Wednesday, November 9, 2011

ProGen Month 1

We just finished our first month of the ProGen program with a group discussion. October's topics were Defining Professionalism and Ethical Standards; excellent subjects to begin a program like ProGen with. Our assignments had to do with citations and mission statements.

It was fabulous to prepare the assignment and get feedback from my classmates. The different perspectives people have are always helpful and keeps one on their toes.

This month's "light bulb moment" came from page 12 of the book, Professional Genealogy. In discussing research assignments, work must "... be performed with the greatest degree of efficiency possible in both time and cost." As hobbyists, efficiency in time isn't necessarily a priority. As professionals, doing client work, efficiency is a priority and a necessity. By doing my own personal research as if I had hired myself would be a great way to up the level of work performed  and better manage my personal research time (translation: you could find more of your dead ancestors!).

Have you heard of Parkinson's Law? Tim Ferriss discusses it in his book The 4-Hour Workweek. As Ferriss puts it, "Parkinson's Law dictates that a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion." (p. 77) How does this relate to your own research? Put a deadline on your research assignments, even if it's your own personal research. Then report back to yourself as if you were the client. See how much more you can get done.

The other thing I learned is that a mission statement really is critical to whatever kind of work you are doing as it will help you stay focused and communicate to others just what you are all about. It's also not easy to come up with one.

To learn more about the ProGen program visit their website.


Mills, Elizabeth Shown, editor. Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2001.

Ferriss, Timothy. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich. New York: Crown publishers, 2007.

To cite this post:

Goodrum, Michelle. “ProGen Month 1.”  Michelle Goodrum. The Turning of Generations, 9 November 2011. : 2011.

© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum


  1. Michelle Dahling!

    I was in the very first Pro Gen course. It was one of the best things I ever did to further my genealogical education. 18 months is a long time but you will be a better genealogist for having done it. You go Girl!

  2. Glad you enjoyed this task. I look forward to reading more about your experience.

  3. Michelle. Enjoyed your post. This will be a great experience.

  4. Jamie, Thank you. I agree it will be an excellent experience.

    Amy and Sheri, You are two of the reasons I am in ProGen now. I remember reading some of your posts on ProGen when I first started blogging and it got me interested. Thanks!!!!

  5. Michelle, I agree with Sheri, ProGen is one of the best things I've done for my genealogical education (I was in ProGen 5). I worked hard but learned so much. Enjoy the experience and your group of peers--you'll get to know them well over the next 18 months! (And I do remember that little mission statement wasn't easy to write...)

  6. I'm looking forward to your reports of the experience. I like the idea of time management. (I certainly need more of that.) While I don't really plan on becoming a professional, I hope to join a ProGen group in the future; but definitely not before March.

  7. Congrats Michelle! Your turn in Pro Gen! Enjoyed your post and look forward to the next one! Enjoy the journey!

  8. Glad you are enjoying ProGen! Very true about doing work for others on their time and money! Efficiency is a must. You will get a lot out of ProGen. Enjoy it!

  9. Shelley, I am beginning to appreciate what you mean by getting to know your peers well.

    Karen, You will be glad you waited until the time is right to be able to devote your energies to the program. I waited for over a year to sign up. Now that the Family Home is sold and kids are off to college, the time is right.

    Cheryl, Thanks! I will enjoy the journey.

    Jen, Thanks. And thank you for your periodic update on ProGen. They kept the program on my radar screen until the time was right.