Brilliant Business Moms with Beth Anne Schwamberger

So first off, the very first thing I am just bursting to tell you is that the 2018 Brilliant Life Planner will drop in the shop this week of recording: Friday, November 3rd @ 10 AM Pacific / 1 PM Eastern. Make sure you’re following @brilliantlifeplanner on Instagram because that’s where the planner fun will happen. There’ll be so much going on for those of you who can join the launch live, and also for our early-bird purchasers. Pencil this date into your planner and come hang out! It’s been amazing to hear from so many ladies who are so excited for this year’s planners. It gives me all kinds of warm fuzzies to hear how you love it, how much you’ve used and loved it this year, and how much you’re looking forward to 2018! I just want to say thank you for loving and cherishing The Brilliant Life Planner as much as I do! I wanted to pop behind the mic and share a few quick insights into what I’ve been learning about regarding Time Management, Intentional Living, and Goal Setting - all those weighted, heavy words - this year since I had a baby in April. I hope to give you some perspective, some encouragement, and maybe even some wisdom.

Direct download: BA-Solo-Dont-Miss-This-FINAL.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EST

I just loved chatting with a brilliant Mompreneur I met this year through Instagram, Leesha Chamberlain. Leesha is a wife, a mom to one adorable little girl, and a wellness coach. She blogs at Living Contently where she helps women take better care of themselves and their families.

Press the play button below or read on to hear our conversation about self-image, how to create a beautiful Instagram feed, and how she uses her planner to maintain a healthy balance between work and home.

Listen Now

1:10 - So Tell Me Really, What IS a Wellness Coach?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been seeing a lot about wellness coaches these days! It seems like there are a ton of different ways wellness coaches run their businesses and I haven’t really taken the time to figure out what a wellness coach actually does! Thankfully, Leesha shared her own journey and gave me some clarification.

She’s been coaching people, especially moms, to health and wellness for about 18 months now. Leesha was drawn to wellness coaching due to her own childhood history of weight struggles, and a battle with disordered eating in high school. Leesha was able to conquer those battles...but only temporarily. When she was pregnant, those same issues came flooding back.

Knowing she had a little girl on the way helped Leesha realize enough was enough.She knew she had to do something better for herself and her daughter. She knew she had to learn healthy eating habits along with a healthy lifestyle.

This life-changing decision prompted Leesha to start looking at different options.  But with her history of disordered eating, plus her new role as a nursing mom, Leesha knew she needed to be careful.

She read a blog post that described a program the author used to lose weight after having her baby, plus preserve her breastfeeding relationship and adopt long-term healthy habits. (Win! Win! Win!) The author was a wellness coach and her program was successful for Leesha too! She found the accountability and support to be invaluable and lost 40+ pounds - that was all her baby weight and then some!

You can imagine with these kinds of dynamic results, Leesha was eager to share with others, which started her own journey to becoming a wellness coach.

To be trained as a wellness coach means understanding nutrition and fitness in a healthy, balanced way. Leesha learned that health isn’t restricting intake, but giving your body exactly what it needs.

 Inside the Planner of an Instagram Influencer and Wellness Coach

4:55 - Helping Women Get Healthy

Women often feel pigeonholed into maintaining one focus with health and fitness, like losing weight, and nothing else. As a coach, Leesha works with women at all different stages of their journey. She looks at the goals, backgrounds, and lifestyles of her clients, then together they create a plan with tools and resources that work.

Leesha is especially passionate about unlocking these wellness journeys for moms! It’s hard for moms to take care of themselves. But with Leesha’s programs, her moms create healthy lifestyles for themselves and the whole family!

5:51 - When Being Vulnerable Makes You Stronger

I can totally relate to pregnancy bringing up all sorts of body image issues. I gained 62 pounds when I was pregnant with Levi. He’s 6 months old now, and I’ve since lost almost all of it. But I still worry if I’ll ever feel like myself again!

This is the same type of fear Leesha stuffed deep down inside. But once she started talking, the power of those fears left. Who would have known that actually airing these worries would make them go away?

Women, we need to talk to other women and encourage one another!

7:30 - Curating an Intentional Instagram Feed

I actually met Leesha through her beautiful Instagram feed. I’m always on the lookout for brilliant business moms doing fabulous things, and not only are Leesha’s photos gorgeous, but her posts are so well done!

All her content is centered around getting healthy and living intentionally, and I just love how seamless she’s made her feed.

