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Ultra-Streamlined Style for bullet journal

I might have a little time here and there to do creative designs with my journal. But usually I just need it to help manage the day. What's the fastest way to manage a bullet journal? As with many things in life, it depends. Let me offer an overview of the Universal Journal ultra-streamlined style.

The Universal Journal style intends to help you spend as little time as possible setting up and using your bullet journal. It's counter productive to get burned out on a tool that's supposed to help you avoid burning out. This graphic recaps the basics. Check out some other posts on the topic. Bullet Journal Ultra-StreamlinedEfficient workflowDecluttering your JournalStreamlined Color CodingPrintables
Thanks for visiting Universal Journal. Got any minimalist ideas you'd like to share with the rest of us? Please comment here.

Ultra-Streamlined Style Part 2

Continuing with the Monthly Module set up from the previous post, which focused mainly on the left page of the monthly spread, let's tackle the habit tracker on the right page.

bullet journal water hydration tracker

Style Basics

A quick recap of the principles of the Ultra-Streamlined Style:
  • avoid using unnecessary tools (extra tools require extra time to use)
  • avoid drawing lines when space can be used instead
  • write no more than necessary (purely functional use)
If you need a full page or even full spread for your habit tracker, this approach isn't for you. For those who could benefit from a smaller habit tracker, this technique combines the monthly module with the tracker to avoid redundancy where possible.

Setting up the tracker

In keeping with the recommended monthly module as described at, which includes a tasks list, this Ultra-Streamlined Style makes room for a habit tracker on the task list page (the right page of the monthly spread).

In this technique, the right page borrows the dates and weekdays already marked on the left page. The weekly subdivisions help in visually keeping track of your weeks and make it easier to maintain the tracker. The tracker works best with this technique if the tracker requires no more than half of the width of the page.

If you allowed some margin space on the bottom of the dates column on the left page, you'll have space at the top and bottom of the habit tracker to label the columns. Just above and just below the tracker, a single letter or icon of any kind can suffice for each habit you want to track. Labeling above and below is repeated writing, but it may help speed up the use of the tracker making it easier to manage through out the month.

If necessary, you can spell out (vertically) the full label over each symbol above the top row of icons.

Using the tracker

Let's take a closer look at the tracker itself. If you'll notice, the set up is written in one color, while the actual use of the tracker is a different color. This visually helps to distinguish your tracked data from the frame you already created. Using a multi-color pen can accomplish this without having to carry multiple writing implements.

Hydration (quadrant counter)

Many of us have a problem getting enough water each day. In the left column of this tracker is a streamlined counter system I created - a quadrant counter. This icon is made through out the day, using a line to represent each 8oz glass of water consumed. After four glasses, you will have drawn a square. For the next two glasses, draw either a vertical or horizontal line inside the square; this results in a plus sign inside the outer square. You should have four small empty squares at this point.

Next, you can color in a couple of the small squares for glass seven. And color in the last two for glass 8. A fully filled square indicates 8 glasses have been consumed. Congratulations!

This quadrant counter can be used for any number of things. After the sixth mark, with four empty squares, this system could be used as a 10 counter rather than an 8 counter, if you need to count up to 10 items per day for what ever reason.

Double counter

If you have a category of something you need to do each day, which needs to be done twice, you can use a percentage style or X style double counter. In this counter, start by simply marking a diagonal line in that category. During the day, as you accomplish one instance of this task, mark a dot above or below. In my case, I'm working on two foreign languages, so it matters to me whether the dot is on the top or the bottom. As you can see in the photo, I did well at keeping up with one language but not both.

Using primarily dots, this system is quick and easy to maintain and easy to read after the fact. It's all about speed and ease of use. (see part 1 and part 3)

Got any other streamlined habit tracker ideas? Comment here.


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In this ultra-streamlined approach to bullet journaling, it's not only the layouts and designs that are minimalist, but the techniques for using the system as well. The flow of your tasks, appointments, etc. from one module to another can be tricky. Or it can be simple. It's all a matter of how you manage these things.

In my journal, most items end up in the daily log for the day I intend to handle them. That may or may not happen on the actual day assigned but the most important thing is I don't lose track of stuff. The daily log is the last stage of a task/event filtering technique. T…

Streamlined Weekly Log

Not everyone uses a weekly log in their bullet journal. For those who do, here are three variants on one streamlined design. Each is an elegant 6 column spread with plenty of room for daily tasks an ample space for other information.

Variant 1: by kerrystudies on tumblr

Variant 2: by northernplanner on instagram

Variant 3: by u/ghostsco on reddit

Do you have other ideas for a weekly log? Comment here and be sure to subscribe!

DIY Add a paper pocket to your journal

Got a plain old notebook? There are plenty of options out there and you may not find one with all the features you like. But journalers are already familiar with customizing their journals and we tend to like that. Here's a super easy DIY option for a pocket.

Not everyone needs a pocket in their journal. If you want a pocket but don't have one, here is a very simple method using one Legal or A4 size sheet of paper and double-sided tape. (Affiliate links included.)

The Universal Journals are printed by Any print on demand service will be limited compared to a traditional printer. As capable as is (with quick turn around, worldwide availability, lots of product options for customers, and more), there are lots of things journalers might want in their Universal Journal that Lulu just can't do. At least not at this time. But this also makes for ideal customization. Make it your own.

Got any other ideas for adding a pocket to a book? Comment here. Be sure to su…