Mastering Time Capture: A New Year’s Guide for Legal Professionals

5 min read

Here’s what you should know about tracking your time.

The start of a new year has arrived, and for legal professionals, that means managing a dual workload of accomplishing your legal matter work while simultaneously ensuring you maintain accurate time tracking. Juggling both these tasks can seem daunting – but keeping accurate time logs is essential to your firm’s profitability. Whether you’re tracking for billable time or checking your time against your fixed-fee projects, accurate time capture is key to determining whether you’re spending too much time on certain projects – and therefore costing your firm money. With the right tools and a dash of motivation, you can master time capture and accomplish all of your matter-specific work without much difficulty. Here are a few strategies you can use to ensure you capture all of your hours this year.

Leverage Technology for Simple Time Capture

In the digital age, technology is your ally. Use time-tracking software or legal practice management tools to record hours seamlessly; you’ll not only streamline your processes, but also reduce your risk of errors in capturing your hours.

For example, you could use a time tracker application like Timely or Harvest. Time tracking software suites like these make manual time tracking a thing of the past by automatically recording your time spent in various web and desktop apps. You can even track projects, monitor budgets, or track how teams are using their time. By capturing every second of your workday, time tracking software prevents hours from escaping you. 

Plus, these time trackers offer a variety of integrations with project management systems, email programs, billing software, and more – making time tracking across applications a breeze. Best of all, these software suites make it possible to document in real time, rather than having to rely on your memory later – which means more accurate time tracking and a reduced risk of forgetting trackable (billing or not) activities.

Many of these time trackers even offer mobile apps, enabling you to track your time and record hours when you’re away from your desk. You can use waiting periods or short breaks to update your time entries, so your time log is always accurate.

Set Daily Goals for Billable Hours

Tracking your time is one thing; making sure you stay on track to hit your billable hour goals is another. Your firm likely has a billable/non-billable ratio that it wants you to target; if you want to set yourself up to hit that goal by year-end, then you’ll want to start by breaking your billable hour target down into daily goals. When you know exactly how many billable hours you need to capture every day, it makes task management easier and helps to prevent procrastination.

Manage Your Tasks Appropriately

With the start of the year here, you’ll want to do everything you can to make the most of your time and maximize your working hours. To start, make sure you begin each day listing all of your daily tasks in order of priority. Attending to high-priority tasks first means you’ll have enough time for all work before the day gets busier.

You can also boost your time management skills by batching similar tasks. Group similar tasks together to capitalize on your mental resources and focus. For instance, you could schedule a block of time for document reviews or research.

Finally, it’s essential to ensure you minimize distractions while you’re working on your key tasks. Turn off non-essential notifications, close unrelated tabs, and focus solely on the task at hand – you’ll finish your work faster while ensuring more accurate time tracking.

Time capture can be a chore. But with a few simple habits and some smart tech, you can easily manage all of your tasks while recording your time accurately. Each minute you accurately record contributes to the success of your practice, so stay focused, motivated, and committed to effective time capture.

You work hard. Your technology should work harder. Start your free trial of Appara today to discover how much time you can save on entity management and document production.

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