Get a Life conference re-cap!

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Life is returning to normal at the Total PMA office this week. After a phenomenal 2-day event, courtesy our tremendous staff and great volunteers, we are all walking away with a great sense of pride and accomplishment. I want to personally thank all of our attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, and online viewers who joined us for our first event!

It was so refreshing to see our attendees enjoying their time with us, but not just at the Wii station, but while developing action plans to transform their practices! We’ve all been to conferences where we tried to stay awake and keep interested long enough to walk away with something of value. At the Get a Life conference I personally spoke with many of our attendees about their action plans. Everyone seemed genuinely motivated and empowered to move forward with changes, whether those changes related to staffing processes, marketing plans, office expansion plans, or client service and follow up commitments . Even for those with larger firms who have been in the game for a while told me they found many areas that could be improved, and smarter ways to tackle long-time problems.

The excitement over the fun side of our event really opened my eyes to many different views of work-life balance. Work-Life balance isn’t always about leaving at 5:00 pm regardless of whether work is done; different people can find work-life balance in different ways. For some it’s about being relaxed enough around the office to have an engaging first meeting with a client and be in a good mood. For others, it might mean making sure the office runs smoothly so they can actually be fully present at their child’s soccer game without being mentally stuck in the office.

Our life stations throughout the exhibit hall were there to remind us all that balance can come in many forms. The Wii, walk through the grass, mini massage, and smell the roses stations were present to be a mental reset point for those attending that had forgotten about the small things in life after being sucked into the day-to-day demands of running their practices.

It’s natural in any business — whether it’s a solo operation, a small firm, or one with 50 employees– to become absorbed in the day-to-day and lose sight of what you’re working for, because everything you do is for the client. And that is the core of your business… to please the client. But what many of us encounter, myself included is that as our obsession with client service and delivery of a quality product increases with business growth, so does the neglect of our own needs, health, and quality of life.

We’ve all been there: we choose to meet with one last client or make one last phone call instead of eating dinner or leaving on time to catch up with friends. These choices don’t always present their consequences immediately; it happens over time. We get burned out, short fused, temperamental, and just plain frustrated. We forget why we work 80 hours per week, and just start to resent it. Unfortunately, this often means a diminishing quality of client service, negative influence in your personal life, or both. Maybe you start to have your secretary follow up with clients, when you should be the one on the phone. Or maybe you’re still taking the calls, but get frustrated easily and aren’t putting your best foot forward. Maybe this pills into your personal life, and you snap at your spouse when they ask you when you’re coming home. Neglecting yourself when building your career and business can have negative effects for all concerned.

By no means are we preaching that everyone should play video games when they feel overworked, or leave the office to play golf because they are frustrated. The goal of our programs is to improve the way attorneys run their businesses, to reinforce the mantra “work smarter not harder”. Simple changes in business process, intake, client communication, hiring, or internal technology, can have a positive ripple effect across a company. Over time, with proper management can dramatically improve work life balance through efficiency. When a business runs smoothly, employees are less stressed, not less serious, and can think more clearly and be more pleasant with the end client and each other.

Our mission is to help all legal professionals understand how better business tools and processes can help them achieve their balance, whatever that may be. Thank you again to everyone who helped make the Get a Life conference not only possible but a great success. We hope to see you in 2010!

Tell us how we can do better! What topics would you like to see at GAL 2010?

The Total Practice Management Association (Total PMA) is dedicated to the advancement of Solicitors, Legal Executives, Paralegals and other legal support staff in their struggle to build and manage a profitable practice without sacrificing their personal life.

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