Setting up a bullet journal can be daunting — all the time commitments, maintaining a routine, the fancy designs — it all adds up.

(Trust me, I’ve set up over 600 spreads.)

But there’s good news:

Since 2016, I’ve been developing a tool to make that setup process easier, so you can be more efficient and take the stress out of journaling.

Now you might be wondering:

What’s this tool called?

Let me introduce you to The Door Hanger Extreme.

It’s a universal measurement tool you slip into your journal to divide any A5 journal pages however you want. No more counting dots. No more hassle.

In this simple guide, I’m going to walk you through step-by-step how to use the Extreme like a pro.

Just imagine if you never had to count or calculate anything ever again.

How would that make you feel? Keep reading to find out. 🙌

Too Busy to Read?

Download the How-To Guide summary.

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Part 1

Introducing the Extreme

Journaling doesn’t have to be difficult.

In Part 1, were going to reveal why the Door Hanger Extreme will make your life easier and transform the way you journal.

You’ll also learn what the tool is and what you can do with it.

Are you ready? Let’s get started… 🚀

The Challenges We Face As Bullet Journalers

For a long time, there has been one main drawback of bullet journaling:

Creating new layouts in advance.

Who has time for that? What if you mess up?

To make matters worse, the original Bullet Journal method doesn’t offer us much help — the system is based on simple efficiency and bullets.

And not much thought goes into setting up each day, week or month.

But the reality is, the bullet journal world is now filled with complex and nonstandard spread designs.

So where are YOU supposed to start?

The answer:

You need to plan as you go.

Find out what schedule works best for you and just make spreads on your own time.

(You’ll often hear this referred to as the “you do you” mantra.)

And that’s where the Door Hanger Extreme comes into play — you can split up your pages into equal sections instantly.

It doesn’t matter what the real-world throws at you in a given week or month.

You now have the power to adapt and let your creativity rain when the time is right.

Now let’s meet the tool that will make this happen.

PRO TIP: Get started with over 100 free layouts in the VIP Vault.

Q. What if I miss a day or two? Is that a problem?

Not at all!

If you remember what you did the previous days, just go ahead and fill in your day boxes or tracker boxes whenever you get time to journal.

Q. Do my time spreads, like weeklies, need to be in consecutive order? Or chronological order?

You don’t need to create your time spreads on consecutive pages, but they should be in chronological order.

That way you can stay organized but still give yourself the flexibility to add theme spreads in between.

Learn more in Part 2 of the Setup Guide.

What Is the Door Hanger Extreme?

The Door Hanger Extreme is a journaling measurement tool that lets you create any spread layout in half the time.

It’s an actual 4.25″ x 11″ door hanger that you use together with your notebook to divide your spreads into as many sections as you need.

It follows a section-based logic — meaning you first decide how many sections you want your layouts to be, then you use the tool to measure and draw precise grid lines.

The measurement guides on the front side help you split your pages horizontally into columns. While the guides on the back side split your pages vertically into rows.

The best part:

It works flawlessly in any A5 size notebook — ones with 26 squares across and 38 squares down each page.

Q. Can I really use it with any A5 journal?
Absolutely.

It’s guaranteed to work with the:

* These are all affiliate links

Q. How many dots are on a 26 x 38 square journal page?

27 across and 39 down.

Just add +1 to the square count.

Q. What do I put in each of my page sections?

Great question.

Use my free Weekly Spread Elements Tool for ideas on how to fill up your single boxes or any blank spaces.

What Can I Do With It?

The Door Hanger Extreme performs multiple tasks.

You can (and should) use it as a:

  • Quick Calculator — use the visual guides to quickly count grid squares vertically and horizontally along your journal pages.
  • Section Builder — use the colored-line guide system to divide your pages into equal-sized sections.
  • Straight Edge Ruler — the Extreme ships in 2-packs, so you can use one as a tool for measuring and use the other as a ruler.
  • Transfer Pre-Made Spreads to Your Own JournalMy free spreads have numbers around the border marking the square count. All you need to do is align them with the Extreme for easy transfer.

