How To Bullet Journal When You Don’t Have The Time

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Hello Planning Mashers!

I’ve been asking a lot of people about their biggest struggles with the Bullet Journal system, and a lot of people said it’s time. They don’t have time to create spreads and use the system, or maybe they’re afraid to even start because they’re already way too busy.

Does this sound familiar?

Then read on! I have a strategy on how you can accomplish all you have to, and let Bullet Journal help you out!

Bullet Journal pages we see all over Instagram and Pinterest often look like works of art, that probably took hours to complete. This created the idea that Bullet Journaling is something not suitable for busy people.

Even if you just decide to go for a simplistic format, there’s still the issue that with Bullet Journal, you also have to spend time setting up every page yourself vs the pre-made planners.

The truth is Bullet Journal can take as much time as you want to give it. The idea that it has to take hours is just another misconception.

You can spend hours drawing all the spreads, or you can spend 10 min and have all your pages done. The choice is yours!

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Will You Have Time For BuJo?

Yes, you will! How do I know? There are lots of people who are using the Bullet Journal system even at their busiest times. I’m definitely one of them!

I work as a freelancer, which means not only having weird working hours, but I also have to always hustle to find more work. Plus, I work on this blog trying to post twice-three times a week.

And finally, I also study online to up my working skills, I try to go to the gym several times a week, and of course, I now have a young puppy to raise.

I find time to do all this not despite but thanks to my Bullet Journal. I don’t need to find time for my planner, because it actually helps me to make time.

How To Organize Collections In Your Bullet Journal (+ 50 Page Ideas) | Masha Plans

Now, let me be honest – I don’t always use my planner, sometimes I skip days, and sometimes I switch to just a running task list format. But that’s ok. Like with everything else, nobody can be 100% all the time! Your Bullet Journal should be a tool, not homework. 

There are many techniques and tricks you can use to make sure your planner setup takes a minimal amount of time. Read on to learn how you can cut your setup time and keep planning in your busiest time.

Plan During Breaks

The key to finding time to set up your Bullet Journal is to make time for planning. I know it’s easier said than done, but if you get a bit creative it gets much easier.

The secret here is to plan when you have time. Lunch break at work, evening TV time with the family, while your kids are doing their homework.

You don’t have to plan it all in one sitting; take little planning breaks throughout your week to finish your setups.

Now that I have a little pup I usually plan during his naps. This actually made me so much more productive – I know now I have a very limited amount of time so I get much more concentrated.

Switch To Minimalist Design

As I said, the easiest way to cut time on your setups is to make the designs as simple as possible. Minimalist Bullet Journals are super popular among the community. They look extremely classy and are so much easier to set up since there is no need for elaborate drawings.

All you need for these setups is a black pen. You can even just draw basic outlines of your spreads and add any accents and patterns later if you wish. Just check these 31+ minimalist weekly spreads or these 51+ Minimalist Bullet Journal Page Ideas and you’ll see that Bullet Journaling can take just a few minutes a day.

Looking for some minimalist creators to get inspired? Check these amazing bullet journalists: 


Stina is amazing, and her Bullet Journal pages have been some of my favorites for a long time. She uses geometrical shapes to decorate her pages, and the patterns look absolutely stunning. 

I honestly am so in love with her every page and how straight and perfect the lines look! Definitely have journal envy here.


Gigi’s journal looks amazing and she uses it in so many ways – to organize her freelance work and her wedding. She has lots of inspiration for any type of page, and her minimal designs are always pretty and practical.

I love this spread for example – just a few lines and a little splash of color and you get such a beautiful and well-organized.


Claire has an amazing and very practical journal. Her account doesn’t only have inspirations for all sorts of pages, she also shares Bullet Journal tips and trips, as well as motivation to keep on going and building a better life for yourself.

I really like that on the page below, she uses stamps for the dates and the header. I think it really adds up to the page style.

How To Bullet Journal When You Don't Have Time, spread by @minimal.plan | Masha Plans
Credit: @minimal.plan


Julia has a super clean feed, and her minimalist Bullet Journal spreads are to die for! She posts almost every day so if you need a constant inspiration source – this is probably the best.

I wonder how she creates these beautiful letters you can see on pretty much all her pages. They look absolutely stunning.


This gorgeous Bullet Journal is clean and practical, and all she uses are a notebook and a black pen. Just another proof that you don’t need any special supplies to create stunning spreads.

The best decoration of her Bullet Journal pages is the handwriting – it’s so beautiful!

If you’re looking to work on your handwriting, be sure to check my post 9 Simple Tricks To Improve Your Handwriting.


Trine has amazing minimalist Bullet Journal spreads, but she also DIY her own journals. How impressive is this?!

I don’t usually use Index in my journals, but looking at this perfect little page makes me really want to stop being lazy and add one.

How To Bullet Journal When You Don't Have Time, spread by @logthatlife | Masha Plans
Credit: @logthatlife

Get Rid Of Unnecessary Pages

When I started my Bullet Journal, I had all the pages, not just the basic ones. I had a beauty tracker, mood tracker, time tracker, the lunar calendar, and a bunch of collections. All at the same time.

As you might’ve guessed setting up my month became super time-consuming. If you’re busy, just cut off all the pages you don’t need! I personally cut down a lot, and it was really a game-changer for me.

31 Fun and Simple Bullet Journal Page Ideas, Things That Make Me Happy Spread | Masha Plans

Bullet Journal offers a lot of possibilities and many interesting pages that can be beneficial for you. Being busy doesn’t mean you won’t be able to use these.

