Successful time tracking is a habit. Like all habits, it takes a concerted effort to adopt it. Follow these steps to create a new habit that makes sure you are accurately tracking - and understanding - where your time is spent.
Define Your Process
For many attorneys, the process is writing down start and stop times on the folder related to each matter. At the end of the day or week, a legal secretary enters that information in to a billing system. Now, that's a manual process and requires multiple efforts, but it works. And if this is enough for you, then you are good to go.
But, if you look at how long it takes to accomplish the goal - and how many people are involved in the process - you are looking at an unnecessary use of time and effort.
Enter Time As Soon As Possible
The shorter the time between completing the task and recording it, the better. Get as close to real-time as possible. By end of the day is great. If you can do it as you complete each task, that's even better. It's a habit that needs to be built in. In the moment, it can feel like you are too busy to take the time to record it. But once you see how much easier to makes the entire process, you will feel the benefit.
Consider Tracking ALL of Your Time
You've see the analysis. Attorneys bill approximately 1/3 of their day - max - on billable work. The question is how is the rest of the time spent? There is only one way to find out. Track all of your time. Use the same process and be as thorough on the description as you would for a client invoice. Then, you can look back and see where your time is going. And work toward making your day more productive.
When recording your time, put yourself in the shoes of your client. 'Phone Call' isn't as descriptive as it could be. Add the topic and any particular detail or focus. If you are tracking billable and un-billable time, be just as descriptive. 'Business Development' isn't bad, but identify the actual focus of your effort, too.
Sure, time tracking is an independent task. But it's related to an entire process. So consider all the other processes related to time tracking. That includes invoicing, billing, and payment. If you are going to create new habits, may as well spend the same amount of effort to achieve the most efficiency. Look for legal technology solutions that support all of these efforts - and more.
Ultimately, successful time tracking habits not only ensure accurate billing, but also provide insight to the overall use of your time. And that's where you can push for even more success.