Ok. Well done.

Now that we know our options, let’s get to know our tool a little bit better…

Q. What material is it made out of?

The Extreme is made out of premium 16 pt. card stock with two-sided colored gloss that is water-repellent.

Learn more on the FAQ page.

Extreme Terminology

Before we get started, there are a few terms printed on the Extreme that you should be familiar with.

Keep these in mind as we move forward:

  • Front Side — this simply refers to the front-facing side — with the “Create Today” message” — that you’ll use as a horizontal measurement tool to create equal-sized columns.
  • Back Side — refers to the back of the Extreme — with the key and social media icons — that you’ll use as a vertical measurement tool to create equal-sized rows.
  • “Split On Dots” — the left and right column heading that refers to splitting your page into equal sections with leftover space for a header or border areas.
  • “Split Exact” — the middle column heading that refers to splitting your page into equal sections with no leftover space (i.e. you use the entire area of your page).
  • “Mid” — refers to the horizontal and vertical centers of your page.

Don’t worry:

All this will make much more sense when we dive into our examples, but keep these terms in mind as we move forward.

PRO TIP: Learn more basic bullet journaling terms in the Setup Guide.

Q. What’s the difference between Split Exact & Split on Dots?

Here’s the difference:

Split Exact

  • Splits your page into equal sections with NO leftover space.
  • Lines will probably NOT stay directly on the dots of your page.
  • Always a solid dot design on the Extreme.
  • Located in the middle column of the Extreme.

Split On Dots

  • Splits your pages into equal sections with leftover space for a header or border areas.
  • Lines will ALWAYS line up with the dots on your page.
  • Always an open dot design on the Extreme.
  • Located on the outer columns of the Extreme.

Elements of the Extreme

Now that we got our basic terms down, let’s talk about features.

The front side — used to create columns — has a horizontal square counter, ranging from 1 to 26.

And the back side — used to make rows — has a vertical square counter, ranging from 1 to 38.

These are the dimensions of your A5 notebook: 26 x 38 squares.

Front side

Back side

Columns

Both the front and back sides of the Extreme are separated into 3 columns with a colored-line guide system that shows you where to draw your lines.

The outside columns are labeled “Split On Dots” and the lone inner column is labeled “Split Exact”.

You use the “Split On Dots” outer columns to divide your layouts into equal sections with leftover space.

And you’ll use the “Split Exact” inner column when you want your equal sections to take up all squares on your page.

(More on this in a bit.)

Key Elements

You’ll notice on the back side there is a small key.

Let’s touch on these elements for a second:

  • Section Boxes — these boxes are located directly under the column headings and contain numbers representing your desired amount of sections (columns and rows).
  • Start & End Bars — these thick colored bars represent the start & end points of your layout design. Or you can think of it as the outer border.
  • Space Between Dots — these smaller boxes contain numbers that quickly tell you how many squares to expect between your dot line guides.
  • Circle Guides — these are the colored circles that tell you exactly where to draw your lines. You can’t miss them. 😉
  • Leftover Spaces Circle — these are located over grey bars. These bars indicate leftover space you can use for headers and other building block elements.
  • Start & End Arrows — these multicolored, bold arrows align with the first dot on your page and are your starting and end points for any design.

Key Elements of the Door Hanger Extreme

Phew. Got all that?

That was the hard part, but now let the fun begin!

We’re about to put your Extreme to work.

Open up your journal and follow along…

PRO TIP: Refer to the small key at the bottom of the back side of the Extreme for future reference.

Q. Where can I find details on pricing and shipping?

The FAQ page has all the answers.

Q. Do I need to buy an Extreme before I can move on to the next section?

Nope.

Just keep your journal open and refer to the pictures in this guide as you follow along.

If you want to get your hands on an Extreme immediately, get the digital version.

Part 3

How to Use the Extreme (The Basics)

It’s time to learn the basics.

Part 3 is all about putting your Extreme to work.

Specifically, we’re going to learn how to make a simple 2 x 2 grid layout.

Sound good?