Of course, you don’t curate a beautiful feed by accident. Leesha says her two goals with Instagram are to tell her story and connect with others.

After all, her business model requires quite a bit from her customers. She needs women to feel comfortable about approaching her with their concerns about weight and self-image. So she has to make a strong first impression on her potential clients!

Leesha is really intentional with the content she curates for her feed. Each post touches on one of 5 main themes. (Isn’t this a great tip!?)

Leesha suggests choosing those 5-6 things that are really a part of who you are as a person, and curating only posts that fit one of those themes.

Leesha goes beyond just talking about her  business and helps people to connect with her on a personal level too.

Leesha’s 5-6 things are:

  1. Fitness
  2. Faith
  3. Family
  4. Motherhood
  5. Self-love
  6. Health

Take a minute and think through the qualities and passions that will define your own Instagram feed!

 Inside the Planner of an Instagram Influencer and Wellness Coach

11:30 - Capturing Gorgeous Instagram Photos

We’ve talked about big-picture content, let’s get down to the pretty images. Leesha has some fabulous tips for creating beautiful Instagram images.

I hope it’s encouraging for you to know that Leesha has no professional photography experience. Really!

You don’t have to be a super pro to have a professional-looking feed. What you do need, and what Leesha practices, is a desire to make constant improvements. Leesha is constantly gleaning as much information as she can to be better at her craft - both as a coach and a social media influencer.

Leesha was kind enough to share several of those tips with me.

  1. Pick 3-4 backgrounds to use consistently. You can use either a natural background in your house or something you’ve purchased like a piece of fabric or poster board. A consistent background will do a lot to make your feed more cohesive.
  2. Lighting! Lighting! Lighting! Again, to encourage those of us who are beginners, Leesha doesn’t have any fancy photography equipment! All her photos are iPhone photos. Lighting will be your game changer. And my favorite rule for lighting is the more natural light the better. This means Leesha often takes her images right beside a window in her house or using a big presentation poster board as a backdrop. So the light coming in from the window will reflect off of the white surface of the poster board.
  3. Edit, just a little. Since Leesha’s photo-taking is all smart-phone based, she relies on apps for editing. To crop or adjust lighting, her two favorite apps are Snapseed and Aviary. And of course there are tons of other photo editing apps that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Pick one and play around with it until you get something that you find attractive. (And go ahead and test more than one option!)
  4. Choose one filter for all of your images. Whether it’s a filter within Instagram or a third-party editing app, picking just one to use will help you achieve a cohesive, professional look. Leesha uses a particular filter on Aviary for each of her photos.

Instagram is a scrolling environment--where thumbs are whizzing past pictures every day! You want your images to stand out so that people say, “OH! That’s my favorite business owner’s post. I’ll take time to read what she said.”

And Leesha’s feed is truly beautiful! It’s so light and bright. She sprinkles other photos in with her standard backgrounds, but that white background is the glue that holds everything together!

The final effect is really professional.

 Inside the Planner of an Instagram Influencer and Wellness Coach

18:10 - Picture-Perfect Doesn’t Have to Take Forever!

Figuring out the perfect filter or the perfect app can be tough.  In so many aspects of her business, Leesha spends a lot of time at the front end to do research, play around with options, then figure out exactly what she wants before putting her plan into action. It’s worth the time you spend initially to get the results you’re after.

You might be wondering, how much time does it take to get that picture-perfect result?

Well, it varies and Leesha admits she’s a bit of a perfectionist. How much time she’ll spend on a photo really depends on the quality of the original image and how much editing she needs to do. If she can stage the photo on her specific background and have good natural lighting, it might take 10-15 mins to do her simple photos and edits.

Another way Leesha streamlines her process is to try to use the same edits each time.

But here’s the great news... the more you practice, the faster you get!

20:50 - It Won’t Always be this Hard

When you’re first learning something new, it can feel overwhelming.

It’s easy to think that a certain task or skill will always be super challenging and time consuming.

“Posting on Instagram will always be hard.”

“Filing my business taxes will always be hard.”

And sure, at first your images might take an hour to create from start to finish, but it won’t always be that way.

Cheer up, mama! Things WILL get easier! Keep learning and practicing. You can do this!

21:28 - More than Just a Planner...

It’s been clear talking to Leesha that she’s a total go-getter Mamaprenuer. It shouldn’t come as no surprise that she’s always been a planner nerd. (I totally get it!! You’re my person, Leesha!) I was blushing at the lovely compliments Leesha had for the Brilliant Life Planner.

