Chalkboard and Bullets: Dawn’s Time Management for Mompreneurs

Everyone can benefit from taking a peek into Dawn’s system of time management for mompreneurs! After being disappointed with toy options for her own two daughters, Dawn successfully launched the first line of female action figures as a Co-Founder of IAmElemental (voted one of the 25 Best Inventions of 2014 by TIME magazine). Here is how she still remains organized even as she works on a new project as the founder of VONK.

Describe your current time management system: its components, how it works, and how it came to be.

I use two systems to keep organized: A chalkboard and a Bullet Journal.

analog time managementThe blackboard is a full wall in my kitchen and is a combo of chalkboard paint and magnetic paint. Every Sunday or Monday morning, I write out where the girls will be, if there are any evening or early morning events, any birthday parties, playdates or special things at school. If Phil [Dawn’s husband] is traveling, I write that down,If we have any invitations or anything specific to a day, I clip the paper to that day. If I am out at a work thing any night during the week, I note that as well – so I know if I need to arrange for a sitter.The colors don’t really mean anything – except I usually put stuff I need to remember in red. But I guess somebody could get way more color coded about it.

time management for mompreneurs
Dawn’s chalkboard

Bullet Journal: The easiest way to learn about this system is to watch this video. I really like this note-taking and list system because it allows me to keep all my notes in one spot, so I know where things are. After a meeting, I can easily list action items on my to-do list. I write a to-do list each month and every day. At least once a week, I review everything for the current month. Then at the beginning of a new month, I migrate the outstanding items. I find that very satisfying and also sometimes frustrating as things linger – but occasionally they just need to linger until I have the time or energy to deal. I also use the Index feature – meaning I keep track of things like Gift Ideas or Books to read on a certain page and then make a note of relevant and frequently referenced pages in the Index at the front. During the holidays it was great and very helpful.

time management for mompreneurs
Dawn’s bullet journal

Why does this system work for you given your life now? In other words, what’s good about it?

For both the chalkboard and bullet journal, the act of transcribing forces me to either elevate or table topics or to-do items. It’s like ongoing triage. If you don’t want to keep moving an item forward, maybe you don’t really need to do it. And then the items I consistently keep moving, but really need to get done, I flag in red and move them to top priority.

Lots of people use their phones to keep track of lists and notes, but I find taking notes on my phone during business meetings to be distracting to both me and the people I am meeting with. Paper notes seem better, and I prefer to jot notes about something I want to say, or a question I have, as well as things I need to do that are raised in the conversation – it can be less obtrusive than whipping out my phone. And I am visual, so I like to draw arrows and circles and pictures to illustrate points and connections.

How does your system fall short? What aspects of it could be improved?

Both my systems are analog – so there is transcription involved when I need to move from the physical to the digital. My chalkboard is just the summary of the calendar items that relate specifically to my family, rather than the full snapshot of my week. It is limited in space, so I keep a master electronic calendar in iCal on my phone and desktop. On that calendar, I subscribe to calendars – such as the school calendar, and my company calendar, and I have a shared calendar with my husband for items related to the girls (such as birthday parties and classes they take, or evening functions)

My bullet journal is also analog, so if I don’t have it – like out to dinner or if I ran an errand, or at the gym – I have to make a note in my phone and then add it to the main list. I don’t like to take notes on my phone during a meeting – it feels disruptive to my concentration – so I am fine with this system. I also personally like the double-writing of things as it makes them “stick” – but I can see how for some people it might be duplicative.

Because I am very visual, and the act of writing down is significant for me – and both work pretty well. I’m always trying to fine-tune it though!

Read more about the series and how other real women manage their time by clicking here.