Let’s dive in…

2 Starter Questions Before Using

Begin by asking yourself these 2 starter questions:

1. How many equal-sized sections do I want on one page?

Think of the main purpose of your spread.

For example, maybe you want a simple to-do list with a section for each day of the week (1 x 7) or maybe you want a full monthly calendar. Then ask yourself…

2. Do I want my lines to fall exactly on the dots (“Split on Dots”) with extra space, or would I rather the spread fill up the entire page (“Split Exact”) with no extra space?

If you want extra space for headers or borders, then you want to use the outside columns as your measurement guides, labeled “Split On Dots”.

If you don’t want extra space — therefore you’re using the entire area of the page for your equal sections — then you want to use the middle column, labeled “Split Exact”.

Now let’s walk through a very simple example:

Let’s say I want a 2 x 2 grid — 2 sections wide by 2 tall — for a total of 4 sections.

And I DO want my lines to be drawn over the dots.

Sound good?

Let’s start with the front side.

Front Side

The front side of the Extreme is your horizontal ruler that you’ll use to make columns.

You simply turn it on its side and line up the colored circles with the bottom or top of either page.

The most important thing:

Make sure the bottom Start Arrow points to the dot closest to the spine of your notebook.

In our example, we want 2 columns.

Here’s how you do it on the right page of your A5:

  1. With the front side facing up, turn the Extreme 90 degrees so that the right side is facing towards you and slide it under the page (the handle hole should be sticking out).
  2.  Push the bottom of the Extreme snug against the spine of your journal and line up the first dot from the spine with the large Start Arrow on the bottom of the Extreme.
  3. The End Arrow should line up with the very last dot (far-right) on your page.
  4. We want to draw our lines exactly on the dots, so we’re looking at one of the “Split On Dots” columns. So line up the Extreme so that column’s colored arrows are visible.
  5. Now, look at the Section Boxes right under the column headings. We want the number “2” since we want two column sections. Note that the color is red.
  6. With the bottom Start Arrow still aligned with the first dot, align the edge of your page with the red “2” column.
  7. Look for the red circle and mark the closest dot on the page with pencil — this marks the spot where you’ll draw your vertical line on the dots to create exactly two columns.
  8. Now draw your full vertical line with a pencil to create two columns. Use the Extreme as a straight-edge.

Don’t worry if this seems like a lot right now.

You’ll get the hang of it in no time. ✋

Ok, that’s it for our columns.

Now to the back side…

DIY: If the Start Arrow does not line up with the first dot from your notebook spine, trim the bottom of the Extreme with sharp scissors — cut ½ centimeter or more to make sure the tool lines up perfectly.

Q. How many columns does the Extreme support?

If you want extra space and your lines to fall exactly on the dots (“Split on Dots”), you can choose between 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, or 13.

You’ll see that 7,8 AND 9-13 are grouped together. Your leftover space will vary depending on how many columns you draw.

If you want no extra space (“Split Exact”), you can choose between 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Q. Do I need to use a pencil?

I definitely recommend it before you commit to pen — that way you can erase any mistakes.

Back Side

The back side of the Extreme is your vertical ruler that you’ll use to make rows.

You simply flip it over and line up the colored circles with the sides of either page.

The most important thing:

Make sure the bottom Start Arrow points to the bottom dot on the page.

In our example, we want 2 rows.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. With the back side facing up, stand the Extreme upright and slide it under the page (the handle hole should be up top).
  2. Line up the first dot from the bottom of the page with the large Start Arrow on the bottom of the Extreme.
  3. Again, we want to draw our lines exactly on the dots, so we are going to look at the “Split On Dots” column. So line up the Extreme so that column’s colored arrows are visible.
  4. Now, look at the Section Boxes right under the column headings. We want the number “2” again since we want only two rows. Note the color. It’s our lucky red.
  5. With the bottom Start Arrow still aligned with the first dot, align the right edge of your page with the red “2” column.
  6. Find the red circle and mark the closest dot on the page with pencil — this marks the spot where you’ll draw your horizontal line to create exactly two rows.
  7. Finally, draw your horizontal line across the width of the page (on the dots) to make two equal-sized rows. Use the Extreme as a straight-edge.

