It took me 6 hours to fix 3 generations (1750-1820) of one branch of family last night. I am disappointed in myself for making the wrong assumptions and never bothering to double-check my work after all these years. Luckily someone asked me about my Jackson branch which made me look at the tree again. Unfortunately I have some work ahead of me to get further down the line. Here are some famous DON'TS:
1. STOP CLAIMING EVERYBODY AS FAMILY - We are all guilty of that while doing research. Picking every person with the same last name ask kinfolk. Even if your family is on one side of the state and the rest are 100 miles from there. Its isnt always the case they are related. Especially if you have a common last name.
2. DON'T LATCH ON TO SOMEONE ELSE'S WORK - Life would be so simple if someone did all the work for me. Then what fun would that be? If your names do not match in someone else's tree (especially in ancestry.com), DO NOT ADD YOUR OWN without consulting the original owner. You need proof, try and find some. People hate that and I am one of them.
3. STOP RUSHING - Impatience never solves anything. You cannot condense hundreds of years in minutes no matter how fast technology is. If you run into a brick wall, go do another branch.
4. STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND REVIEW YOUR WORK - Have someone look over your work. Two eyes are better than one. Perhaps you missed something in the wee hours of the night you spent going through file after file. Revisit your old data periodically in case something new has appeared recently.
5. STOP USING THE SAME METHODS AND CHANGE YOUR STYLE - Your methodology for finding lost ancestors might work for one branch or generation but it might not work for all of them. Ask for suggestions on different tricks of the trade, research sources and techniques to uncover important information without the help of a census, bible or family reunion booklet.