By Daniel Hubbard | September 23, 2013
“Hmm…I wonder if this the right family. It could be. Better check these new names and see if they clarify things…I’ll start with Reginald, that’s an unusual name.”
“Oh, what’s this? Ronald…Could that be Reginald? Better check that!”
“Wait, which window did I have that first document in? Ok, found it.”
“Here is a Donald that could be Ronald…Huh, this is strange but interesting. How does this fit? Oh, wait, it doesn’t. I’m looking for a Reginald that might be noted as Ronald but probably not as Donald. Now what window had the first document?”
“Oops, clicked the close button! I still need that! Well, it should be in my browser history…Hmm, what’s this item. I don’t remember looking at that. Better open it again and take a look. Oh yes, that! Now I remember that. Oooh! that is a familiar surname that I missed before. Now who were they?”
(Digs through database. Clicks through people with the same surname.)
“Hmm…might be the same family but nobody actually matches. Now what window had that first document?”
“Oh yes, I closed it. Where was the browser history. It was in one of these tabs. Here it is and there is the link for that document.”
“Ok, back in business. I better look at a few things to try to understand this.”
(Five new browser windows open in rapid succession)
“These don’t seem to be the same person. Time to try Google.”
“Wow, that’s a lot of hits!”
“Oh my gosh! Is that great-aunt Gladys that this site is talking about? Oh my, look at that image. I’ve never seen that clipping. Did she really do that!?”
“Wow, I didn’t know that great-aunt Gladys ever acted that way! Hard to believe that was really her. Better email the cousins!”
“Now, what was it that I was doing…? Oh yes, Donald…”
If that little dialog seems far too familiar, you may be suffering from geneADHDlogy.
Treatment is available.
Sometimes one of the most difficult parts of doing research is staying focused. There are many things that can help. Writing down a goal and documenting the steps you take as you take them can help keep things on track.
When I led meetings often in my telecom days, I learned a technique that probably has many names. I learned the name “parking lot.” It was a place to note down all the things that were said or asked that were perhaps interesting but were certainly off-topic. It was a way to ease that part of a participant’s brain that was stuck on a thought and didn’t want to let it go because then it might be forgotten. Sometimes a researcher is wise to put a thought or a document in their own private parking lot so that they can keep focus on the goal without being distracted by the possibility of forgetting about or losing that juicy story about great-aunt Gladys. Getting that straight can be the goal for another day.