You starting to feel it yet?

Just make sure to use the correct side of the Extreme when you’re making columns or rows.

Then look for the Section Box with the number of sections you want and line up the colored circles with the dots on your journal page.

You got this.

But it gets better:

I’m going to walk you through common use cases with your bullet journal.

Q. How many rows does the Extreme support?

If you want extra space and your lines to fall exactly on the dots (“Split on Dots”), you can choose between 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9.

If you want no extra space (“Split Exact”), you can choose between 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8.

Part 4

How to Make a Weekly Spread (+ Examples)

In Part 4, we’re putting on our design hats and getting a little fancier.

Specifically, you’ll learn to make:

  • A Weekly Spread — a 3 x 3 time spread with 9 sections on one page.

This will give us the perfect amount of space for our 7 day boxes and some extra goodies.

(I just love me some Weeklies! 🤓)

But first, here are some quick design pointers before making your spreads:

3 Questions Before Choosing Your Design

Whenever I’m creating a layout, I always think big picture first.

And you should too.

So here are 3 starter questions:

1. Should I create a 1-page design or a full 2-page spread?

How busy am I this week? Will I even have time to fill in my spread?

2. What is the spread’s main purpose?

Do I just want a simple list of to-do’s? Do I just want to see things at a glance, or do I want something more complex?

3. Do I want extra space for headers and other fun stuff? Or do I want my equal sections to take up the full page?

This will determine whether or not you draw your lines directly over your page dots when using the Extreme.

It’s just helpful to think about the answers to these questions.

That way you can accurately conceptualize what your design should look like (and if it’s worth the effort).

Now let’s get back to the action.

FOCUS: Make sure you already read the Basics section above for more detail.

How to Set up a Weekly Spread With the Extreme

I made my mark in the bullet journal community early because I would create different weekly spreads every week.

Then shared the spread measurements with my audience (all for free).

Needless to say, this was a huge hit with my audience since they didn’t have to do a ton of counting and there was no pressure to get everything right.

But I knew I needed a tool to make my weekly process quicker. That’s why I created the Extreme.
For me and for you.

Now let’s have some fun and create a weekly spread.

Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar:

You’re having a busy week and you don’t know how much time you’ll have to journal.

You’d also like to keep your weekly spread all on one page so you can see everything at a glance. Not to mention, there’s no way you have time to make a full spread.

So what type of layout should you make? How many sections should you have?

To answer that, let’s revisit our 3 starter questions:

  1. You’re going to create one page since you’re slammed this week.
  2. The main purpose is listing your weekly to-do’s and seeing all of them at a glance.
  3. And let’s say you want your sections to take up the entire page (no extra space) and you don’t care whether my lines are on the dots or not — so now you know you’ll be using the “Split Exact” column on both sides of the Extreme.

Sound good so far?

Since it’s a weekly, we know we need at least 7 sections for the 7 days of the week.

But let’s not stop there:

Let’s give ourselves some wiggle room and add 2 more sections — for fun things, like a Next Week section and a header — for a grand total of 9 equal sections.

That’s a simple 3 x 3 grid.

How to Draw 3 Weekly Columns

Question for you:

What side of the Extreme do we use to create columns?

That’s right. The Front Side. 👏

Here’s how we draw 3 columns on the left page of your A5:

  1. With the front side facing up, turn the Extreme 90 degrees so that the left side is facing towards you and slide it under the left page (the handle hole should be sticking out).
  2. Push the bottom of the Extreme snug against the spine of your journal and line up the first dot from the spine with the bold Start Arrow on the bottom of the Extreme. The End Arrow should line up with the very last dot (far-left) on your page.
  1. Since we don’t care if our lines are not exactly on the dots, we are going to look at the inner “Split Exact” column. So line up the Extreme so that column’s colored arrows are visible.
  2. Now, look at the Section Boxes right under the column headings. We want the number “3” since we want three columns. Note that the color is yellow.
  3. With the bottom Start Arrow still aligned with the first dot, align the edge of your page with the yellow “3” column.
  4. Look for the yellow circles and mark the closest dot on the page with pencil — this marks the spot where you’ll draw your vertical lines to make exactly three columns.
  5. With a pencil, draw your horizontal lines the full height of the page to create three columns. Use the Extreme as a straight-edge.

