Control Journal – Keep Your Household Organized With One Of These

I’ve gotten quite a few questions about control journals or household organizers lately. I’ve kept one for years and couldn’t imagine living without it at this point. It’s the one piece of organization in a midst of chaos. Inside I have everything I need to remind me of what needs cleaned and changed when, emergency numbers, doctors appointments etc. I also keep my meal and cleaning plan in there.

This morning I came across an article about setting up a control journal. It has given me a few new ideas for my own journal and hope it will help you as well.

Getting Your Household Under Control

Several years ago I came across the idea of a household control journal on a website somewhere out there in cyber space. It could have been any number of websites as I have always been a nut for something that could help me stay organized and often did searches for such things.

The idea behind a household control journal is to have one place where you keep the important papers and lists that help you to run your home. This can be a wide-variety of things but typically includes a chores list, your grocery list, your menu planning list, emergency numbers, medical info, financial info, and your child(ren)’s school info.

These are the basic areas I cover in my control journal and though there are some areas, I use more than others they are all ones I would suggest doing. For me, having everything in one place is the best part of using the control journal.

I divided the different categories with a bright colored piece of card stock and labeled each area. The area I use the most or daily is the weekly chores list and the daily routines list. These keep me on track daily with my household tasks.

The other very useful section that I use on a weekly basis is the menu planning and grocery list section. I am a menu planner and therefore this section keeps all my meal ideas in one place. Many people make a master meals or menu list here to go by so that they do not have to think up new meals every week. I also keep my grocery list here to add things to as the week goes on and as I create my menu list on Wednesdays as I shop on Thursdays. Having this information all in one place is quite helpful.

I also use the finances area, but more on a monthly schedule. Each month I create a budget, a bill paying schedule and a savings schedule, because we do sinking funds and deposit the money in a money market account. This area helps me to keep track of all of these things and get the bills paid on time.

The other areas mentioned such as medical info and child(ren)’s school info are mostly used for reference at random times, but at least I know where to find the information when I need it rather than having to dig through piles of papers or search through files.

Using a household control journal has proved to be such a positive experience for me that I recently created a business control journal as well. Plus, it allows me to use one of my favorite organizing items, a binder.

When you create your household control journal, just remember there really is no wrong or right way to do them; the most important thing is that it works for you!

Alyssa Dees Avant is a Christian author, blogger, podcaster, speaker, and business owner, when she is not speaking to audiences of young girls and their mothers, she is writing as a freelance and ghostwriter. Whether she is sharing her passion with girls on the topics of beauty, modesty, and etiquette or with their moms on time management and organizing Alyssa has a true passion for helping others. Visit her on the web at or

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Shelley - July 13, 2010

I love my control journal, too! Being disorganized by nature, it has helped me stay on top of things and eliminated so much stress!
If we ever have a house fire, my husband is instructed to grab my control journal (after he gets the kids, of course!)

Marla - July 14, 2010

When our house burned down in 2007 while we were at our trailer, I had my control journal with me. In the midst of the worst chaos I have ever experienced, it was a godsend.

Terrie - July 14, 2010 is one of my favorite sites (and e-mails are great, too!) and they teach using a control journal. I have modified this idea and keep a notebook with basic info with me nearly all the time. I have typed out my phone number list and have it stapled into the front and back of the notebook. I add & change phone numbers, then update it on the computer next time it’s time to start a new notebook. I am so good at losing little scraps of paper with notes that this was the reason I started the notebook. I like to buy one with a pretty vinyl cover, since I might carry around the same notebook for months or a year or more. I keep Wal-Mart & grocery store lists in it, and scratch off items as purchased. When we do a home repair project I write notes and prices in my notebook. I write recipes, Christmas lists, and anything else important in my notebook. I save the old ones and still can go back and look up info from when we were getting ready to move 6 years ago and past projects we’ve done. A friend’s mom does this too and she refers to the notebook as her “brain”!

    Sherrie - July 15, 2010

    How do I get started with a journal? I have one for Xmas, one for recipes, one for school stuff…I also have a spiral I just jot things down in randomly but it gets rather confusing. One problem I have, I have an address book for email addresses and I list them alphabetically of course but for example… I will list it under “H” but if I am wanting to go to a website about organization I would look under “O”. How do you list them alphabetically and subject matter? I know this is a pretty dumb question.

      geekbearinggifts - July 16, 2010

      FlyLady’s page about building a control journal:

      Take what works for you and your family, and disregard things things that don’t apply. When you have experience with using your control journal you will understand better how much detail you need to go into when you are setting up a page for a new routine. After a while some things will become automatic, and you won’t need the information any more, but other people will when they take over for you while you are sick or away.

