Skip to main content

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.

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?

remembering and enjoying bullet journal

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 know being so busy keeps you distracted. And stuff often doesn't get done for a simple reason: because you haven't set aside a time for it. So do that. Set aside some time for your journal.

You may need to continue that alarm tactic for a while, or maybe not. I'm not talking about a medical condition like dementia, I'm only talking to the scatter-brained people out there. Maybe you don't need an actual alarm. The trick here is to make a reminder for yourself, something hard to forget. Having a specific time set for journaling may be what you need. This tactic works best if you can keep it consistent from day to day.

Forgetfulness - Keep it with you

Never leave home without it. If you're out and about, you might have a to do list or two. If you've written down these lists, but left the journal at home or locked away somewhere, what good does it do? What if you're discussing something and someone else brings up a good idea, or mentions a source you want to check out, or you agree to do something? It sure would be nice to have a good place to write that down, wouldn't it? Especially if you don't lose or forget the note before acting on it, right? Just make the journal part of your everyday carry and keep it with the stuff you bring with you everyday.

Burdened - Keep it simple

For those who neglect their journal because it's too burdensome or overwhelming to keep up with, you must be doing more than what we could call minimally necessary.

I spoke with someone who said she was in the habit of spending 10 hours to set up her journal. I can't imagine spending that much time setting up something that's supposed to save me time. A minimalist, functional approach to journaling would reduce set up time to well under an hour each week. And who knows, maybe a basic bullet journal approach could spark a reevaluation of what you really need in your journal.

"But, but, I need my journal as a creative outlet". You can designate some pages to do that, and you can do your artistic thing when you have some down time (if you already add a lot of decoration in your journal, guess what: you have down time). Maybe you can set up the functional aspects of your journal at first and leave room for embellishment later - in a less time sensitive moment. If you feel journal stress trying to get it right and get it done, that seems to suck the fun out the journaling experience. Surely there is a less stressful way of doing what you want to do with your journal.

Setting up months in advance is also likely to feel burdensome when you run out of all the stuff you've prepared and have to set up a lot of pages once more. This sounds like unfun to me. I want the payoff of having completed something useful without pressuring myself, and I get that after spending 10 minutes or less setting up my monthly spread during the last couple days each month. My future log or a master list helps me set up each month when it's time to do so. Returning to a basic bullet journal style may be the solution for you.

Lugging around multiple supplies may also sap some of the fun out bullet journaling. If you adopt a style that makes room for that at a certain time, but during the hustle and bustle of the day requires only one pen, that can reduce the burden of maintaining your journal.


I can't stress enough how valuable reflection is. Whether you set up daily, weekly, or monthly, reviewing what you've got in your journal will help keep your mind synchronized with your schedule. From what I've gathered, reflection was intended to be done at the end of the day. That's when I do this. I review the stuff from the daily log and review my schedule for the next day, and set up a quick log for tomorrow. I may also start doing a weekly log at the beginning of the week.

The trick here is not to transfer your mind to paper so you don't have to think; quite the opposite. It's meant to help you think through your schedule and keep it straight in your head. This is especially helpful for scatter-brained people, like me, myself, and I. All three of us appreciate it.

A lot of keeping your journal habit is just finding solutions to problems. Let's do that together with other journalers. What problems keep you from journaling? Comment here, and remember 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…