Way to go!

Now to our rows…

How to Draw 3 Weekly Rows

In our weekly, we want 3 rows.

For that, we need the back side of the Extreme.

Here’s how we make our rows:

  1. With the back side facing up, stand the Extreme upright and slide it under the page (the handle hole should be up top).
  2.  Line up the bold Start Arrow on the bottom of the Extreme with the first row of dots on the bottom of the page.
  3. Again, since we don’t care about drawing on the dots, we are going to look at the “Split Exact” column. So line up the Extreme so that column’s colored arrows are visible.
  1. Now, look at the Section Boxes located under the column headings. We want the number “3” again since we want three rows. Notice the yellow color again.
  2. With the bottom Start Arrow still aligned with the first row of dots, align the left edge of your page with the yellow “3” column.
  3. Find the two yellow circles and mark the closest dot on the page with pencil — this marks the spot where you’ll draw your horizontal lines to create three rows.
  4. Then just draw your horizontal lines across the width of the page to make three equal-sized rows. Use the Extreme as a straight-edge.

Pat yourself on the back. You did it!

Once you’re happy with your pencil guides, go over them in pen and add any day box headings or other single box ideas.

Now refill that coffee. We got the second most popular spread up…

Part 5

How to Make a Monthly Spread (+ Examples)

We’ve come to the final part of our guide.

And you guessed it — we’re stepping up our design game one last time.

So what are we making?

  • A Full Monthly Spread — a 5 x 7 time spread with 35 sections on one page.

You’re going to love this calendar layout.

(I also have a bonus 40 section layout for you, but we’ll get to that later. 🎉)

How to Set up a Monthly Spread With the Extreme

I pretty much always include a calendar in my bullet journal monthly spreads.

And the Extreme makes drawing a perfectly spaced calendar SUPER easy.

Let’s make a sideways monthly spread calendar together… all on one page.

I’m going to walk you through a quick example: a 5 x 7 grid layout.

But we’re going to add a new twist here:

And add extra space for our day names and monthly header.

For that, we need…

Leftover Spaces Circles

Leftover Spaces Circles are the white circles with numbers that indicate how many squares you have leftover after you make your equal-size sections.

They are only in the “Split on Dots” columns and you can find them quickly by looking for the grey bars.

In our 5 x 7 monthly we’re going to reserve leftover space to the left of our columns (so we can add day names) AND on top of our rows (so we can include a header).

Follow along and it will make much more sense…

PRO TIP: I suggest keeping your leftover space around the outside of your book. Space near the binding of the book distracts the eyes and awkwardly splits up your layout.

How to Draw 5 Monthly Columns

For this calendar, we want 5 columns for each week.

And we want extra space for our day names to the left.

Here’s how to make a full page calendar on the right page:

  1. With the front side facing up, turn the Extreme 90 degrees so that the right side is facing towards you and slide it under the page (the handle hole should be sticking out).
  2. Push the bottom of the Extreme snug against the spine of your journal and line up the first dot from the spine with the large Start Arrow on the bottom of the Extreme.
  3. Make sure the End Arrow lines up with the very last dot (far-right) on your page.
  1. Look at the top “Split On Dots” column and line it up with the top of the page so the column’s colored arrows are visible.
  2. Now look at the Section Boxes (right under the “Split On Dots” heading). We want the number “5” since we want five columns. Note that the color is green.
  3. With the bottom Start Arrow still aligned with the first dot, align the top of your page with the green “5” column.
  4. Now look for the green circles along the green column and make a mark on the page next to each of the 4 circles — this is where you’ll draw your vertical lines to make five columns.
  5. Now find the Start Bar — the green bold bar with the #1 to the left of it — and make a mark on the page as well.
  6. And finally, make a mark where the Start Arrow meets the page — this will be the far-left boundary of your layout.
  7. Now draw your full vertical lines from ALL of your marks to make your five columns and the leftover one square column on the left. Use the Extreme as a straight-edge.

