Five Ways to Improve Time Tracking for Attorneys
As an attorney, streamlining how you track billable hours is essential to achieving your full potential as a productivity powerhouse.
By making every minute count and developing a robust system for time tracking, you will maximize your earnings and have more time for life outside the office (or the courtroom).
Keep reading for our top five time-tracking tips, tricks, and best practices—so you can put your precious time and energy toward clients and cases, not tedious timesheets.
Why it’s worth improving your time tracking
Before we get into the “how,” let’s address the “why”: what kinds of benefits can attorneys expect if you invest time into fine-tuning your time-tracking methods?
You’ll spend less time on time tracking
Although manually recording your billable hours on a digital spreadsheet or a paper timesheet might not seem like a major time waster, consider how many hours it adds up to over months.
Those hours could be better spent on work, leaving the office a few minutes early, or even rejuvenating breaks for deep breathing or walking around the block.
You’ll make fewer mistakes
The near-inevitability of human error means that you may miss out on precious billable hours by forgetting to consistently record them, or by recording them inaccurately.
A mistake here and there might not seem like much, but just like the time wasted on manual time tracking, a few minutes off here and there can be significant—especially if you’re billing at hundreds of dollars per hour.
Switching to automatic time tracking leaves much less room for error, ensuring you’re getting paid for every minute of work you do.
You’ll improve your productivity
If you’re trying to improve your time management skills and maximize your productivity, it’s helpful to know exactly how you’re spending your time every day.
High-quality time-tracking software makes that possible by automatically capturing the time you spend on various applications. With that data at your disposal, you can make more informed decisions about how you spend your time.
Still need convincing? Here’s our more detailed explanation of how improved time tracking can boost profitability while decreasing workload.
Five tips to improve time tracking for attorneys
Build a productive, effective time-tracking routine with these five Rocket Matter-approved time-tracking tips for you and your law firm.
1. Establish a time-tracking policy at your firm
Everyone at your firm should be using the same system for time tracking. That means the same software AND the same practices. Otherwise, once it’s time to start sending out invoices, you’ll have to deal with a confusing variety of time records that might be difficult to compare.
You should have a written policy that explains how everyone in the office is expected to track their time. This should include law firm expectations and compliance requirements, as well as how:
- How software should be used
- How billing rates and codes are applied
- How to create time entries with the correct level of detail
- How billable and non-billable hours are differentiated
Standardizing time tracking across your firm means greater consistency and efficiency—and fewer non-billable hours spent on invoicing, especially when your time-tracking software is integrated with your practice management solution.
2. Train your team on how to use time-tracking tools
When you institute a standard time-tracking policy, schedule at least one employee training session to ensure everyone knows how to use the tools you’ve specified.
Offer hands-on training for your chosen time-tracking tool, covering basics like setup and navigation and the more advanced features that streamline project management and reporting.
3. Set time tracking KPIs to monitor progress
Key performance indicators, or KPIs, are measurable metrics that allow you to track and compare your performance to past performance. This provides the satisfying ability to monitor your progress and see results over time.
Here are some examples of KPIs you can use to assess your time tracking, as well as the efficiency of your overall practice management:
- Ratio of billable hours to non-billable hours worked
- Ratio of billable hours worked to total available working hours
- Percentage of billable hours that are accurately recorded in the time tracking system
- Total percentage of billable time that ends up getting paid by clients (also known as the realization rate)
- Average time it takes to receive payments from clients after sending invoices (also known as the collection cycle time)
The KPIs you choose to monitor will vary depending on your firm’s strengths and weaknesses.
4. Choose the right time-tracking software
Not all time-tracking software is created equal. Here’s what high-quality time-tracking software should include:
- Multiple timers that allow you to track time for multiple tasks more easily.
- Intuitive real-time recording that makes it easy to pause the timer whenever you stop working and resume it when you restart.
- Integration with other software like the tools you use regularly, including Microsoft 365, QuickBooks, Evernote, and more.
- Smartphone apps: Your chosen time tracker should not only offer a top-notch desktop app but also iPhone and Android apps that allow you to track your time from anywhere.
5. Use your time-tracking software correctly
There are lots of ways you can modify your time-tracking habits to maximize your billable hours:
- Track your time as you go, rather than tallying everything up at the end of the day (which can cause you to lose 10%—or even more—of your total hours).
- Avoid client disputes by recording how you’re spending your time in detail.
- Automate as many tasks as possible to reduce time spent on non-billable work.
For more advice on this topic, check out our 10 time-tracking tips to maximize your billable hours.
Rocket Matter simplifies time tracking for busy law firms
As we’ve already mentioned, choosing the right software is an essential step in improving your firm’s time tracking. Rocket Matter checks all the boxes, simplifying not only time tracking but also invoicing, billing, and payment to make practice management as seamless as possible.
Rocket Matter uses intuitive Bill-As-You-Work™ technology for time tracking and expense capture, automating redundant tasks to make your life easier. The benefits are real—satisfied clients attest that Rocket Matter’s best-of-breed time tracking and billing functionalities can help boost revenue by over 20%.
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