Bullet Journal Ideas for the Minimalist

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Collage of 3 images spiral notebooks with pens with title text reading Bullet Journals for the Minimalist



I’ve been using bullet journals to plan and organize my life for years. I just didn’t know that they were a thing – bullet journaling. The bullet journals you see on Pinterest are usually very complicated and time-consuming. I’m too busy for complicated. And if you know me at all, you know I’m a simple girl and choose to find the simple way to get things done. Over the years, I’ve found that bullet journal to do lists keep me focused and accomplishing what I need to. I really don’t know how I’d survive without my to do lists. If you’re a simple-is-best or busy person like me, then you’ll find these bullet journal ideas for the minimalist much more useful and less intimidating. 

I find it amusing that something I’ve been doing for years, now is a th-ang. Have you ever had that happen? You’ve been doing something or wearing something for years and then find out that it’s now a big thing? It amuses me when it happens.

Like you, I’m a busy, busy person. While I love to look at those beautiful, complicated and, to be honest, very intimidating bullet journals all over Pinterest, I just don’t have the time to create one myself. It’s like I love to look at haute couture in magazines, but I choose to wear jeans or yoga pants most of the time. 

Let me show you the jeans or yoga pants version of bullet journaling and how it works for me.

Why a bullet journal to do list works:

  • You design it for your personal needs and preferences.
    • This is why we can make a minimalist bullet journal that works just as perfectly as the more complicated ones. 
  • You can adapt it as your needs change.
  • It helps you keep track of what you need to do.
  • Because you easily keep track of tasks, it’s easier to complete them.
  • It’s easy to refer to and check many times through out the day.
  • It becomes a record of information and what you’ve done. 
  • It’s so effective that it quickly becomes a habit. 

Bullet Journal Ideas for the Minimalist

Supplies for a Minimalist Bullet Journal

Journal There are many types of journals available.

  • One of the most popular in the bullet journaling worls is the Leuchtturm journal.
  • I prefer a spiral bound notebook so that I can fold it in half when it’s open. I also like being able to remove pages when I want. 
  • Have you ever tried stone paper? I love the texture of the paper and it’s very strong so it holds up well to bullet journal use. You can find journals with stone paper in all different styles.  
  • Find a journal that makes you happy with a color or design that you like or pages that like. You’ll be spending a lot of time with your bullet journal, so find one that you’ll enjoy working with. And it doesn’t have to be expensive, so don’t get caught up on that. 

Pens or Markers You certainly don’t have to buy fancy pens, but my favorite (and not crazy expensive) pens are these ball point pens that come in pretty colors and write magically smoothly. 

Ruler 

Washi Tape (optional) – I have tons of washi tape and it’s so easy to use.  It’s a quick way to add color and tabs to your bullet journal.  Check out how I organize my washi tape stash for free with repurposed items

spiral notebook, yellow ruler, 3 pens and roll of washi tape on white table

Scissors (optional) – You only need scissors if you’re using washi tape. 

Before we go any farther, you might want to check out my Start Bullet Journaling for $1 tips post. 

Your first page or two will be the bullet journal index. 

  • You’ll number every page in the journal. 
  • Then list each page number on your index
  • Add the page description next to each page number in the index.
  • Set up your index so it works for you. 
    • You don’t have to label every single page if you don’t want to. For example. pages 5 through 18 are my daily To Do pages. I didn’t have to list them all out since they’re labeled sequentially and easy to locate. I had some extra time so I chose to go ahead and list those daily pages...this time.
    • I chose to draw a box around page 1 and 31 since those are the monthly calendars and the beginning of each new section in my mind. 
    • You can use different colored ink or highlighters to make your index work best for you. 
    • Or you can leave your index plain and perfect for the minimalist.
    • Note – this journal does not have vertical guide lines and you can tell by how my dates list to the right on pages 7 through 18. If this would drive you crazy, be sure to look for a journal with grid lines. 
open notebook with columns of numbers  and 2 pens

Start Each Month with a Monthly Calendar (also known as Monthly Spread)

I chose to turn my calendar to the side since my notebook is smaller and the calendar wouldn’t have been as usable if I had created it in portrait orientation. Do what works best for you and how your brain works. 

I ran a strip of washi tape on the edge of each monthly calendar. It acts as a tab to make it easier to find each monthly page in the journal and each new month’s section. This is not necessary since you can always refer to your index page. 

