DOOR ONE, TWO OR THREE
It always amazes me how steadfastly people research, however, they tend to overlook some of the most basic variations.
I have actually had people tell me the following:
"I need to find the parents of my great great grandmother Susie. I know that Susie had a brother named John and one named Frederick. I found Frederick listed in his father's will."
Now you would think that someone would put together the fact that Frederick and Susie are siblings and that perhaps their parents were one and the same.....
I call this type of researching "using the back door " (or the side window).
If you cannot find the ancestor you are searching for try looking for a sibling. Especially if the ancestor is a woman who may have married, making them more difficult to trace. The son would have stayed with the family name.
I once was researching one of the male surnames in my line and could go no further with it. On an impulse I began researching his wife's name and hit a goldmine. I found another researcher who was researching the wife's line and had just tons of data on the husband.
Sometimes you must look for the "unobvious" connections and work from those. Yes, you might take a few days following a very peripheral line, but you might also get lucky and hit something you do need. I like to call these "lucky accidents".
So basically if you cannot enter through the front door of a surname, you might try the side entrance or the back door.
Of course, if you are just wanting to kill time, you might attempt to put all of the surname into the correct various families within a county ( I did that) almost made me crazy. But it did turn up some most interesting facts and connections.