How time tracking can help you manage your time more effectively
Summer is no longer a season of ramped up productivity and squirrelling away provisions. For many of us, it’s the time of year we take a hard-earned break. For lawyers, it’s the best time to reflect on work habits to improve productivity and efficiency before the next performance review rolls around. Your summer break is accompanied by a drop in your billable hours, so you’ll want to return to work refreshed and ready to chip away at the deficit.
Our simple three step process will help you use the insights from your time tracking reports to manage your time more effectively:
Step 1: Track All Your Time
There are endless benefits to tracking all of your time at work, including your non-billable hours. At the firm-level, these hours can inform staffing decisions and provide crucial insights that can determine whether investments in legal tech are likely to pay off. On a personal level, this information can help you become a more productive lawyer.
For the first step, you simply have to track all your time. If you haven’t traditionally tracked your non-billable hours, you’ll need to spend at least a week doing this before moving onto the next step. You should also keep track of the hours you spend at work each day. Write them on a calendar you can refer to when you’re compare the hours you’ve tracked with the hours spent at work.
Only once you’ve reached a healthy equilibrium between the hours tracked and the hours worked will you be in a position to assess the quality of that time.
Step 2: Conduct a Time Audit
Take a look at the hours you’re spending at work and determine where you might be losing billable hours and where your inefficiencies lie. Asking yourself these questions will help you find and tackle those inefficiencies:
Are there particular hours where I’m less productive each day?
If so, you should reflect on the causes of those drops in productivity. If your productivity suffers during particular hours – social media is a likely culprit. Some employees spend up to 2 work hours each day checking their social media accounts. Also consider the amount of time you spend talking to your colleagues each day and what other distractions you have in and around your office.
Is there a way to delegate non-billable tasks to support staff?
You have a finite number of hours at work each day and a workload that doubtlessly feels infinite. Your time is best spent on the billable tasks that are most profitable to your firm. Identify the non-billable tasks that are filling your weekly time logs and work out what can be delegated. Anything you can delegate, should be delegated.
Are there any tools that could help me with my tasks?
There are an abundance of tools and applications that can streamline and simplify your workload. Consider the biggest time drains on your weekly report and see what (if anything) is available to help you address them.
Step 3: Challenge Yourself to Make Changes
Knowledge is power. Knowing where your time is going gives you the power to make changes to address your inefficiencies. Here our solutions for some of the most common time drains:
If you’re guilty of spending too much time on these time draining sites, challenge yourself to log off during work hours. If that’s too daunting, or if you genuinely need access to social media for your job, turn off all of your notifications. People receive, on average, a notification every 10 minutes. If it takes you, say, 2 minutes each time to respond to the notification and get back on task, you’re still only working for 48 minutes each hour.
Meet with your support staff and come up with a game plan to reduce the amount of time you’re spending on non-billable tasks. Your support team is a resource there for you to use, so be sure to get their insights into what they can manage. Whether it’s a flag system for your inbox so your assistant can do your printing or creating useful templates for emails you frequently send, there are ways for you to reduce your time spent on non-billable tasks.
Use Tools to Help:
The burden of unavoidable tasks, like time tracking, can easily be reduced by legal technologies. For instance, TIQ Time automates time tracking for lawyers – cutting down the amount of time spent on tracking time each day to less than 5 minutes. Freeing up plenty of time for lawyers to focus on billable tasks.
If you want to learn more about what TIQ’s Time Tracking software could do for you, get in touch.