All you need is first to decide what is the main goal for your Bullet Journal. Is it time management? Is it self-development? Make sure you get your priorities straight. Remember with the limited time, you have to prioritize the important pages.

The second thing you can do is to try different spreads one at a time. Don’t use them all in one month; this will be too hard on your schedule, even if you have all the time in the world.

Try one new spread per month, or maybe for just a week (for example time tracker practice is definitely enough for just one week).

Use Stationery To Help You

The right stationery is probably the biggest time savior. With the right chosen supplies you can cut your planning time in half.

I have a separate detailed post with 11 supplies under 10$ that can hack your Bullet Journal. Here I’ll just give some general ideas.


Stickers (definitely check some awesome options on Etsy) help you decorate your pages if you don’t have time to draw, and set up some annoying repetitive things like calendars.

My latest obsession has been printable stickers, which are so much cheaper and I can use them over and over again. 

I actually opened my own little shop with printable stickers and more. You can get there both decorative and functional stickers that will make your setups faster but still looking cute.

Printable FUnctional Stickers | Masha Plans


Stencils can also help you draw and set up easily your monthly spreads, such as monthly log and habit tracker (I mean this amazing Bullet Journal essential stencil set).

There are also decorative stencils and lettering stencils that can help you bring your pages’ look to a new level. There are tons of awesome choices on Amazon.

One of my favorite stencil shops is MoxieDori. They have awesome and very original stencils for all types of Bullet Journal needs. And it also feels nice to support small businesses.

If you want to see some of their stencils in action, check my post How To Draw Mandalas – I’m using their mandala stencils which are so helpful.


Finally, you can also use stamps for all of the functions I mentioned above. If you’re not sure stamps are your jam, check my post How To Use Stamps In Your Bullet Journal.

Use Printables

There is an incredible amount of free and paid printables available. You can start by joining Planning Mashers and getting access to TONS of free printables in our Resources Vault. Just sign up in the form at the end of the post.

I also create printables for my Patreon family, including weekly spreads, doodling tutorials, and complete monthly setups. Be sure to drop by, show your support and get some awesome printables for your Bullet Journal.

Patreon Rewards - stickers, monthly setup and more | Masha Plans

If you don’t feel like getting a  subscription to my Patreon, you can also get tons of printables in my shop. From complete monthly setups, so bundles of useful pages, like 12 months of mood trackers, sleep tracker bundle, and more.

Something I found I mostly struggle with when I don’t have the time is creating weekly spreads, so to help you with that, I also created a weekly spread printable bundle in my shop. 

With 7 different designs, you’ll always have a weekly spread to plan, no matter how busy you’ll get.

7 Printable Bullet Journal Weekly Spreads Bundle | Masha Plans

For even more printables, be sure to check out my post with 50+ Free Bullet Journal Printables from me and tons of other creators all over the Internet.

Follow A “Plan With Me”

Another easy way to speed up your planning process is to follow a plan with me video. These videos already give you a thought-through setup with exact step-by-step instructions and certain themes.

If you don’t mind copying somebody else’s spreads, just dive in and do it. You won’t need to look for ideas or things on how to do the setup, and this will definitely speed up the process.

I’d be super happy to see you join us on YouTube, so make sure to give a look at my channel and check out my monthly Plan With Me videos.

As an example below is my 2021 Bullet Journal Setup video.

Use A Simplified Journal

If you don’t have time at all but still want a Bullet Journal – try some simplified journals. It’s actually a mix between a Bullet Journal and a pre-made planner. These journals take away the time you need to spend on setting up your monthly spreads, but leave enough space for you to explore and get the best from the Bullet Journal planning system.

My go-to option would be Archer and Olive and Amy Tangerine planner (check my detailed review). 

For 2021 Amy Tangerine and Archer and Olive released an undated planner that is absolutely perfect to work as a simplified journal. It has all the monthly and weekly spreads ready and tons of dot grid paper pages to play around with other pages you might need.

If you decide to get one, be sure to use code MASHA10 that will get you 10% off your order for this planner and everything else at Archer and Olive.

Archer & Olive / Amy Tangerine 2021 Planner | Masha Plans

One of the other options is Scribbles That Matter Bullet Planner.

It already has these pages made: key, year at a glance, yearly statistics tracker, monthly log, monthly habit tracker, two types of weekly spreads, password page, and mindfulness page. With all these pages, it also has enough space to customize it the way you wish. 

Another option would be a Clever Fox Planner. The pages they already have pre-made are: gratitude and self-awareness page, daily rituals page, vision board, yearly goals and focus, mind map, monthly calendar, and weekly spreads with weekly habit trackers.

The rest 60 pages of the journal are empty dotted pages for you to fill out at will. I’d say this journal is a bit less customizable than the Scribbles That Matter Bullet Planner, but it’s still a good option. 

These are the little tricks you can use to find the time and keep Bullet Journaling.

I think the most important question here is whether you want to have a Bullet Journal. Think about what it brings to you and whether it’s really something you want to do. If it is – great! I believe with all these hacks, you’ll be able to find the time, disregarding how busy your life is.

Oh and I know I promised you access to tons of free Bullet Journal printables, so here it is. Sign up in the form below, and once you confirm your subscription you’ll get the secret word to get your access.

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    What other tricks do you use to do time for Bullet Journaling? I’d love to see your ideas in the comments section.

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    And remember: Keep Bullet Journaling, and Don’t Be a Blob!

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      1. Hey! There are actually quite a few posts on Bullet Journaling for school on the blog already. If you just search “school” on the blog you’ll see all the posts on the topic.

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