3 Time Tracking Tips for Busy Attorneys

3 time tracking tips for busy attorneys

Are you a solo attorney or small law firm working to keep up with time tracking? Tracking your time is vital for accurate billing and profitable decision-making, but it’s the one thing nearly everyone puts off until they absolutely have to do it.

It’s easy to get “in the zone” while working on something for a case and let recording your time slip until later. And you probably got it close, right? Maybe. But it’s hard to reconstruct a sliver of an hour with both the correct time and description. What if you under-billed by as much as 10% or 15%?

Whether you use a pre-printed paper timesheet or a technology-based solution, the point is to ensure your timekeeping is accurate and complete. But can you make this task easier? We think so.

Make tomorrow’s list today

It’s easy to write your to-do list first thing in the morning over a coffee at your desk. But it’s better to make that list before you leave for the day.

When wrapping things up, take five, ten, or even fifteen minutes to think about what you need to remember and do tomorrow. Check your calendar, emails, written notes, and wherever else your reminders live. Prioritize them accordingly so that you can get the most important things done first, then the second priority, and so forth, then make your to-do list.

How do you keep track of your lists? You can use:

  • Notepads (a 5” x 7” legal pad works well)
  • Sticky Notes or Notepad on your PC
  • Notes app on your smartphone
  • Google Docs in Drive
  • A template you can download and print from (MS Word, Google Docs, and other sources)
  • A task management/timekeeping system designed for lawyers and law offices

Use whatever works for you but make notes of what you need to handle tomorrow so that you’re ready to start first thing.

Stop letting email run your life

Seriously, email can steal time and make you forget what you were doing. How many times have you gone just to check your email, looked up, and 20 minutes—or more—have passed?

There’s a better solution: set time in your daily schedule to check and handle email.

We spend an average of 28% of our work time just managing email, according to this study from McKinsey. And it can take 23 minutes after an interruption to return to what you were doing—every time.

Solution: turn off the noise and constant distraction of notifications to focus on higher priority work. Set specific blocks of time in your schedule to check and manage emails. Whether you use five minutes at the top of the hour or longer periods three or four times a day, you can concentrate on the important tasks, including timekeeping.

Record billable hours immediately

Many lawyers wait until the end of the day—or the week—to record all their time. But chances are that you’ll be ready to wrap up the week on Friday afternoon and won’t remember all of your billable hours.

But legal practices live on those hours. Most lawyers charge by the tenth of an hour, or six-minute intervals. How much billable time are you missing?

A better way to keep track of everything is to record your billable hours immediately. This may seem like micromanaging, but recording your billable time as you finish ensures that you won’t miss or forget anything.

Harness technology

Sure, hand-writing time entries every time you finish a task can help you keep up with billable hours. But then you still need to waste valuable time keeping track of those written notes, transferring them accurately to your invoices, and filing them for easy reference. When you have software designed to handle that for you, it makes things much easier.

Time tracking software helps you quickly record your time as well as the details that go along with the activity. The right legal time tracking software will even offer mobile access through a smartphone app, so you can easily record your hours while traveling. Your billing and timekeeping will also be in one place, so you can seamlessly generate invoices directly from your time entries, then collect, record, and allocate payments using the same software tool. Your bookkeeper will appreciate it, and so will your clients.

With a legal practice management software that you can also use on the go, you can record your time for meetings, court appearances, and other client-related activity outside the office. Your calendar, task list, documents, and case management tools are always available from a single login to make managing your firm’s client affairs simple and seamless. Everything is reconciled and collated easily with a few simple clicks.

Learn more about CosmoLex

CosmoLex is designed to handle all of your law firm’s business operations from a single login—from time tracking and billing to payment processing, document management, task management, and accounting. To see for yourself how your law firm can benefit from CosmoLex’s fully integrated time tracking and practice management tools, sign up today for a free trial.

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