Like so many of you, she wanted a planner that worked for her business and personal life. Leesha knew ahead of time that two separate planners would be less efficient for her.

One of her favorite components (and a favorite of many!) is the weekly reflection pages. Not only can you record memories and gratitude, you can also keep those goals you set at the beginning of the year at the forefront of your mind. It’s nice to have that weekly progress report, so you don’t lose steam by March!

Leesha says she always thought she’d be a scrapbooking type mom, but she’s not! The weekly reflection pages allow her to record the cute things her daughter did and said, so she can keep that record of what’s happening as her daughter grows, without spending the time that scrapbooking takes.

25:00 - Project Planner

Another page Leesha loves is the Project Planner! (And honestly, I don’t think this amazing resource gets enough press! I’m glad Leesha mentioned it.) On the Project Planning pages you can break down those big, whopping assignments of yours and list each specific step. It guides you through thinking about the budget, time frame, and what needs to happen to get that big project done!

27:15 - Getting Straight A’s in Planner School

Another benefit of the Brilliant Life Planner Leesha loved is a series I did in January: Planner School.

It’s a video-driven walkthrough of my goal setting process (with your Brilliant Life Planner, of course!) that initially took place in a lively, interactive Facebook group.

Leesha says she always wanted to be a woman with a pretty-to-look-at planner, but it’s not her style! It was so great for her to see all the colorful, stickered planner pages in the Planner School Facebook group. But the great thing about the Brilliant Life Planner? It’s pretty on its own - you don’t HAVE to do anything else!

28:28 - How Leesha Plans Her Days

It’s been so fun for me to see how different ladies use the Weekly Time Blocking pages. Leesha let me in on her process, and it’s just as unique and lovely as she is!

Like many of you (myself included) Leesha does not describe herself as a super strict schedule follower. Much like Julie Fuller, Leesha will use her time blocks to first plot out specific, time- sensitive activities like meetings and training.

Each morning, she’ll take time to write out her daily priorities to accomplish. And Leesha does mean priorities! She’ll list out her tasks in a numbered list, 1 through 10, by order of importance. So when Leesha gets a pocket of work time during the day, she knows exactly what needs to happen next.

Of course, some days go much more according to plan than others! This numbered priority list guides her. And what doesn’t get accomplished in one day just moves to the next.

With a new baby at home, that’s usually how my planner looks, too! In so many ways I’m actually an anti-planner! First and foremost, my planner is a tool to help me reach my goals and stay focused on what matters most. Life often means that my planner gets jumbled and things move around. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

30:13 - Give Yourself Permission To Move Tasks

I thought Leesha’s simple practice of moving unfinished tasks to the next day was so refreshing! We aren’t getting graded by how much we can check off a list in a day! That’s not a fair assessment of what truly matters.

Of course, I want you to work hard at your business goals and craft that brilliant life of yours. But, at the end of the day, I want you to lay your head on your pillow and know that cuddling your kiddos or having a meaningful conversation with your husband were the most important things you could do.

And those tasks that didn’t get finished? Just move them on over. You always get an A+ at life in my book :)

32:40 - Leesha’s Biggest Struggle With Time Management

If we’re being honest, being a mom is often our biggest time management struggle!

Leesha says that she’s pretty task-oriented and enjoys that feeling of checking off her to-do list. But of course, you can’t always start and finish tidy tasks with kids at home!

What keeps Leesha grounded is maintaining her priorities that she is a mom first, and a business owner second.

When you design your life with snacks, diaper changes, and cuddles in mind...it all works out.

37:10 - Leesha’s Adorable Mom Moment

Little ones help us see so much of ourselves! Leesha loves seeing how her daughter Grace has adopted some of her habits.

For example, when Leesha grocery shops she always takes a detailed meal plan and shopping list. As items get added to the cart, she checks them off her list. Grace already (within her first year!) has had to have a notebook and pen with her when they go to the grocery store to keep track of her little items!

Isn’t that the cutest!?

I loved this conversation with Leesha, and hope you came away feeling as refreshed and validated in your planning as I did!

Connect with Leesha

Instagram: @leeshachamberlain

Site: Living-Contently.com

Direct download: BBM_Leesha.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:20pm EST

An Etsy Shop Owner's Planner Hacks for Productivity

Julie Fuller is the super creative owner of Tokyo Blossom Boutique where she sells Christian gifts for women. She’s married to a fellow creative, and together they have one handsome son.

