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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 1

This first installment on the ultra-streamlined style will focus on the monthly module. It can be set up and filled in 10 minutes, focusing on a minimalist variation of the standard monthly module. (see the updated set up in this Plan with me video)

This technique features:
  • one-time writing of the days of week and month 
  • extra space for expanded descriptions calendar items 
  • habit tracker 
  • standard monthly task list

Style Set Up

One of the ways of reducing set up time for your bullet journal is to avoid unnecessary rewriting. In this case, a habit tracker is included in the monthly set up, rather than creating a tracker separately. Habit trackers typically require setting up the days of the month and/or week separately from the normal monthly calendar - duplicated effort. Here is a summary of the ultra-streamlined monthly module and a visual example.
  • weekly/monthly dates on the right side of the left page
  • dashed lines separating weeks
  • calendar on the left page, habit tracker and task list on the right page

Number the dates

On the left page of the spread, leaving a little margin space, choose a starting spot in the lower right hand corner. Starting from the LAST day of the month, number upward and backward, creating a column for the days of the month from bottom to top. Next, as is recommended in the official Bullet Journal method, start labeling the weekdays from top to bottom immediately beside the days of the month.

With this technique, the days are written only once but can be shared between the calendar on the left page and the habit tracker on the right page. Also, since this technique begins at the bottom, any extra space you may have at the top can be used for expanded descriptions.

Remember, the official recommendation for the Bullet Journal is to keep items on the calendar to a minimum since the space is so limited. If you need to include numerous details of an appointment, for example, you can write in a keyword with the time in the calendar area, and write all the detail you may need in the empty area at the top of the calendar page. This way the calendar is not cluttered with too much information, but that information is still available and easy to find. Of course, the size of this extra space varies depending on your particular notebook.

Mark the weeks

Next, if you've included the week days in your set up, you can separate weeks with a line between Saturdays and Sundays. These lines should stretch all the way to the left margin of the left page and extended into the habit tracker on the right page. This example shows a dashed line for each week separation. This is a simple, easy way of keeping track of the weeks of the month without having to make a separate weekly module.

At this point you're half way done, and after a little practice you could set up this much in 5 minutes. In the next post, we'll take a close look at the other half of this ultra-streamlined monthly module, the habit tracker on the right page. (click here to see part 2)

Quick Tip - page title

If your particular notebook doesn't allow for much empty space above the calendar and you want to make as much room as possible, you can leave a little margin on the left side of the calendar for the month's page title. You can write the month's name at a right angle to the details area of the calendar page, giving you a little more space.


  1. "Next, if you've included the week days in your set up, you can separate weeks with a line between Saturdays and Sundays. "
    You mean "between Sundays and Mondays". For most of us who work, a new week starts on a Monday.

  2. Sure. What ever works best for your situation.

  3. I guess I was just wondering why you picked that as *your* default rather than one that works for most people?

  4. I guess because in my circles most people use the standard calendar configuration. I didn't think through that very much, sorry about that.

  5. OK; I guess this is one of those cultural differences. In my country, a "standard" calendar starts from Monday ... I think for on-line tools you have the option to configure for your week starting on either Monday or Sunday (but I guess one could also configure it to start on Saturday if that is how you want to think about things!)

    1. Obviously, the bullet journal and all its templates are configurable to each individual's preference. That includes any custom design. It's generally acknowledged that the bullet journal, ultimately, is customized to the individual, so any mention of 'standard' can be taken to be general rather than prescriptive. Cultural differences are up to you, not the designer of a template.

    2. Yes, that's *exactly* what I mentioned - that its a "cultural difference".

    3. Right, so it's weird that you took issue with the author's default.

  6. My 'work week' is Tuesday through Friday. I'm off Saturday through Monday. Although I'm retired, I still have events, commitments, and errands to do....


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