How to Use Evernote for Loop Schedules

posted in: homeschooling 8

Have you heard of loop scheduling for your homeschool? Sarah Mackenzie wrote about it awhile back and got us all thinking and talking about it: Loop Scheduling for a Recovering Type A.

Pam Barnhill, in her Plan Your Year Kit, includes a section detailing the why and how of loop scheduling, and the kit also includes an audio interview with Sarah Mackenzie on how to make a loop schedule work.

So, how can we use Evernote for loop schedules and make them even more handy? I’ll show you how.


Three steps for setting up Evernote for loop schedules.

First of all, remember that not everything belongs in your loop schedule. Only those subjects that need to be done in rotation, not daily, go into the loop schedule. Then, in your homeschool time budget, you reserve a slot for “lessons,” and the loop tells you what to pick up next. You work through the loop in the time allotted, but once the time is up, you put it all away, picking it back up with the next item in the loop next time.

It’s a brilliant tactic, and Evernote can help you pull it off smoothly.

1. Create a loop schedule notebook, then add one note per subject in the loop notebook.

So, for mine, I titled the notebook “Elementary Lessons,” because that’s what we call the twice-weekly time where I do content lessons with my own and my friend’s big kids while the younger ones are at her house.


Then, each note inside it is one type of lesson I plan to do during our two-hour time period together. If each one takes about 20 minutes as planned, then we can do them all in one day. However, I know transitions and bathroom breaks and questions all take their toll, so it’s unlikely we’ll get to all of them every single class. That’s ok – with a loop schedule, that all becomes part of the plan instead of breaking the plan.

Inside each note, you have a few options. They might be your lesson plans, your list of books to read aloud, links to things to watch or listen to, or whatever else you do for that subject.

Here’s the beginnings of mine for science. We’ll be reading Anatomy, and so I’ve flipped through the book and written down chunks that should take approximately 15 minutes to read. Between chapters, I have an alternate reinforcement activity planned in. Now, instead of assigning those sections and activities to specific dates, which is thrown off the first sick day, or instead of winging it (more my style), we can just “do the next thing” in the list. The last week of every term will have its own special review game, regardless of where we are in the book. So, I made sure that this list has no more than 50 items, even though we’ll have about 60 classes planned.


For Shakespeare, my note has what each 20 minute lesson should contain, then a list of each of the things we’ll do for each play, then after that comes the three plays I’d like to do this year and the sources we’ll be using for each of them.


When we do Shakespeare in class, I’ll start a 15 minute timer. When the timer goes off, I wrap up what we’re reading or discussing and prepare to move on to the next thing. So whether we listen to one scene or half a scene, we’re only reading along to 15 minutes of play rather than pushing through an entire act or getting through as much as we can to wrap it up (which is what I ended up doing this last year, to the detriment of our comprehension and enjoyment).

2. Arrange the notes by date last modified.

You’ll note that each of the items in these lists have checkboxes. When we finish one item on the list, I can check it off so I know what to do next when we come round to it again.


Here’s where the magic of Evernote comes in. At the little icon up at the top of the notebook sidebar, there is a menu item called “Sort by.”


Choose “Date Updated” as your sorting option, then “Least Recent to Most Recent.”

Now Evernote will be the one looping your subjects for you – you don’t have to keep track of what’s next!

3. Work from your list when you start or after you’re done.

Whenever you check a box in a note, Evernote will move that note to the bottom of the notebook. Whichever lesson-note you’ve not done recently will be at the top of the notebook. So, whenever your time slot starts, you start with the note at the top of the notebook, do the next thing in the list inside that note, mark it off, then move on to the next note that is on top. Each time you check a box in the note, it will move to the bottom of the notebook.

Using Evernote for loop schedules is a great way to set up your lessons for “do the next thing” ease!

Evernote for Homeschooling series

8 Responses

  1. Patty
    | Reply


    I still don’t use evernote. I haven’t spent too much time with it yet, and don’t feel comfortable enough to use it for homeschooling. But this post has me almost convinced to spend some serious time this summer to learn the ins and outs of it.

  2. Christy
    | Reply

    This is great Mystie! I have to say, I got really excited when I saw “looping” and “evernote” in the same sentence. : D I’m trying to find that sweet spot between freedom and accountability. We use loops (thanks to Sarah and her book) and they have allowed me to chill and really enjoy this homeschool gig. I do find that I could use a little more accountability and/or structure with my loops, though. I like structure, but I know I need to also be relaxed in order to nurture my family relationships. I’m in the planning stage for next year right now, so I will have to let this evernote looping stew and see what happens. : ) Thanks!

  3. […] How to Use Evernote for Loop Schedules :: Simply Convivial […]

  4. Pam
    | Reply

    This is brilliant! I love that sorting feature and how it does the work for you. I also typed up “procedures” for my classes this year. Never thought of using an Evernote note to store those in. I just kept them in my teacher binder.

    And are you studying anatomy next year? If so we need to talk (about that). We are too and I want to know what you plan to use.

  5. Melissa D
    | Reply

    I am so excited about this post–I’ve just started using Evernote for my commonplace book, and this new function will be excellent for lesson-planning. Thanks!

  6. Beth Smoak
    | Reply

    Hi Mystie,
    I’m new to your website but am eager to try out evernote to help organize my homeschool day. I started a “Morning Circle Time” notebook and cannot figure out how to get it to move the items I check off to the bottom of my list. The “Sort By” icon that you mention above on my computer, does not look the same as yours does. I only have 3 options on the pull-down menu: List, Snippet, Card. Then below that, it says “Sort Notes by” with an arrow. Beyond that, I could not find anything that said “Least to Most Recent.” I’m probably doing something wrong, since I’m so new to it. Thanks for your help! I’m a little overwhelmed at the quantity of helpful ideas on your website. I think I need to take a few weeks off of school just to peruse it! :)

  7. Jen
    | Reply

    Love this idea, Mystie! Beth, I just checked and I don’t have that option either; my options sound just like yours. I’m thinking it must be a difference between a Mac and Windows (I have Windows 7). I just played around with it a bit and found that I do have a “reverse sort order” option which I think gives the same results. I clicked on “sort note by” then have “updated” checked. Way at the bottom is the “reverse sort order” option and when I UNchecked that the most recently worked on note goes to the bottom and the least recent one is on top. :-)

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