As a busy Etsy seller and mom to a darling boy with special needs, it’s critical that Julie makes the most of her time. Press play on the podcast player below or keep on reading to hear all about Julie’s brilliant planner hacks.

Fun side note here!: Julie was one of the very first listeners of the Brilliant Business Moms podcast! Julie and I got to hang out at a conference in Nashville last year, and I wasn’t at all surprised to discover she’s as sweet in real life as she is online!

Listen Now

1:30 - Not Sure How to Grow your Biz? Listen To Your Customers!

Julie’s shop, Tokyo Blossom Boutique, has gone through a bit of a transformation in the time I’ve known her. Lately, her business has been growing in fabulous ways, and I just had to hear what changes Julie’s made that have led to her new growth!

Through 2016, Julie was selling lots of hand crochet and knit items. One of her products, knit cup cozies, was selling WAY more than the other items, but she couldn’t figure out why. At that time in business, Julie had been working hard to make her brand visually unified, rather than focusing on a target audience.

The more cup cozies she sold in person, the more feedback she got that her product was encouraging. One lady said she was buying a cozy for a friend who’s not very joyful, as a reminder to be joyful. (This one made us both chuckle a bit!)

After they purchased a cozy, customers would message Julie to say they purchased it because they needed the inspirational message to encourage them during a difficult time. One woman in particular wrote to tell Julie that her husband was facing tough medical issues and life was especially hard; She wanted a cozy to have that reminder to be joyful right on her daily cup of coffee. (Wow, that’s a powerful reason to buy a product! And Julie listened to each of her customer’s stories carefully!)

Early in 2017, Julie decided to focus on developing more encouraging products that her customers would love.

She revamped her shop and made mental notes of which products to purge and which to keep. The cup cozies, of course, stayed! Another favorite product, her planner clips, got a makeover; Julie redesigned them to incorporate inspirational messages. And the switch worked! Many customers are using the planner clips not just for planners, but to accessorize their Bible journals.

Tokyo Blossom Boutique is now happily a Christian gift company!

I just love the simple but impactful steps Julie took to refine her business:

  1. Meet customers
  2. Listen to them
  3. Serve their needs

5:30 - Selling Handmade in a Retail Space

The day following our recording, Julie moved into her first retail space! She’s officially a vendor at Woodstock Market, which is a huge retail store of local makers selling home decor and gifts.

Julie had been eyeballing this place for a year and a half...she knew it would be a great opportunity! Plus, once a vendor gets in, they receive lots of traffic and attention from local businesses and boutiques.

Though Julie’s desire to have space in a retail setting was strong, she knew there was a lot that had to happen in her business and personal life before justifying the risk. Julie’s husband Scott had recently started his own creative business, and she wanted to give him time to get his business going strong. Julie wanted to have the confidence that even a small risk wouldn’t hurt their family.

A wise move on Julie’s part was that she also wanted to make sure her shop was ready for a bigger platform. Though her products were visually appealing and high quality, she wasn’t confident that she could give a tidy description of her shop in one sentence. She wanted to work toward that unity within her business before contacting Woodstock Market.

The right time turned out to be 18 months after she first started thinking in that direction.

Julie had a peace about finally reaching out to the merchandising coordinator and putting in her application, and she heard back the very next day! Those magic words, “You’re a perfect fit, and your products are just what we’ve been looking for!” were exactly what she needed.

Since Woodstock Market is Christian-owned, they’d been looking for a vendor who offered Christian gifts. Talk about perfect timing!

After Julie got her initial call back from the space, she then had to go through an interview process. Julie says that she appreciated how honest and validating her discussion with the merchandiser was. Julie asked hard questions, like “What if I bomb as a seller!? And can you explain the details of this contract?” And she got straightforward answers right back.

In fact, everything worked out so perfectly, that Woodstock Market actually made room for Julie when they had just booked their last spot! She’s been getting great feedback from her in-store shoppers. And it’s encouraging to Julie that many local stores got their start as a vendor at Woodstock Market.

11:45 - Julie’s Brilliant Life Planner Business Hack

I already love Julie’s planner clips, but planner clips aren’t the only creative planner hack she’s made!

