The key, at least for me, to dancing with the ancestors, is organization.
Or, as the title suggest . . . O-R-G-A-N-I-Z-A-T-I-O-N!
Okay, first, I'm not the most organized person in the world. Trust me, with family research comes lots and lots of paper (yes, I've increased my carbon footprint - I try not to, but . . .), which I put in stacks, and then stack other stacks on top of the previous stacks until, well . . . it gets ugly, really, really ugly.
So, yesterday, in an OCD moment, I organized my stacks and stacks and stacks and stacks of paper.
First - separated the stacks by maternal and paternal.
Second - separated the maternal/paternal stacks into well, maternal and paternal again. Ha! Seriously, I took my mother's side and separated those stacks into paternal (her father's surname) and maternal (her mother's surname) stacks, and did the same thing with my father's family.
Third - I got a bunch of different colored folders - manila, red, green, and purple - and I began to put the different stacks (separated by surname) into each folder.
Fourth - I labeled the folders.
Now, with my paternal side of the family, it was a bit easier to label the folders.
For example, when working with my dad's paternal side of the family, I did this label: Mitchell - Paternal - Mitchell or Mitchell - Paternal - Tate (and whatever other names on this line of the family). Then, I did the same thing with his mother's line. Woo-hoo.
Now, with my mom's side of the family, it was a bit more complex, so I took a more simple route.
Example: Boone - Blandford
The reason: too many dang names and trying to keep it all accurate, well, impossible. So, I took the easier route, but . . .
. . . on the front of the folder, I traced the descent pattern as follows:
Blandford - Wright
Blandford - Beaven
Blandford - Hagan
Blandford - Hagan (don't get me started, it's complex, and a bit twisted, but they weren't brother and sister - HA!)
Hagan - Boone
Boone - Hagan (again, don't get me started)
Boone - Duvall
Boone - Watson
Boone - Sweat
I did this on every folder related to the maternal line of my family tree. Yes, it took a bit of work, but, when I pull out the folder to work on that branch of the tree, I don't have to pull up Ancestry to check the descent, I have it right on the front of the folder. Okay, at some point I'll run a descent report and put it in every folder, but this just gives me ease of access to the information.
So, rather than do what I did, when you begin dancing with the ancestors, create the folders in the beginning so you don't have to spend hours and hours one sunny day organizing the stacks and stacks and stacks and stacks and stacks of information you'll accumulate when you begin dancing with the ancestors.