Columns done. Good job.

Time to finish our monthly layout with rows…

How to Draw 7 Monthly Rows

For this calendar, we need 7 equal rows (for each of the 7 days).

We also want extra space at the top for a header.

To do that, we’re going to stick with our “Split On Dots” columns and flip the Extreme over to the back side.

Here are the steps:

  1. With the back side facing up, hold the Extreme upright and slide it under the page (the handle hole should be up top).
  2.  Line up the bottom row of dots on the page with the large Start Arrow on the bottom of the Extreme.
  3. We want to draw our lines exactly on the dots, so we are looking at the “Split On Dots” column. So line up the Extreme so that column’s colored arrows are visible.
  1. Now, look at the Section Boxes under the “Split On Dots” heading. We want the number “7” since we want seven rows. So that’s going to be the orange color.
  2. With the bottom Start Arrow still aligned with the first row of dots, align the right of your page with the orange “7” column.
  3. Now look for the orange circles along the orange column and make a mark on the page next to each of the 6 circles — this is where you’ll draw your horizontal lines to make seven rows.
  4. Now find the Start Bar — the orange bold bar with the #3 on top of it — and make a mark on the page as well.
  5. And finally, make a mark where the Start Arrow meets the page — this will be the top boundary of your layout.
  6. Now draw horizontal lines from ALL of your marks (to the spine of your notebook) to make your seven rows and the leftover top header section — which should be 3 squares tall. Use the Extreme as a straight-edge.

Your monthly spread is done!

Remember, just go over any pencil outlines with a pen once you’re comfortable with your design (and erase any unnecessary pencil marks).

BONUS

Bonus Resources

You are now a Door Hanger Extreme expert!

But this is just the beginning:

To make your journaling even easier, I’ve compiled a list of my absolute favorite resources.

Everything from monthly bundles with pre-made measurement files to a free idea generation tool.

Please enjoy.

Just so ya know, some links in this post may be affiliate links — meaning I get a tiny percentage if you click through and buy, but that’s ALL put back into the blog and giveaways. 😁

Free Tools

Get started with these design tools tools to help you design your key page:

  • Elements Tool — an idea generation tool to help you discover different elements to add to your spread designs.
  • VIP Vault — Visit the Free Spread Shop and sign up for the VIP Vault. It’s free and you get acccess to over 100 spreads for life.
  • Page-Split Tool —  a free PDF tool to split up your A5 journal pages to help you create your four “Mother Sections” — it’s simple and uses whole number increments.
  • Journal Companion Tool — another free PDF tool to split up your A5 journal pages, that’s a little more precise — it uses decimal increments.
  • Extreme How-To Guide — Grab the free PDF guide for this post so you can save it for reference.

Paid Tools

Start here with these tools to help you design your key page:

  • Door Hanger Extreme — the physical 2-pack delivered to your door in a custom-lettered envelope.
  • Door Hanger Extreme Digital — the digital version of the Extreme you print yourself at home. No shipping fees. No wait time.
  • Monthly Bundles — digital collections of weekly spreads + a monthly for each month, complete with measurement files and PDF extras.
  • 2020 Monthly Bundle — the 2020 bundle of all 12 monthly spreads plus a mini-calendar printable. Great if you’re looking for monthly inspiration.

And here are my specific courses and pages you might like:

  • Letter My Journal Course — my new course that will teach you how to write those pretty letters and headers in your journal. 🔥
  • Journal You Course — my flagship course on how to become a better journaler and a more productive person. 🔥
  • The Shop — all the tools you need to split up and design your layouts with ease. They’re worth every penny.

Share Your Feedback

Are you ready to start using the Extreme?

What do you like most about it?

Do you have any questions?

There are a lot of colors and lines going on, so ask any questions in the comments below. 👇

And don’t forget:

If you want a quick copy of this post, download the free How-To Guide.

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