Julie has experimented a lot with the Brilliant Life Planner. The planning pages at the beginning of the year and each month have been a big part of her goal setting. But, like most of us, Julie says most of her hang-ups come during those daily, mundane tasks.

She would look at the blank week ahead feeling like a deer in headlights! What were all those nitty, gritty business tasks she had to do? Planning for social media, sending her newsletter, marketing, and contacting the right people...the list was overwhelming!

Inspired by Crystal Paine’s Homemaking Binder, Julie made a master binder for her business that she incorporates in her planner. She listed all her weekly, recurring business tasks by day and tucked that list in the front pocket of her Brilliant Life Planner. Now Julie tackles that blank week with confidence! She fills her schedule with the regular tasks first and then adds in all the unique ones.

Etsy Shop Owner Julie Fuller's Planner

16:00 - How to Make Sure Important Biz Tasks Always Get Done!

Julie’s system for tackling recurring biz tasks is brilliant! She has an awesome system in place to make sure none of the important tasks in her business fall through the cracks. She makes progress on all of them each week.

So what are some of Julie’s recurring business tasks?

On Mondays, for example, she makes it a point to give her Etsy shop an update. How does everything look? Are her listings up-to-date? Is there anything new she wants to add to her Shop Announcements? Julie keeps regular tabs on her shop so it always shines.

Does Julie kick herself if she misses one week of shop updates? Not at all! But having this important to-do on the schedule ensures it gets accomplished more often than not.

Some other biz tasks Julie keeps on her recurring list are interactions with fans on Instagram. Like many of us, it’s easy for her to update Instagram, but not necessarily to remember to come back and interact with fans, so she puts it in her planner.

Julie also includes a list of who to contact for marketing, such as wholesale businesses and box companies. So brilliant! If marketing isn’t a regularly scheduled part of your business, growth is pretty hard to achieve!

17:00 - Brilliant Planning = Crushing Goals!

Julie’s planning strategies have allowed her to meet her great big goals, and I couldn’t be more excited for her!

In 2016 she doubled her sales from 2015, and for 2017, her goal is to double her sales AGAIN!

Julie is well on her way to reaching that milestone. At the time of this recording, she’s up 60% in sales from where she was last year! And with space in a retail setting and Christmas coming, hitting that goal is definitely within reach.

Let’s be honest, meeting these goals didn’t happen by accident. Julie has been super organized and strategic in making steady progress on her business every week.

17:50 - Washi Tape Planner Hacks

So, does Julie have any other tips for making the most of her planner? Yes!

As moms, a lot of our schedule outside of business can be counted as recurring, like picking up the kids from school, or a weekly lunch date with our husbands, as is Julie’s case.

Julie noticed that she was writing the same words and events over and over again. As a result, her pretty planner was getting cluttered!

For those daily recurring items, she writes them all out in the slots on her Monday section. And instead of writing the same task or event sideways across the week, over and over, she takes a piece of washi tape and tapes out the same hourly slot through the week. It’s one way she keeps her planner neat and pretty, plus saves herself time.

The same washi tape hack can be used if Julie has a vacation coming up. If she needs to block out a full day or an entire week, Julie just stretches washi tape either vertically down the day, or horizontally across the week. Brilliant!

Etsy Shop Owner Julie Fuller's Planner

20:20 - Planner Clip Hacks

Julie uses 2-3 clips in her planner at all times. She uses one to mark her weekly planning page, and another for the monthly page. Marking the monthly page helps Julie make sure she doesn’t add events to her week that overlap with anything previously scheduled.

And when she’s working especially hard for a goal (like doubling sales from last year!) she adds a clip to her goals page too.

I just love this hack! Julie saves herself loads of time by speeding up all the small tasks she’s doing each day… like flipping through her planner!

21:15 - A Bonus Hack + A Fun New Addition for Planner Lovers!

Another great spot for using a planner clip is to mark your Habit Tracker page. But speaking of the habit tracker page, Julie (and many of you!) have asked if there are plans to include the habit tracker on the monthly page.

While we haven’t changed the format of the planner, we ARE creating habit tracker stickers! I’ve teamed up with Ashley Monda of Sunshine Sticker Co.  to make custom sticker pages just for the Brilliant Life Planner! They are gorgeous, and I can’t wait for them to hit the shop!

22:22 - Teeny Post-It Notes Making A Big Difference

Another thing Julie does with her planner that I just love is to use the smallest size sticky notes for repeated routines or lists. Turns out, those sticky notes are just about 1.5 inches by 2 inches and can fit across a several-hour block on our planner. Julie can then take her sticky of to-do’s and move them to different days as needed. How great is that!?

