple of weeks, after my book shopping spree.  Since then I’ve been reading The Forsyte Saga – so not much to report :).  The white bars are posts that are not in a series, just posts.

The Manny’s birthday book series involved scanning all the pages with entries, photoshopping all the scans, and then preparing each post.  I finished preparing the posts in the last couple of days of the month.  That process wasn’t linear either.  I scanned them all at once.  Then I prepared the first few posts, because they were coming up – so I photoshopped the images for those ones, then wrote the posts.  Some of the posts require a bit of ad hoc research, which I do as I’m writing (sometimes this leads to further investigation, and occasionally another post).  Then I photoshopped a few more, and prepared a few more.  Then I bit the bullet and sat down one day and photoshopped the rest.  And then I bit the bullet (again) and started writing/researching the posts, and updating the spreadsheet all along the way, so I knew where I was.

In addition, behind the scenes, I have entered all of my old index cards onto new cards, and entered their contents into a spreadsheet, and updated my tree in GenesReunited.  This was a huge project that took alot of time and generated only a couple of posts in the process (so far), including one about the process.

I’ve felt frustrated at times that this has allowed me very little time for new research.  But I keep reminding myself that the best projects are at least 60% preparation and planning.  Signing up for Post A Day only a day or two before the start of the new year didn’t really allow time for planning and preparation beforehand, so I’ve been doing it while also doing the January posts.

And thats ok.  I’ve managed at least one post every day in January. So far so good. And I’ve learned and discovered some new things along the way.

It turns out my daughter’s favourite posts so far are the Letters to Frank series.  Although she has access to the originals, she finds them hard to read, so she likes the transcript and the memories that they generate.

My goals for February are:

  1. A post a day (obviously)
  2. Scan all my existing certificates – this is something I haven’t yet got around to, and some of them arrived on very special thermal paper in the 1990s, so they are getting dark and might need replacing.  I have some more on the way, thanks to the research I have done while posting in January.
  3. Create a series of small 3-4 generation ‘family tree’ charts to add to posts – something my daughter (my ‘key stakeholder’) requested, to better understand where the people I’m talking about fit in, in relation to me (and therefore her).
  4. Start following up a few of the loose ends I’ve uncovered during January
  5. Get out and take some photos of historic buildings, houses my ancestors have lived in, cemeteries – that sort of thing.

I’d like to hear from the people reading ‘out there’ – is there something you like? something you’d like to know more about? something you’d like to see that isn’t here?

Comments welcome!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2011 8:16 am

    I just admire your stamina. You have set yourself a mammoth task and have had a brilliant first month.
    I look forward to reading for the next eleven months.

  2. postadaychallenge2011 permalink
    February 2, 2011 9:48 am

    Could you give me a link or pdf on your spreadsheet? I really like your idea. I would like to track my monthly progress esp with this blog a day thing and then analyze the monthly progress. Thanks, Jackie

    • Michelle permalink*
      February 2, 2011 8:17 pm

      Happy to, Jackie – I’ve emailed you to ask what format you’d like it in.

  3. February 5, 2011 12:14 pm

    You have given me food for thought with your blog planning. I have only made a few posts and now that I’m back at work I feel a little overwhelmed about how to blog on a regular basis throughout the year. I have a couple of family diaries from the 1850s and another from the 1880s which would be good to blog. Would a copy of your spreadsheet be too much to ask also. Thanks.


  1. Post A Day 2011 review – February « Michelle's Heritage

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