How do you handle "rabbit trails"?

+13 votes
Hello. My name is Anita and this is my first post here in the Tree House. I start out my morning thinking I will work on a particular family group. Then, I keep finding myself distracted by rabbit trails to the point I don't even remember who I was working on. Do you think this is because of my Multiple Sclerosis or does it happen to you too? How do you handle it and keep things straight as you are going? I feel like I need to be in a room with my tree drawn out on the walls to help me keep it straight. (I think my husband and the landlord would not appreciate that one bit.) Even with keeping a note pad handy with the family du jour listed I can get lost very quickly. TIA for any suggestions to help me untangle my brain.
in The Tree House by Anita Turner-Ayres G2G Crew (640 points)

I’m starting to think I need to carry a .22 when heading down those. laugh

I have done the exact same thing, lost my way,  not remembering where I started. Eventually I find my way back and start down another trail. It’s a curse.

It's always wabbit season at my house.

laughlaugh You too funny!

The internet is a land-mine for me. I want a new shirt. I go to I find a shirt I kinda like but there are other outlets to get the shirt. Maybe a local mall with a cheaper price. I consider going to the mall but I'm lazy. So I cruise around trying to find that lower price online. I see some cute shoes that I could also buy to go with my new shirt. Those shoes are lower priced elsewhere. I end up (two hours later) with no shoes, no shirt, and no life.

Welcome to my world.
Thanks everyone. I appreciate all the answers and especially realizing I am not alone. :) Anita
Research is obsessive, think that's one word applied, addicting is another word I've seen used ... put a PM in a locked room with a keyboard and 20 minutes to find out the code to unlock the door and the PM ill spend 6 hours cruising the www dipping into "codes: who uses them?" and "At Runnymead, Boswell used a code" and "Blessing Munore (who is the 8th ggfa of the PM) was a code writer" and .... the PM might never get that door unlocked but he or she has had a fabulous time researching ...
Like many others have stated. It's not MS. I start with family member A. Then somehow end up working on someone from their in laws 3 generations back, including their children, their inlaws and then I forgot who I started on.

You sound normal to me ! laugh

9 Answers

+18 votes
Best answer

Sounds like you have an intractable case of stage IV genealogical enthusiasm. Only treatment option is to accept it, embrace it, surf that wave and enjoy the ride. 


by Alex Stronach G2G6 Pilot (160k points)
selected by Susan Smith
+21 votes
Sounds to me like you have a perfectly normal Wikitree brain.
by C. Mackinnon G2G6 Pilot (194k points)
That is what makes WikiTree so fun!
+18 votes
Not from MS!  (unless I am un-diagnosed HA!)

It happens to me all the time Anita. Over the years I've learned that sometimes I enforce strict discipline on myself and follow all the color-coded names & notes laid out before me in my handy-dandy spiral notebooks and that sometimes I just have to let go and follow record trails wherever they take me--especially when the trails/people really pique my interest.

There's just no 'right way' for any given day. Do whatever/however it takes to keep this interesting and exciting and not just a data-entry job!
by Nick Andreola G2G6 Mach 2 (21.8k points)
+13 votes


It's common to all of us.

A couple of interesting posts and

One thing I will do is add research notes for a family that I'm working on, with a list of spouses and children, then add the link as I complete profiles, and sometimes delete research notes when done.

It happened to me recently. I saw a name on the tags I follow. Then found the orphaned unsourced profile for father and grandfather. That sent me to a family genealogy and woohoo I even found the will for the father.

by Kay Sands G2G6 Pilot (235k points)
+9 votes
This is why I enjoy helping people on forums: I get to chase down a bunch of rabbits, drop my catch in a neat pile, and go chase squirrels for the next person.

When I'm chasing my own critters, there's all sorts of keeping track needed at the end that I'm not so good at and don't much enjoy. Plus, my attempt at a solution -- having multiple places to record stuff, so that nothing gets lost -- is part of the problem, because I go to look up whether I already have a source or not, but I don't remember where I should be looking.

(In theory, the offline/local file is the primary storage location, since I don't need to worry about preserving anyone's privacy or violating copyright. In practice, FamilySearch's Family Tree ends up as Step One, because 99% of my sources are there, and about half of them have stray auto-profiles associated with them that need to be merged and cleaned up. WikiTree is my "final draft", but it's in third place: what's here is as complete as I can get it, but there's a lot that ain't here yet.)
by J Palotay G2G6 Mach 3 (33.7k points)
+8 votes
Pretty normal behavior. I can start  working on one person's documentation and am soon chasing other clues. Sometimes that actually leads to information you would not have found otherwise. So just go with the flow and you will eventually get back to where you started with a lot of new information and insight!
by Daniel Bly G2G6 Mach 2 (28.7k points)
+10 votes

I love rabbit trails.  I run down as many of them as I can.  smiley

by Nan Starjak G2G6 Pilot (223k points)
+7 votes
I just follow them until I am lost and then try to find my way back out of the woods - or tall grass!!
by Virginia Fields G2G6 Pilot (194k points)
+4 votes
Hello Anita!

I, too, have MS. This is a separate diagnosis from advanced enthusiastic genealogical persuit on Wikitree. There's no cure. Some interventions include documenting the profile you are working on every 10 minutes or so, listing the wiki profile names and numbers so you can return, and break for a cuppa tea now and then.

 As to the MS, take a rest when you feel fatigued.
ago by Carol Baldwin G2G6 Pilot (102k points)

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