24:10 - Bullet Journal Hack

Don’t worry bullet journal fans...the planner works for you too! Julie also is a bullet journal user and has incorporated a half-and-half system in her planner.

She does time block recurring things. But during her big chunks of time, like the mornings when her son is at school or the afternoons if he takes a nap, she bullet journals. Rather than schedule 30-minute increments, she gets a lined stamp for planners and stamps lines into that block of time to create a bullet-journal style to-do list

I do the same thing! I frequently use my big blocks of time as a to-do list.

25:25 - Adorable Mom Moment

Julie’s son refers to her customers as ‘friends’. One afternoon as the two of them worked in their home office, he was very quiet and preoccupied with a project in the corner. He then came to Julie and showed her scraps of papers and glued them together. He said he made something for her ‘friends’ and they need to buy it so they’ll be happy. So cute! He gets it!

And you’ll have to tune in to the podcast for a second adorable moment that Julie shared!

Stay In Touch With Julie

Etsy: Tokyo Blossom Boutique

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

What do you think? Will you try any of Julie’s planner hacks?

I know I need to make better use of my clips, and I’m excited to give washi tape a try for some of my daily routines!

Direct download: BBM_Julie_Fuller.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:51pm EST

Today we’re talking with Jill Martin of Strong Hearts, Strong Women. Jill and her husband Sean live in Texas and are parents to 13 kids: 11 at home and 2 who live in heaven. Their family has been built by birth and adoption, and includes several kids with special needs. Strong Hearts, Strong Women is an online community that Jill has built over the last year.

I’m so excited to chat with this amazing woman about how she’s grown her business over the last year and how she’s used her planner to juggle everything and live intentionally.

You will absolutely LOVE how Jill has gotten her kids involved in planning too! It’s a unique focus that will probably surprise you!

Listen Now

 

1:15 - From Stay at Home Mama to Encourager and Community-Builder

Strong Hearts, Strong Women started almost a year ago, when Jill originally wanted to coordinate fitness and nutrition groups. It’s a passion of hers and something she already does in her free time. A fitness coach friend of Jill’s encouraged her to give it a go, so she did!

Thirty women signed up for a one-month Facebook group, and when she looked at the makeup of the group, Jill felt like the women would be best served by the addition of a Bible study. In Jill’s mind, “No matter how many push-ups you do, if your insides aren’t right you’re still not going to be happy with your life.”

Jill’s first group was so successful that ladies were begging her to do it again!

These groups, that initially began as month-long groups, kept going for months after. Well into the New Year, Jill hosted a group every single month, with between 30-40 new women in each group.

From these groups, Strong Hearts, Strong Women was born. Jill put together a 3-week test group with women she knew where they talked about common struggles they experience. Together, the group tackled fitness and nutrition issues, but also self-image, forgiveness, or feeling that part of your life was a mistake. (They dug really deep!)

Shortly after this beta test group, Jill’s daughter had a big surgery. During that time, when Jill was using Facebook live to talk about her daughter’s recovery, a lot of people really connected with Jill and asked her to keep Strong Hearts, Strong Women going.  Jill was grateful for that interest, but had a lot on her plate! What should she do next?

In July, she was finally ready to reopen the group. Currently the Strong Hearts, Strong Women community is at 260 members! She sees herself as a community leader -- helping women to focus on character qualities, growing strong in heart, mind, and life. In short, it’s a safe place to be honest about hard things.

5:35 - Using a Word of the Year

Encouragement is Jill’s word of the year for 2017. (Let us know if you chose a word of the year, too!) And though encouraging others was a big goal of Jill’s, she found that she was the one getting encouragement in return.

6:20 - Family Goal Setting

Jill has always been a big goal setter and she’s introduced the practice to her kids. Each year between Christmas and New Years, the entire family picks areas of life to focus on and decides what they want to learn and spend time on.

All together, they brainstorm the next year and lay out their goals.

One year, Jill’s daughter wanted to make homemade bread, so they chose a new recipe to try each month and wrote it at the top of the month on her calendar. Isn’t that so fun!?

7:25 - Using the Brilliant Life Planner

Calendars have always been important to Jill since she loves scheduling and plotting things out. The Brilliant Life Planner came her way at the perfect time last year and she especially loves the visual planning tools, like the Big Goal Mind-Mapping page.

