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    10 Time-Tracking Habits to Start Today

    10 Time-Tracking Habits to Start Today

      If you’re looking to save time and be more productive as a lawyer, look no further than developing stronger time management. 

      Naturally, perhaps the #1 thing you can do to manage your time better is to track your time better 

      The problems stem from a lawyer’s time-tracking habits—from Post-it notes to Excel, from an online or physical calendar, it can be very manual. It can even be verbal, with some lawyers having an assistant record time spent with a client. Some lawyers may not even remember to record client work dashed off while at court or on the go. 

      All of this manual time-tracking adds up to lost billable hours. The implications of lost billable hours are manifold, from decreased revenue to difficulty resource planning to simply feeling frustrated as you wonder “where did the time go?”  

      So let’s develop some new and improved habits. But quickly, first: What are the advantages of more closely tracking your time? 

      Advantages of tracking time 

      The pluses of tracking time are endless, but here are a few key ones: 

      • Accuracy: When you track your time effectively and systematically, you get an accurate picture of how you spend your time.
      • Transparent billing: By that same token, you develop an accurate and clear time report for your clients, making it easier for them to trust you.
      • Fair compensation: If your rate is $300 per hour but you forget to include just one hour every week, that’s a loss of $1,200 per month. And often, time leakage can be much worse.
      • Legal ethics and compliance: ABA and state bar rules prohibit lawyers from charging clients unfair fees for services. With proper time-tracking—especially when it’s connected to your invoicing—you can bill clients properly.
      • Good project management: Instead of guessing, tracking time accurately lets you know how long you’re truly spending on certain projects so you can track progress as the work unfolds. 
      • Resource planning: By that same token, when a project ends, you or your firm can see data on how many hours it took across teams so you can plan for similar work for the line. 

      To reap all of the above advantages, let’s take a look at some of the habits lawyers should develop. 


      Demystifying the Billable Hour: How to Right-Size Your Rates

      With prices rising so much over the last year (global inflation is forecasted at 8.8% in 2022), it’s the right time to look at your current rates and see if you’re charging enough to remain profitable.

      10 time-tracking habits for lawyers 

      Here are some key time-tracking habits—don’t lose track of them! 

      1. Track as you go to keep your billable hours from becoming leaky 

      The longer you wait to record, the more leakage becomes likely. Lawyers who wait until the end of the day to record their time lose 10–15% of their billable hours, and those who wait until the end of the week lose 25%, according to the ABA. 

      Recording in the moment simply saves time in the end. All you have to do is find a system—such as time-tracking software—to start and pause as you work. 

      2. Track time automatically in the background 

      The idea of stopping everything to log a new task is, well, unappealing. Yes, it might only take 30 seconds in real time, but the mental effort can be taxing and even decrease your overall productivity by introducing distractions.  

      To save time, invest in legal time-tracking software that works quietly in the background. This software includes application plug-ins for common programs like Microsoft Office so that when you open up Word, your software will start the clock on the project of your choice. This way, you’re tracking time without even having to push a button.   

      3. Take a (well-deserved) break 

      It may sound counterintuitive, but one of the most important ways to maintain productivity is to take regular breaks.  

      According to a study by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, taking intentional breaks from making decisions at work allows employees to make better decisions than they would without a break. With a good break, you’ll be able to get back to work more efficiently. 

      4. Track email use 

      Attorneys can easily get hundreds of emails a day. When your time tracking plugs into your email, it’s a significant time-tracking win. Pop open your email to sort through the day’s messages with ease and be confident that your time is automatically accounted for.  

      5. Standardize task labels  

      One major purpose of tracking time is to know how you spend your time. Develop a standardized system with labels such as:  

      • Court 
      • Client intake call 
      • Motion writing 
      • Lead follow-up 
      • Trial preparation 
      • Research  
      • Witness interview 
      • Email 

      With labels like this, you’ll be able to track your time accurately and send accurate invoices to clients, making your work more transparent.  

      What about LEDES codes?  

      To prevent a situation where, at week’s end, you’re looking through all of your hours and having to legally code them, use software that allows you to pick a LEDES code with a dropdown menu when you enter the task.  

      From that point on, you have that LEDES code saved for all your future work related to that task. 

      6. Track non-billable hours, too 

      The billable hour may take up more conversational space than non-billable ones, but that doesn’t mean they’re less important.  

      Attorneys spend hours each day on non-billable tasks. Tracking them is essential, allowing for better:  

      • Budgeting and forecasting 
      • Resource allocation 
      • Client care and experience 
      • Assessment of professional development efforts 

      It can even matter for compliance; some jurisdictions may require attorneys to report non-billable hours.  

      7. Take stock of your week 

      You’re appropriately labeling all of your tasks. Why? So that at the end of the week or month, you can evaluate how much time you spent on billable vs. non-billable hours, on calls for a client vs. court appearances.  

      If you have a hunch you’re spending too much time on the phone, you can put some data behind that hunch and make some adjustments to be more efficient. 

      8. Keep multiple timers running for multiple clients 

      Running multiple timers can improve your time-tracking game. This is critical because you may be switching between work for multiple clients or doing work that impacts many clients at the same time.  

      Look for software that allows you to juggle multiple timers and gives you the flexibility to edit each client’s information.  

      9. Time track on mobile 

      When on mobile, you may be recording time in a Notes app or even in an email to yourself and then going back to enter that information when you’re at the computer later.  

      Instead, make sure you use time-tracking software that has iPhone and Android app options and creates a seamless integration between mobile and desktop so that you don’t have to revisit your records later.  

      10. Automatically integrate time tracking with invoicing 

      Another way to gain efficiency is of course, to avoid record time twice—first for you and then to bill your client.  

      Look for software that automatically integrates your time-tracking with invoices, giving you a double advantage: the more accurate your internal time-tracking is, the more accurate your client billing will be, boosting their trust in you.  

      Improve your time-tracking habits with Rocket Matter 

      Rocket Matter has carefully developed legal-specific time-tracking software that helps you hone all of the above habits.  

      If you and your firm want to start eliminating time leakage, staying extremely accurate, and gaining regular intel and insights to hone your business, start your free trial today 

      Demystifying the Billable Hour: How to Right-Size Your Rates

      With prices rising so much over the last year (global inflation is forecasted at 8.8% in 2022), it’s the right time to look at your current rates and see if you’re charging enough to remain profitable.

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