How to do a simple bullet journal set up with NO drawing

It’s the complaint I see levied at bullet journaling the most

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People saying they’re not arty enough for bullet journaling. Or, that they don’t have time set up everything up.

I’ve been known to say that myself over the years.

However, after dipping my toe back into bullet journaling last year with One Book July, I discovered that it is possible to set up a bujo quickly, and without a load of drawing. Over time I’ve even been able to cut out the drawing altogether.

a6 bullet journal

Also, a side note, if you’re staying true to the core principles of bullet journaling, there actually isn’t really any requirements to draw and spend loads of time setting things up. This is just how the concept has evolved over the years, and isn’t necessary for the system.

After experimenting with a few different layouts and set ups in my A6 LT1917*, I finally have the most efficient bullet journal set up (for me).

First up, is the size of the notebook

To keep things as simple as possible, I like to keep things small.

A6 is the perfect size for me. Anything bigger and I’m trying to fill space for the sake of it, anything smaller, and I’m churning through pages too quickly.

For the past few set ups, I’ve gone with a softcover LT1917*. As this is an EDC that goes in all my bags, I prefer the flexibility of a softcover.

While I’ve used LT1917 pen loops* in the past, I prefer to carry a pen separately now

My companion pouch to this set up is a Hobonichi Drawer Pouch Pocket, which holds my bank cards, medication, sticky notes and a couple of pens.

A6 LT1917

If you want to keep things super simple, I highly recommend either a Kaweco Sport* or Mini Pilot G2* as two pens that fit in the pen loop and are smaller than the A6 Lecuhtturm.

The set up – future log

First up (I don’t use the index) is the future log/monthly view.

Previously, I’d been doing a future log and a monthly calendar. I hated doing that and so this time, I’ve merged the two.

Using blank calendar stickers*, and the planning basics* collection, this took no time at all to set up.

simple bullet journal set up - future log

Once the stickers were down, I simply wrote in the dates on both the calendar and then down the page in two columns. I highlighted the weekends using a Mildliner and then wrote in any plans I had arranged. I used a Zig Dot Colour Marker to highlight any days that had plans and I was done!

There’s not a huge amount of space to write in plans. However, I tend not to have that many plans on the same day, and will shorten things where needed. For example, if someone is visiting, I’ll just write their initials and a dotted line to show when they’re here. I also use a Uni Jetsream on these pages to easily colour code different types of plans.

I use my favourite Midori post its* for any plans not cemented.

Finally, I have extra space in the bottom right hand corner of each page. This is the element I was most concerned about losing by not setting up a ‘proper’ monthly spread. I like to have a space to capture tasks that are needed to be done on a certain month. Examples would be car insurance renewals, or reminders to buy birthday presents etc.

One thing I haven’t added in here (because this isn’t my main planner) is birthdays. If I were to use this as my main planner though, I’d just have a birthday signifier and then pop in the person’s initials, so it doesn’t take up a lot of space.

Habit tracking

Bullet journalers do love a good habit tracker.

simple bullet journal set up - habit tracker

Something that I did in my last bujo that worked really well, was using a page from my habit tracker notepad*. I like having all my regular habits in once place rather than spread across weekly and monthly views, so this was perfect. Because the Leuchtturm is a pocket A6 size, I did have to chop this down slightly as the notepad is true A6. As I only have a few monthly and weekly habits, it worked out fine, though.

I like to have a few tabs on the main pages I use each day, and the Post It tabs* with a little icon sticker on to show which is which, works perfectly. I hate my writing and I hate my writing on a tab even more, so I always use stickers for this!

Weekly/daily set up

This set up is basically the original bullet journal set up. As this is just my every day carry planner though, I’m not writing each day in this time. I’m merely writing the week at the top of the page, adding a little sticker to mark it out (in case of adding more than one week to a page) and then just going straight into it.

No events go in here, as they’re already on the future log. Not all tasks go in here either, just the ones I need to know about when I’m out of the house.

simple bullet journal set up - weekly plan

The main use of this set up most weeks, is for logging of things that need transferring into my main planner. If I make a plan while out, I’ll write it in this weekly log and then transfer it to the future log in here and my main planner at the same time.

This will also serve as location for useful notes that don’t necessarily have a home elsewhere. An update on a complaint I’ve made, or a dispatch notification for an order will go in here.

Each evening I simply sit down with this, transfer out any notes and plans that I need to, and add in any tasks for the following day that I need to know about on the next empty line on the page.

While I have a slightly more niche use for this, the concept will work even if this is your main planner. I may find over time I want to start writing in the date each day, but for now it feels unnecessary and would take up space it doesn’t need to.


Because of its small size and convenience, I do like using my A6 bujo for a few collections. These are all marked with Coco Fusen tabs*. I also try and keep collections together, so if I’ve started one on the left hand page, I’ll leave the right hand page blank for another one. This is just so the weeklies and collections don’t feel too mixed up.

The main one I have is a ‘to buy’ list, as it’s handy to have when out and about.

simple bullet journal set up - collections

Others I’ve just added in not because I need them when out, but more that I seem to think of things for these while I’m out. The main example being my master to do list/brain dump. The smaller pages also lend themselves to little lists that if I were to put them in my Cousin (where I use the dailies as a commonplace book) they would take up a very small amount of space and feel like a waste of a page.

That was my simple, drawing free bullet journal set up

I’ve been in this a few weeks now and absolutely love it. Do you have a similar set up, let me know in the comments below!