      And your question is not dumb. You can cross reference things as much as you need to. For instance, under “O” in an entry marked “Organizing” you might say, “See” Maybe you know someone named Mary at church who is in charge of a project you are working on for a homeless shelter, but you have a hard time remembering Mary’s name. You could have a reference under the name of your church (or “C” for church) listing her name, and another under “H” for Homeless Shelter listing her name.

Debi - July 14, 2010

I’ve been using my household notebook for years. I named mine ‘Alice’, from The Brady Bunch. She’s the one who seemed to keep things going around there…just like my Alice does for me!

Sherrie - July 15, 2010

Question? On this control journal- Terrie says she has her Walmart/Grocery lists in it…Do you carry this big binder with you to the grocery store and Walmart?

    Brandy Broadwater - July 15, 2010

    I have one and I take it to the store with me. I store my current grocery list in a clean, heavy-duty sheet protector and use a dry erase marker to check off the items off the list. Having my binder with me means that I also have any phone numbers I might need while I am out, pens, paper (handy for if you swing by a friends house and they aren’t there), etc..

      Suzette - January 5, 2011

      Maybe your friend has an electronic version of an organizer Flylady has just partnered with Cozi to have an online daytimer and it has groceries and walmart and that kind of thing. It is designed that you can mail your shopping list to your cellphone, or call in to get your list.

      I carry a modified control journal, on 3×5 cards, in the van with me. That way, I can grab out my list, but the telephone numbers and everything are there just in case. It eased my mind a lot to start doing this, I was trying to remember too many details before!

      There is lots of day by day help from flylady and also her community. She is also on facebook. You can find a lot of us at both her website and facebook.

    geekbearinggifts - July 16, 2010

    Many people take their control journals anytime they go out, but some will pull the shopping list out when they get to the store, and just take the list inside. FlyLady suggests using an Office in a Bag (OIB) to hold the control journal. It’s basically a zippered bag with handles which holds a standard 1″ thick binder, and has lots of pockets. She suggests taking it with you when you goes to the doctor’s office, know you’ll be waiting for your kids to finish a soccer game, etc., so you can get things done while you are waiting.

Becky - July 16, 2010

Another great journal to keep is a medical journal for you and your family. I kept one for my elderly mother whom I cared for and it was a godsend when I needed to take her to the Doctor. I would keep track of BP, weight, meds, tests and thier results, surgical procedures,Drs. names and Phone Numbers, and I had a complete medical history in front of book (or the best that we could remember). I kept a small calendar in book for keep track of appointments so that while at the office I always knew when we had another conflicting appt. It is extremeley hard to remeber someone else’s medical history and to still keep track of your own (yes I keep one for my self too). This can be very inportant when someone in the family needs to know if there is a particular illness in the family and these family members are no longer here. So include all the medical info you can get in the family history.

Chris - August 4, 2010

I am on Flylady as well. I have my main Cj for my cleaning routines. I also have a separate binder for my holiday stuff (some of which I downloaded from Flylady as well). I also have a binder (work in progress) for Evacuation. I have most of my husband’s and my medical papers as well as my cats medical papers. Both Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance give out booklets on evacuation (at least they do here in Canada), and Flylady as well as a couple of useful essays on preparedness. Crystal from Homestead Happenings also mentions how her “Home Management Binder” keeps her in check (she also includes a section for her homeschooling schedule). I have a separate binder for my price book and I have printed off both $45 and $70 menus from here, but being Canadian I have yet to convert the menus into Canadian dollars….procrastination hits again… lol :)

Terrie - August 5, 2010

Sherrie, the notebook I carry most everywhere with me is a single subject spiral notebook, and yes, I carry it in stores with me. I usually prop it in the shopping cart, open to the list I’m using. I like to buy a notebook with a pretty, vinyl cover so it will last longer.

christa - January 4, 2011

how can i see a example of your budget, grocery list?

christina - January 18, 2011

I love this idea! I found brightly colored dividers with tabs (pack of 6) and paper from the dollar tree with a binder I had on hand. I love that I don’t have lists everywhere and everything is in one spot and so neatly organized. I love that you can customize it to your needs as well. I love the menu planning as well which I have a tab for that and my grocery list tab is right after my menu tab so as I make my menu for the week I can write on my groc list what I need so I’m not buying what I already have on hand. My to do list is first so I can get it done and cross it off as I go. I also have my budget tab-school tab and misc tab so I can write websites down to refer to and all the wonderful ideas I learn from the Hillbilly Housewife website. This website is amazing and it has helped me and my family in so many ways! Thank you for all your great ideas! Keep them coming:)

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