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Bullet Journal, Ultra-Streamlined

While the capabilities of the bullet journal system are impressive, one of the best features is its customizability. If you don't want to spend hours preparing an organizational method that's supposed to save you time, keep reading.


Over at the official BulletJournal.com you'll see a short video describing the basics of the Bullet Journal method. There are also some good technique ideas on their blog.

You can search on Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube, and many other places to find ideas for your journal. There are a lot of ideas to personalize your journal that look great. But for those who want a quick, streamlined way to set up your Bullet Journal, and don't need it to be an expressive space, you're in the right place.
Style Basics What is the ultra-streamlined style? Essentially, it's an approach to bullet journaling intended to minimize the time to set up and use the method. Some tips for the ultra-streamlined style:
avoid using unnecessary tools (extra tools …
Recent posts

Remembering to use your bullet journal

What is it about writing on paper that is so fascinating? Writing in a journal, even if for pure function, has an appeal I can't explain that is fun in and of itself. Then there is the pragmatic value of bullet journaling: you keep track of stuff you need to get done. But what if you keep forgetting to even use the brilliant bullet journal system? Or what if you've lost the joy you once had using it?


There are myriad reasons people may neglect using their bullet journal. I don't know your situation and maybe the following is useless to you. But let me mention a few ideas that might help keep the habit.

Forgetfulness - Pick a time For those who neglect your journal because you keep forgetting, set an alarm right now. Pick a time either today or tomorrow (or maybe later in the week) when you expect to have a few minutes to think about this. You may need to tap the snooze button a few times, but keep that reminder active until you can sit down and go through your journal. You…

Minimalist bullet journal savings layout

We all recognize the importance of managing our finances responsibly and the bullet journal is a good place to do that. Finance is an area where I want to gather/create useful streamlined layouts.


In our financial lives we have budgets (telling ourselves what our money should do), expenses (tracking the reality of what we did the with that money), and savings (more long term planning). For the Universal Journal, if any of this is to be kept in the bullet journal, it must be streamlined to take as little time as possible to set up.

In an earlier post you can see what is essentially a check list/tracker for financial items that must be done on a monthly basis. That example doesn't involve any numbers, it's just whether something has been done, such as paying bills.

In this installment I'm experimenting with a minimalist savings chart. I will probably try out a landscape version but for now this portrait version is a first attempt. The idea is to keep a short term list of sav…

The ultimate minimalist weekly spread

To weekly or not to weekly, that is the question for some. For others, the question is how to weekly. Earlier posts on this blog featured some streamlined weekly spreads and some elegant weekly layouts all of which are minimalist and easy to implement. In this installment I've got something for you creatives and something for you functionalists.


Creative For those who like to create your own weekly spreads, Emily Tarver has a video featuring 5 minimalist and 5 not-so minimalist weekly spreads for your inspirational pleasure. The first five designs can be created more quickly than the latter five. Check out this 9 minute video where she explains as she writes out these 10 weekly spread ideas.


Ultimate Minimalist Weekly Spread For you functionalists, for whom minimalism is a priority, I found this amazing weekly spread at the Facebook group Bullet Journal Junkies. As we functionalists know, minimal effort, time, and maintenance is key in this approach to bullet journaling. One user …

Quick minimalist note page for bullet journal

When you need to take notes for a meeting/class/sermon/etc., try this minimalist two column approach to keep the information organized and quickly accessible in your bullet journal.


In this method, a 1:2 ratio has worked very well for me.

In the left column, taking a third of the page width, I keep non-content related details. The type of event or title (such as class name) begins the column and serves as the page title. Perhaps the room name or number may be relevant for some events such as a new class. In many cases the date of the event can be important. Also, any reference material can be named in this column such as books, chapters, videos, authors, etc. Lastly, any notes to self or action points fit here as well.

In right column, taking 2 thirds of the page width, I keep the content of the meeting itself. There is plenty of uninterrupted space to take notes in this wider column.

This is basically my event note spread. If I expect the event to require a lot of notes I make sure t…

Bullet Journal Community Opportunity

Do you want a chance to guest post your bullet journal experience? Elizabeth at Jihi Elephant is offering an opportunity!


Elizabeth has started a new Feature project where she offers her blog as a platform for you to reach out to the bullet journaling community. She asks for a short biography of each participant, a description of your bullet journey, and some advice you might offer those new to the bullet journal system. She'll accept up to 9 photos of your journal as well.

July's post on the Feature project shows two very different approaches to the bullet journal system. Elizabeth features BulletLeea and yours truly (the Universal Journal). BulletLeea took full advantage of this project, even sending in 9 photos. I sent in 4 but offered my two cents on my minimalist approach.

Elizabeth's Feature project is a great idea for encouraging journalers to interact with the broader community. It's common for folks in this realm to offer our own content but neglect interactin…

What do I really want from my bullet journal?

What all can the bullet journal system do for me? Could I get more out of my journal than I currently am? What do I really want out of this system? If you've asked yourself anything like these questions, keep reading.


You've no doubt already seen there are many ways to use the bullet journal system. It's amazingly customizable. But have you found your way? The way that really fits your life?

If you haven't discovered Valerie at mom knows it all let me introduce you. She takes a good look at the various ways to bullet journal in her post an intro to the different styles of bullet journaling. Valerie addresses multiple purposes of the bullet journal such as:
daily planner, organizerto-do listcreative outletmemory keeperpersonal improvementproductivity booster You've probably looked into all these options before but maybe not from Valerie's perspective. She describes a number of ways within each category to get good use out of the bullet journal. Check it out, mayb…

Real easy borrowed/lent list for bullet journal

Image this: you didn't realize you lost a library book until you tried to check out more. Or maybe you can't find that item you borrowed from a friend, and they want it back. Perhaps you lent something and wonder why you can't find it at home now, because you forgot you lent it out. It sure would be nice to have a list for all this.


Set up Here's a minimalist borrowed/lent list for your bullet journal. It starts with a row at the top of the page for all the organized details: Item name, quantity (Q), borrowed (B), lent (L), Date taken, RETurn date, and Damage (D). Note the spaces (rather than lines) used for borders. No need for lined borders, in my opinion, as that's part of the ultra-streamlined style. But designate the area as you wish.

Details This layout uses two rows for each item. The first row starts with the name of the item, and on the second row I include the name of the person I'm borrowing from/lending to.

In the Q B L area I list the number of ite…

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