Painless Timekeeping for Lawyers

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By I Done This Support

For lawyers who shudder at the very mention of the word “billable”, time keeping ranges the negative spectrum from the worst chore to the bane of lawyerly existence. The best way to keep track of your time is contemporaneous entries for accuracy’s sake, but that’s just not how a lot of people work. Timekeeping gets in the way, breaking any work flow mojo. It just isn’t a priority given the “actual” work to be done, and it’s an unnatural task for human beings who are more human than robot.

Many lawyers resort to guesstimation or have to don their Sherlock caps to search for clues among their notes, papers, and e-mails to reconstruct their days. This method actually takes more time and results in “time leaks,” where time flies away never to be recaptured. The time spent on time keeping itself is lost to the land of unbillable.

Lawyers use a variety of methods, from handwritten notes, spreadsheets, timers, and other manual data entry. Perhaps there is a magical Mary Poppins fix to this dreary chore? There’s probably, yes, an app for it, some technological doodad that results in less hassle and more accuracy. Think about it. You can lock your car door with your phone. We have probably surpassed the age of using spreadsheets and paper notes or that time- clocking dinosaur from the Flintstones.

Capture that Time!

Here are a couple applications and programs that lawyers (and freelancers and contractors!) can use to stop time leaks and concentrate on tasks in the land of the billable. Many are passive systems, which means that you don’t have to fuss about with entries or keeping track of yourself, or they make those tasks much easier.

  • Use idonethis (web or app) for a gentle daily nudge prompting you to log what you got done every day. You can set the time you receive your nudge, refer to old entries, and export your data to use as a CSV file or print.
  • Chrometa runs on your computer (available for Windows & Mac), keeping Big Brotherly track of what you’re up to. It has privacy controls plus a timer for logging any time spent away from your computer.
  • Similar programs include Smart Time (web) & Time Aid(Windows only).
  • Time Master is an app that can keep single or multiple timers running, even when you’re not running the app.
  • Solo practitioners and small firms may be interested in Clio or Time59, which are web-based and accessible across devices.

Sure, it’s hard to change your timekeeping behavior, but it may be worth giving one of these a whirl for a trial period to see if you gain more time (and time = $). Often, a law firm will dictate a timekeeping system, but you can supplement whatever is already in place.

But I’m Old-School!

Not interested in a techie fix? Make a daily-as-possible habit, block your times more consciously, get a fancy notebook that will make timekeeping feel like a very-important-person task, or set aside a few minutes to go over your time along with your daily cup o’ caffeine.


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