FLYing With Evernote

This is a guest post from Jennifer Herbek. Jennifer and I have been Army wives together for just under a decade. We have a combined of 6 kids,  12 moves, 7 deployments and 2 crazy, chaotic lives. She has always been a master organizer, so I was thrilled to learn she had taken my Evernote with GTD technique and combined it with the FLYLady. Organization PLUS a CLEAN HOUSE! Does it get any better than that?! I am fortunate enough that she took the time to give us all the step by step instructions on how to do it. Read more about Jennifer’s life on her blog, HOOAH, Ever After.

I need to confess something: On any given day, I live life on the edge of chaos…both the literal sense and in the CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) of the FLYlady. I have three kids: 5 years, 3 years and 1 year. My husband is in the Army so we’ve moved five times in five years and are preparing for yet another move this summer. Toss in a fluffy dog, part time graduate school, a couple of volunteer projects that I am crazy enough to think I have time for and — Voila! CHAOS with a side of madness. That’s my life, and a love it but I know I’m not the only one that wants a little more organization and predictability to life. Evernote and my FLYlady routines are the only things that keep me (most days) on THIS side of chaos.

Below are instructions for creating a FlyLady Control Journal in Evernote. I don’t use a binder because I hate having it on my counter, I don’t really use paper for much anymore and I need something easily transportable. I know FLYLady has some calendar applications and to-do list tools, but I didn’t want to learn another gadget, add another app to my already crowded smart phone or fragment my information. (I don’t have time to hunt through my Outlook Calendar, iCal, Evernote or other devices for my appointments, shopping lists and other reminders.)

In true FLYlady style, here’s a quick warning: If you are not already a FLYbaby, please don’t attempt a control journal just yet. Tackle one thing at a time! First, go to her website ( and start with her Baby Steps. Come back to these instructions whenever FLYLady gives you Control Journal tasks. Likewise, if you are new to Evernote, take some time to check out Lauren’s e-book: A Mom’s Guide to Evernote, to help you get started with Evernote quickly.

For those of you that already have Control Journals or those ready to create your first Control Journal, here’s a step-by-step guide, in my best FLYlady method: (Remember, fellow FLYbabies, you don’t need to do this all at once…five minutes a day on each step will get you there!)

1. Set it Up: Create a Notebook Stack titled “Control Journal”. Within that Stack, created two notebooks: “Routines” and “Zones”. This is similar to the first two sections of the FLYLady’s Control Journal, but instead of tabbed dividers, you are using separate Notebooks in a Notebook Stack.

2. Create your Daily Routine: The first note you’ll need in the Routines Notebook is your “Daily Routine”. List your morning routine and before bed routine. (For more on creating these routines, see the FLYlady’s 31 Day Baby Steps  and her Guide for Building a Control Journal. My first note looked like this:











Yours will look different since our Morning and Before Bed Routines are different. The FLYlady’s Control Journal instructions suggest creating a separate page for each routine but I did not separate them so I could work from one Note all day. Don’t worry about the fancy check-boxes; just get your routine in there and pretty-it-up later! New FLYbabies, spend a week or two here and give yourself time to tweak your daily routine as you work through the 31 Day Baby Steps.

3. Create Your Weekly Routine: FLYLady’s Control Journal has this in a separate section, but I found it cumbersome to flip between my Daily Routine and Weekly Routine. Again, I like to work from one Note all day. Create a new note in the Routines Notebook for each day of the week. Copy your daily routine (from step 2) into each day of the week note and add in your Daily Focus and any additional routine tasks. (I like to save that original routine note as a template.) For example: Monday is my Planning Day, so I’ve listed that as a reminder and added tasks for “Planning” into my afternoon routine. Here’s what Monday looks like, for me:

I’ve highlighted the Monday-specific changes I made to my original Daily Routine. Again, your routine will look different; modify it however you need and create one note for each day.

Here’s a rundown of how each of my days differs in the Routines Notebook:

MONDAY – Planning Day
- Planning: Calendar, Meals, Grocery List, Errands, Reminders

TUESDAY – Desk Day
- Desk: Pay Bills, Balance Checking Account Register, Assess Budget, Respond to E-mails

WEDNESDAY – Grocery/Errand Day
- Clean out Fridge (Morning Task, right as I’m cleaning up from Breakfast!)
- Errands
- Grocery Shopping
- Put out Trash (Thursday is Trash day for us, so I add this into my routine right after cleaning up from dinner.)

THURSDAY – Hobby Day
- Blog, volunteer work, etc

FRIDAY – Home Blessing Day
- Home Blessing Hour: bathrooms, dust, vacuum, change sheets, empty trash, purge magazines, etc.
- Car and Purse Clean Out

SATURDAY – Family Day
- Family Fun

SUNDAY – Renew Your Spirit Day
- Church
- Calendar Review w/ Hubby
** TIP: I like to save the Weekly Missions e-mail directly into Evernote at put it in my Routines Notebook for quick reference during the week.

4. Create your To-Do List: Now that you have routines established, you need a system to remember what non-routine tasks you need to accomplish that day or week. FLYlady doesn’t have a To-Do list in her Control Journal so I adapted Lauren’s GTD Lists in Evernote to my Control Journal. (For more on her GTD system, see her post here:

In my Notes for each day, at the very top of each Routine I added Lauren’s GTD:

5. Create your Zones: In the Zones Notebook, created a note for each of FLYlady’s Zones and saved her PDF detailed cleaning into a new note. ( Easy Peasy. You can copy/paste the text and to modify each zone’s list to reflect your house and family. No more running to her website for the cleaning list!

Once you have your basic Control Journal running, you can add to it as you need. There are several other sections she recommends for your basic Control Journal: Emergency Contacts, Family Info, Inspiration, etc. You can certainly add these to your Control Journal, though Evernote gives you more options for organizing and storing info than just a Control Journal. If you are a hard-core FLYbaby, FLYlady offers downloads with Word and PDF files on her website ( for specialty Control Journals like the Holiday Control Journal, the Home Maintenance Control Journal, Financial Control Journal and more. It’s very easy to use the word file to create the specialty journals in a new notebook within your Control Journal Notebook Stack. Just copy and paste each section into a new note and you’ll be ready to go!

For daily use, you can cycle through your saved Day of the Week notes in the Routines notebook. At the end of the day, copy the GTD portion of today’s routine into the next day’s routine and update the GTD portion as needed. I do not create a new note for each day, I just cycle through my saved Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/etc Routine notes. If you like checking off the boxes in your Routine each day, you can create a new note for each day. If you want to create new notes, I would suggest keeping a separate note with all of your templates for your Daily Routines so you can copy/paste a clean version into each new note.

Happy FLYing!


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