The way Jill uses these pages is that her kids will choose one character quality to write in the center as their big goal. For example, they may choose kindness or diligence.

One of Jill’s daughters, Joanna, has given us permission to use her worksheets as an example. (Thanks, Joanna!!!)

Joanna chose kindness for the year. She wrote kindness at the center of the mind map. Then she has all sorts of ideas for how to make kindness part of her life on the lines pointing back to the center: have more people over, more pizza nights, read to her brother, and so on.

I love how the Martin family centers their year around these one-word character qualities! And they don’t limit themselves with their goal-setting. Jill says their goals can be about anything: educational, business, personal, spiritual, crafty...whatever they want! As long as the goal connects back to the character quality, it gets put on the calendar for completion.

For Jill’s goal of encouragement, she would plan out how to make that happen for the year, like writing letters to friends or doing an act of kindness.

Joanna working on her sunburst goal page

9:50 - Kindness in Action: How a Character Goal Comes to Life

To give a real-life example of how this plays out, Jill shared more about Joanna’s goal of kindness.

Joanna has some academic struggles, including reading and writing. Jill took this as an opportunity to get reading onto Joanna’s goal list by asking: What are some kind things you can do for others?

Sure enough, reading aloud to another sibling (a brother with a lot of disabilities) made her list. He recently received a diagnosis of brittle bone disease, which means his lifestyle is especially limited, and Joanna found a way to help.

One of the MANY things we love about Jill is how she views challenges as opportunities. In Joanna’s case, she saw the challenge of her brother being in bed as an opportunity to put a smile on his face by reading to him.

Is that not a triple win!? Building character, bonding with siblings, and - surprise - becoming a great reader all wrapped up in the goal of kindness.

Jill and her older teenager have physical copies of our Brilliant Life Planner, while her littles use our printable pages, which you can get for free here: http://bit.ly/blpprintables

Each month, Jill and her littles do a monthly check-in with their goals. I can’t love this enough!!! As a busy mom, I use the weekly reflection pages to check in on my own goals, but how fabulous to check in with the kids on theirs, too!

13:45 - How a Goal of Encouragement Led to an Entire Community

Jill started off 2017 with a character goal of encouragement, and she’s been using that to guide her choices ever since. She says she would never have guessed that her goal of being more encouraging to others would lead to an entire community of women who are growing in their faith and their character.

The Strong Hearts, Strong Women Facebook community is a closed community that’s free to join. Jill governs her Facebook group tightly so the women in it know it’s a safe and secure place to bring their struggles.

Members of her group get a monthly printable and devotional guide, as well as workbook pages; they can complete as much or as little as they want. The topics of these resources are geared around a character quality of the month, which the ladies in her group select.

15:50 - How Block Scheduling & Buffer Zones Help this Mama of 11 Run a Tight Ship

Can there possibly be a typical day with 11 kids in the house!? (And did we mention Jill homeschools her kiddos!?)

Surprisingly, Jill actually does have a typical day. She says she runs a tight ship, and she likes it that way:  “I’m that person who likes surprises when I plan them,” she laughs. “I like to know what to expect.”

Having multiple kids with special-needs, Jill has spent a lot of time in doctor’s offices. And you know what? Her favorite doctor, an orthopedic surgeon, taught her about efficiency! She only waits ten minutes in the waiting room, her family gets to spend a half hour with him, it’s not rushed, and everyone leaves happy!

That wonderful doctor taught her how to schedule her home. While homeschooling and managing her kids will change with the seasons of life, what doesn’t change is block scheduling and leaving buffers. That’s what the smart surgeons do!

The offices that squish everyone in for the sake of more patients end up spending only 5 minutes with each patient, which means nobody's happy.

Jill didn’t want that for her life.

She follows the natural rhythms of life to block out her day:

  • From Get Up to Breakfast
  • From Mid Morning Snack to Lunch
  • From Lunch to End of the School Day
  • Afternoon
  • Evening

Then, depending on the ages of her children, Jill will put 3 - 5 tasks in each time block, accounting for buffer time within each block.

Her high schoolers get to come up with their own schedules, but they’re not allowed to get behind on work!

Life will happen in the middle, so Jill PLANS to have time to change diapers and deal with meltdowns...or answer the phone...or fix a clogged toilet...or whatever comes her way!

