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Independent Consulting TIG Week: How I’m Building Ease into My Consulting Practice by Alli Shurilla

Hi! My name is Alli Shurilla. I’m the Founder and Lead Consultant of AS Community Consulting, a consulting firm based in Brooklyn, NY (Lenapehoking) focused on equity and community-based consulting in evaluation, strategic planning, DEIAB, organizational assessment, and coaching. I’m also the current social media chair for the IC TIG!

When I first started my consulting business one of the biggest draws was the freedom and agency over my schedule and workload. However, I quickly found myself stuck in the same toxic work culture I was trying to get away from: feeling the pressure to keep standard business hours, attempting to fill my days with a full eight hours of “productive” work, and needing to fill breaks in client work with yet more “productivity.” Not only did it create fatigue and anxiety, but far from being productive, this tie to what I thought work should look like pulled me away from my natural rhythms of creativity and inspiration.

Yes, we need to respond to our clients’ work hours, and many of us have household dynamics and schedules out of our control. But I’ve found that the biggest thing keeping me stuck has been my own mindset and how I have bought into messages and values about work and productivity. One of the biggest messages in my way has been a fear and shame of being lazy.

Ever since, I’ve been trying to find a better balance and a healthier relationship to my work and my business. Like any successful business owner, I started to ask myself the real questions:

Why do I do “it” this way? Where does that come from? What are my values? And most importantly, What are my options? How else could this look? What if? and Why not?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been working on intentionally incorporating more ease and spaciousness into my days. This has looked a few different ways over the years, including four day work weeks, shorter work days, later mornings, and offline vacations.

This summer I’m experimenting with sleeping in more and not taking meetings before noon. I also have a small but mighty balcony garden that requires my attention and care. In return it offers me opportunities for peace, more spaciousness in my morning routine, and a really great outdoor office space.

Hot Tips

Here are some tips on building ease into your work day:

  • Build a reflective practice, whether that looks like journaling, letting your mind wander during a walk, or talking it out with a trusted friend or therapist.
  • Find a coach, mentor, advisor, or group that aligns with your values to help identify patterns and offer suggestions and support.
  • Use tools like a calendar scheduling tool and automated email replies to help you hold your boundaries and other automation tools or support (like a VA) to take busy work off your plate.
  • Invest in the things that give you joy, nourishment, and opportunities for rest.
  • Don’t forget the power of no. Get to know your own boundaries and find ways to maintain them.

Note: While I’m proud of my skills in self-reflection, my commitment to ease is rooted in the teachings of multiple intersecting social justice practices, including but not limited to racial justice, indigenous practice, and disability justice.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting IC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Independent Consulting Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from our IC TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

1 thought on “Independent Consulting TIG Week: How I’m Building Ease into My Consulting Practice by Alli Shurilla”

  1. Alicia Kiremire

    I love this quote – “I’ve been working on intentionally incorporating more ease and spaciousness into my days.” Reminds me that this takes intentional practice. Also, your balcony garden sounds amazing!

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