Items to include on your monthly calendar:

  • Holidays
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Days off Work and School
  • Appointments
  • Anything that will help you plan and keep track of the big picture of what you need to do this month. 
open notebook with calendar, pen and yellow highlighter

Daily To Do Lists (also known as Daily Spread)

This section will help you keep you focused each day on what you need to accomplish. Previously, I’d write my daily to do tasks on slips of paper and loose track of them. Instead of a pile of sticky notes and slips of paper, now you’ll write your daily tasks in this section. 

You can make each day take up an entire page of your journal or put two days on the same page. Do what works best for you and your busy (or not so busy) schedule.

close up open spiral notebook with blue pen

I had extra time this month, so I used washi tape to highlight each date. It’s not necessary and I don’t do this step when my schedule is too busy. You could use a different color of ink or a highlighter to underline or box each day if you want. Or-rrrr, you could just take the minimalist route and simple write the date. 

Additional Pages

Add pages that will help you plan and execute your schedule and tasks. I add additional pages to each month’s section and then extras at the back of the journal. 

Collage of 3 images of notebooks with pens

I usually add three additional pages: Notes, Shopping and Errands. These are the pages I use most often. I can always add an additional topic on my Notes page if needed. 

Don’t go crazy adding additional pages. Remember, we’re creating a functional, minimalist bullet journal. Only add the pages that make sense for you and your life. 

Ideas for Additional Bullet Journal Pages

  • Notes
  • Shopping – With 5 people in my family and someone always asking for something from the store, I seemed to often forget to get something. I’m also embarrassed to admit how many times I left the slip of paper shopping list at home. 
  • Errands – I’m usually running errands for all five members of my family. And, again, with so much going on, I found that I often forgot an errand or two. Writing them down also allows me to group errands together and accomplish them more efficiently. 
  • Fitness Tracking
  • Nutrition Tracking
  • Book List 
  • Goals
  • Expenses
  • Gratitude List
  • Birthday and Anniversary List
  • Gift List
  • Cleaning Schedule
  • Car Maintenance 
  • Meal Planner
  • Password Log
  • Bills Due Log
  • Habit Tracker/Water In-take Tracker
  • Savings Goal
  • Key Phone Numbers
  • Chore List
  • Packing Checklist
  • Brainstorming Page
  • Dreaming Page

Using Your Minimalist Bullet Journal

Now that you’ve created your minimalist bullet journal, you don’t want to it to gather dust on your desk. 
Tips for How to Use Your Bullet Journal:

  • Keep it accessible. I carry my bullet journal with me in my purse. When I’m at home, I have it out on my kitchen counter or my desk.
  • Keep a pen with your journal. 
  • Each evening before you go to bed, take a couple of minutes and plan out what you need to accomplish the next day.
  • Each morning check over your To Do List to remind yourself of your tasks for the day.
  • In the beginning you may write too much or too little down in your bullet journal. Play around with it until you find what works for you.
  • Don’t be distracted by how someone else bullet journals. You should always be open to new ideas that will help your bullet journal work best for you. But don’t feel pressured by fancy or extremely complex bullet journals if you are a minimalist kind of person.  
  • Reassess frequently what is and isn’t working for you and make changes to make your bullet journal perfect for your unique personality and situation.
open notebook with 2 pens

How do you feel about bullet journaling? I highly recommend that you give it a try by implementing these bullet journal ideas for the minimalist. You can always go more complex later, but these tips will get you started and functioning well. 

Bullet Journal Ideas and More to Organize Your Schedule and Life:

For more simple and powerful productivity tips, hacks and printables, see the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

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4 Comments

  1. I do a version of bullet journaling in my planner. I have my calendar on the left side page and my “to do” list on the right. I love this approach, it just works for me. Few things are as motivating as seeing those boxes fill in during the course of the day. I also love the ability to flip ahead and schedule a task on a future day. It just gives me peach of mind!

    1. We think so much alike, Seana. I love checking tasks off and I love the convenience of scheduling tasks ahead (and then brain dumping them since I know they’re scheduled).

  2. I like things simple too. It is funny when something you’ve been doing all along suddenly becomes very popular! Those are the same pens I use to color code the things I write in my monthly planner. They do write very nicely and the ink lasts a long time.

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