Time is a precious commodity. In another blog post I wrote about how lost billable time could be costing you upwards of 50,000 dollars a year. Tracking your time wrong is expensive, and worse, inefficient time tracking could lead to wasting time that you could have spent making memories with family and friends or otherwise engaging in the more important things of life. In other words, tracking time properly should be a priority.
The most accurate way to track time, and the way endorsed by the American Bar Association for lawyers and other professionals, is contemporaneous time tracking. That means that you track your time as you are spending it. Not at the end of the day, not at the end of the month, but while you are working.
Now, historically this has not been realistic. Unless you spent all your work time in one office with full access to your time sheets, it was impossible to constantly track your time. A lot of people get out, go to meetings, take business trips, work at home, etc… Not only that, but it was not practical. Spending three minutes getting in and out of a time sheet to track the three minutes it took you to check an email just doesn’t make sense.
However, in recent years technology has made contemporaneous time tracking easy. Through simple time tracking apps on your mobile devices (like Hours, woot woot!), you have the freedom to stop and start timers whenever and wherever you are, and it takes barely any time at all. The benefits can help you:
- Save money. As the mass bar association explains: “Say you bill at an hourly rate of $300. Missing a mere six minutes a day decreases your bottom line by about $30 a day, resulting in a total loss of approximately $7,500 a year”. In other words, small lost bits of billable time add up quickly.
- Save time. You won’t have to waste time reconstructing your hours at the end of the day or month. Time tracking at the tap of a button is easy, you don’t even have to think about it. Eventually tracking your time becomes a habit that seamlessly integrates with your workflow.
- Save your morals. You won’t have to reconstruct time anymore and possibly overcharge clients.
- Work flexibly. If you write emails best on the subway or in the middle of the night, you no longer have to limit yourself to a 9-5 work day. If you get into the habit of tracking contemporaneously, you can work whenever and wherever you want without hassle.
- Stay focused. Having a timer ticking while you work makes you more aware of yourself and your time, which in turn makes you more productive.
Without wasting time or money, you can now track your time effortlessly and ethically. There really is no excuse to not track time contemporaneously.