Here’s her trick: At the end of the block, nothing from that block moves on to the next.

Some of the Martin kids gathered for read aloud.

20:00 - What We Can Learn about Productivity from High Schoolers

It’s really simple when you think about it! Even high school works like this: If English class is over, but you haven’t finished all the work for that class, do you stay in English or move on to the next class?

You move on to the next class, and you pick up where you left off with English tomorrow!

Jill uses the same system with her time blocking.

The things that occur in her morning block (between Breakfast - Morning Snack) stay in that block. And she has a buffer zone built in.

So, if it’s a good day, Jill might use that buffer to do business and social media stuff. She does mini tasks in those buffer zones or gives extra help to her kids, whatever is needed.

If a Morning Block task doesn’t get finished, it moves on to the next day in the same block. So the next block is FRESH.

Jill is fresh, tasks are fresh, and no one is stressed out. Tomorrow is always there!

(I LOVE that!)

21:20 - The Rhythm of the Day

The tasks that Jill needs to do every day are defined by the fact that most of her 11 kids are at home. The 2 oldest are away at school, but she has every age from littles to teenagers still at home. Her family lives on a farm in the country and they homeschool.

So first up in the day? Farm chores! These come before breakfast. Then, after breakfast, they do morning school work. She’ll put the hardest tasks first on the list, the ones that hit her children’s weakest points. It’s a mental thing and it teaches her kids to push themselves. So that might be spelling, language, or vocabulary development.

Jill’s buffer zone almost always includes diaper changes, bathroom issues, and medication delivery.

Then they have additional reading time, then go into math and writer’s workshop.

Next up is lunch and a prep time. Each kid has an assigned job. These jobs stay the same for the school year. One person sets the table every time, every meal, every day...for the whole calendar year!

Each person does their job before lunch. Then they do afternoon school work: history, science, singing, and art.

Then the afternoon includes free play, outside time, and farm activities.

For the evening there’s family time: Dinner, playing outside, games, riding bikes, whatever sounds fun!

24:50 - Rolling Right Over the Stuff that Keeps Others Down

Jill has an incredible mindset when it comes to her kids with special needs. She doesn’t want the disabilities of some of her children to define their family life, or their own lives!

She describes their approach as “not fussy; we just roll with it!” she says, “some kids get vitamins, some get seizure meds. It’s not an obstacle for them, it is what it is.”

27:00 - No Obstacles. Only Opportunities.

Isn’t Jill proof that every mom is capable of doing and accomplishing so much more than we think we can!?

Jill says, “If you make too much out of it, it will be. The mountain in front of you is only as big as you perceive it to be. You can decide: I’m not going to let this be an obstacle, I’m going to let it be an opportunity.”

Jill admits that her schedule was much more complex when she had just two kids. Now, it is much simpler. She sets those boundaries now because she has to.

27:35 - Facebook Live Tips - From one Brilliant Biz Mama to Another!

One thing we love about Jill is how she leverages Facebook Live to grow her online community and her ability to encourage others.

Jill says that she doesn’t practice, and she doesn’t do trial runs. If she’s going to a friend’s house, she’s not going to practice how she’ll answer a friend’s questions or have a conversation with them! She’ll just talk to her friend!

Jill treats Facebook Live the same way She usually has reasons for going live and she won’t just fish up topics for fun. Her content is natural and relevant for her audience.

So Jill’s Facebook Live Advice? “Don’t practice! Don’t make it too big. If you flub up, just go on or delete it. It’s not a big deal!”

And rewatch yourself to catch those mistakes or quirks you might want to fix for later lives!

30:40 - Jill’s Funny Mom Moment

One of Jill’s favorite memories is when her eldest, Jacob was really struggling with how to be patient with his youngest brother - who was a bit of a copycat and drove Jacob just a little crazy!

The two were playing basketball in the driveway when Jacob yelled, protesting, yet again, about his brother’s copying. Jill started out with a stern warning in her Mom voice, and Jacob quickly responded, “But I’m sick of opportunities for leadership!!!!!!!!!!!”

(Too funny! Jill’s kids love to joke about how she frames every struggle or nuisance as a “leadership opportunity!”)

Stay In Touch With Jill

Personal Page: Jill Martin

Facebook Page: Strong Hearts Strong Women

Facebook Group: Community Group-Strong Hearts, Strong Women

Jill's Full Course: Recalibrate

Direct download: BBM_Jill_Martin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:50am EST

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