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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.

Decluttering your bullet journal, and maybe your life

As in any area of life, your bullet journal is a place that can get messy even while helping you. An organized schedule involves more than just keeping something on record. It's also a matter of making that record easy to find when you need it. Your approach to journaling is often a reflection of your mindset for life. Do you want a less cluttered mind? You can cultivate this very thing with your journal.

decluttering your bullet journal and your life

In case you haven't noticed, a minimalist approach, by definition, is meant to keep the unnecessary to a minimum. Mind boggling, I know. But you have stuff you need to keep track of. Sometimes a lot of stuff. So let's look at some details where we might be able to declutter your journal.


Have you ever seen a book where every possible inch of space is printed on every single page? I saw a page like this once in a presentation that was about the value of margin space. This was about margin space in life, not merely on the page. Filling every possible second with something to do, every day, was a lifestyle for me. And I was getting burned out. The page without margins showed me the value of resting. Even the simple practice of reading on a page with no margins and comparing to a page with margins showed the value of rest.

Sometimes you're going to be ridiculously busy and you have to find a way to make it work. But life doesn't have to be that way for 60 years straight. Find your margins where you can. You can probably find some margin space if you look for it. It takes a mindset, an intentional awareness to do this. You can practice this mindset in little things such as your journal.

This should be a guilt-free endeavor. Yes, you have stuff to do. But if you get burned out or lose your mind, you won't be doing any of that stuff will you? At the very least your productivity will suffer. Life should not be all about the stuff you have to do. Mostly perhaps, perhaps not, but certainly not all.

If you want to build a mindset of margin space, try using empty space to separate things in your journal where you can. This is a main feature in the Universal Journal style. Sometimes you need to actually draw a line, but many times some empty space will do the job. Looking for the resting places is the trick, where you write what you need but in a way that keeps it clear where everything is without unnecessary stuff intruding. Looking for these opportunities in your journal can help build a habit of seeking moments of rest. And that's a good habit to build in your life.


minimalist daily log bullet journal

To use space more intentionally may require changing up your layouts. This blog showcases numerous layouts on any number of purposes, from the monthly spread to the future log, to the daily logs, and more. Check out the categories in the right side menu (if you don't see it on screen try the hamburger icon).

A layout that allows for margin space will help facilitate this margin-awareness mindset. When your journal content is split up intentionally into certain spaces, close proximity is fine as long as it's clear to you where everything is. You don't need to fill up every possible inch as that would seem to encourage a cluttered mindset.

It's a very similar thing for your schedule. If you can set up your schedule, even part of it, in a way that allows for rest, you should. Your mind needs some breathing room just like your body needs sleep, food, and other stuff. For me, life gets very stressful if I don't have any thinking time where I can ruminate on ideas. Constant, wall-to-wall input and a 24 hour dose of go-go-go is not healthy for me.

Also, a layout that requires a lot of lines may add to the clutter. If you can use printables instead, that's a good alternative to manually writing things out. It could be, as in many things, less is more.


Perhaps a simpler color scheme could help declutter your journal. Personally, I use a 3 color scheme with one pen. A lot of supplies can make for very appealing layouts, or they can slow you down and add clutter. If you need something that POPs to help with your journaling but you don't feel very creative, a lot of people use stickers instead (I hope you don't mind an affiliate link).

bullet journal system 3 color pen


Maybe, just maybe, you're trying to manage too much stuff in your journal. Do you really need to include ALL that stuff? If it's something that absolutely must be done, but it has a good chance of falling through the cracks, by all means manage it in your journal. But are you putting stuff in your journal just to put something in there? Surely you can find a better use of your time and journal.

Along the lines of reducing what you really NEED to put in your journal, perhaps a more functionalist approach will help. The bullet journal is, of course, a creative outlet for many. As I've mentioned before, you can designate pages specifically for that purpose where you can work on your artistic endeavors at a more amenable time. On the other hand, reducing what you put in the journal in the first place could prove beneficial.

Keep in mind some people find the task of creating their layouts and content relaxing and therapeutic. That's fine. The ultimate rule for the bullet journal system is do what works for you. But that assumes you know what works for you. If bullet journaling is for you anything like it is for me, it's largely a process of experimentation and discovery. If what you're doing in your journal causes stress rather than relieves stress, that's probably not working for you.

However you slice it, simply keeping less content can be a way of decluttering your bullet journal.

If you've got the time and the inclination to do the fancy artistic work in your journal, more power to you. I always find it tragic when someone posts that they've quit the bullet journal system because _________________ reason. Often the reason ends up being the style they chose to implement, not the system itself.

I hope these suggestions help. Got any other ideas for decluttering the bullet journal? Please comment here, and be sure to subscribe!


Popular posts from this blog

Minimalist Bullet Journal Future Log Workflow

So you've spent some time building your bullet journal layouts and getting yourself organized. But it's just not quite working like you want it to. What's going on here? As is often the case, the what to do is only part of the question. How to do it is another. This is the first in a series of an amalgam between design and technique. Let's take a look at future log workflow.

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…