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Independent Consulting TIG Week: Purpose Calendar: Mastering the “4 Ds” by Mindelyn Anderson

Mindelyn Anderson, Ph.D., of Mirror Group LLC sitting on the arm of a lounge chair positioned in front of a fireplace, smiling broadly from ear to ear, chest length locs cascading over her shoulders, left hand resting on her left leg, legs crossed in a fire red sleeveless knee-length dress.
Photo Credit: Adrian Shelby Photography

Hello, I am Mindelyn Anderson, Founder + Principal of Mirror Group. I write today, on Juneteenth, a nascent Federal holiday commemorating freedom, to write on that very topic–freedom and mastery over our time as independent consultants (ICs). 

Hot Tip: Read Reality

I have long battled with cycles of work, overwork and exhaustion. What I previously characterized as passion, I now acknowledge as an intergenerational cycle of very capable women on my maternal line who are brilliant, bold, boundary traversers who burnout in their prime. Only recently have I gained the gumption to state that reality forthrightly and from a place of strength rather than whispered shame. Doing so has opened up resources–people, processes, practices–that are transforming my relationship with time.

Rad Resource: Seasoned Mentor

Back in early 2019, months before I hired myself as the employee at Mirror Group, I met with a SCORE mentor to receive guidance about my upcoming transition from on the side to full-time consulting. Gary shared insights into what this change would mean and our exchange went something like the following:

Gary: Right now you are doing it all and at some point you will either focus on delivering the services of your business or leading your business as an executive. 

Mindelyn: I love both!  How will I choose?

Gary: You will. Your focus will shift to the highest and best use of your time.

Gary worked with me to unpack valuing my time and shared a practical resource on How to Delegate to move me further away from 60-70 hour work weeks.

Numbered topics include “select jobs to be delegated”, “select the person”, and “turn over the assignment”.
Image Credit: Xeroxed typed copy of “How to Delegate” provided by SCORE Mentor Gary Rosen.

Cool Trick: Accountability Partner

Flash forward to Summer 2022, and I was still far from a 40-hour work week. I turned to an administrative assistant to partner with me to tame my calendar. We developed a weekly “purpose calendar” exercise where she laid out my week in advance and we reviewed each meeting’s purpose and objectives and reflected on whether I should “do, delegate, defer, or dump” those meetings moving forward as I transition to CEO of Mirror Group. It was eye opening to evaluate my use of time, see (mis)alignment with my goals, and account for the joys and pains of those choices on my IC journey.

Landscape-oriented table with column headers of “Time”, “Meeting Title”, “Meeting Purpose”, “Mindelyn’s Objectives”, “Next Steps/Action Items”, and “Meeting Reflection”.
Image Credit: “Mindelyn’s Purpose Calendar” provided by Mindelyn Anderson.

Lesson Learned: Pause and Reflect

When I feel my days or weeks are out of whack, I return to my intentions. What are my objectives in this season of my IC life? What steps and action items will bring me closer to alignment with my calling at this time? How is everyone in my ecosystem better off or not given how I use my time? What is gained and lost by taking or skipping that meeting? I have learned that the more I let go, the freer we all are–and how amazing is that!

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.

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