It seems to me that my first project ought to be to organize what bits of paper I already possess. With Christmas break coming up, I'll have some extra time to devote to this project.
Right now all my family documents (such as they are) exist in actual and virtual file folders. The real ones consist of one file per family (Hood, Nordstrom, Eldridge, and Epperson), plus a fifth miscellaneous one which contains useful items like library maps. Oh and there is a bonus folder of notes I took while I was in Knoxville that have languished in the said folder since August. The items in these files range from copies of letters, death notices and those little programs you get at funerals, photocopies of newspaper clippings, handwritten notes and who knows what else.
The virtual files on my computer live in four places. There is the genealogy folder, the images from Ancestry folder, an FTM folder, and photos scattered throughout the official Windows picture folder. Many of the the files within the genealogy folder are copies of notes. I got in the habit of typing up all my notes when I worked as an architectural historian. By the time I got to my PhD I skipped handwritten notes entirely; information went straight from the source to the computer.
I must admit the papers and notes I collected while doing my PhD are just as disorganized. I was always moving things from Scotland to the United States, on top of not being sure how to organize them in the first place. Actually, I think I am just a disorganized person. Everything in my house looks neat and tidy, but open any drawer, cupboard or file cabinet and the illusion is quickly shattered.
There was a discussion on the APG conference in Knoxville about organization and offices. Some people are terribly tidy, others were not; some used file folders, others notebooks; some had TONS of space, others not so much. One woman had NO paper files because she had no room for them - if it wasn't digital it became digital.
I have a medium amount of space and a small budget. Actually there is limited shelf space, but I could create more file cabinet space. But I do love the idea of notebooks. I am comfortable using the computer and kind of like the idea of making as much as possible digital. Would I miss being able to handle actual paper?
There are too many choices and I need help. Since I'm basically starting from scratch, I thought I'd ask you for advice. How do you organize your family history files? What do you think is a good system? What works for you? Are there good "how-to" books? Files or Notebooks? How cheaply can this project be done? Any experience using OneNote? Anything that ended up being a bad idea? Real or virtual?
Send your thoughts via the comments or contact me via email. I'll publish a summary of what everyone suggests and announce what I decide to do. Then, if all goes according to plan, I'll actually do it.