Contemporaneous, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary , means “existing, occurring or originating at the same time.” Applied to the practice of time entry, contemporaneous time entry occurs when time is recorded as a task is being completed. It’s real-time time entry.
Until recently, contemporaneous time entry in the legal field wasn’t practical, or even possible because time entry was confined to the office. Since most attorneys are always on the go spending the majority of their time out of the office at meetings with clients, court dates, or logging hours at home during evenings and weekends, contemporaneous time entry was not a feasible option.
Recently, however, mobile devices have changed the way that we work and have presented new opportunities to increase productivity on the go. Mobile time entry brings timekeeping to the field, allowing legal professionals to enter their time as they finish each client meeting, phone call or task by dictating or entering time into an app on your smartphone.
Why not just save it for later? You could. And, that’s probably what you’ve been doing up until this point. Contemporaneous time entry contrasts with reconstructive time entry, which occurs when time is calculated using historical data such as calendars, phone logs and emails. However, there is a growing body of research that suggests that reconstructive time entry is less accurate and takes more time to complete than contemporaneous time entry. We explore this and other benefits of time entry below.
Benefits of Contemporaneous Time Entry
- Allows you to work the way you work. You’ve just finished a meeting at a restaurant? Great. You’re on the subway, catching up on emails? Awesome. The beauty of mobile time entry is that it right there with you, wherever you are and whatever you are doing. As you take advantage of small chunks of time here and there to get things done, you can make record that time right away. Instead of time entry being an extra “thing” that you have to worry about, you can keep it under control as you go throughout your day.
- Save time by avoiding reconstructive time entry. Anyone who has ever conducted reconstructive time entry knows that it is a pain in the...ahem...loafers. Digging through emails, phone logs and pouring through your outlook calendar is boring and stressful - especially when there are several other more important things that you could be doing with that time.
- Become more accurate with timekeeping so that you don’t leave money on the table. When you record your time as you complete a task, the time that it took you to complete the task is fresh in your mind. As time goes on, remembering the amount of time that it took to complete that task becomes more of an estimate or a guess. In fact, according to Attorneys at Work, attorneys who enter time on a monthly basis can lose up to 55 to 70 percent of their time. That’s a lot of time that isn’t being billed, which can leave a lasting mark on revenue over the course of a year. On the other hand, firms that keep contemporaneous time tend to generate 25 to 40 percent higher revenues than firms that do not keep contemporaneous time. This is a real incentive to improve!
- It will become a habit: Once you start realizing the benefits of entering your time contemporaneously anywhere you are, it will become the new normal, and even something you can enjoy and take pride in!
Have you practiced contemporaneous time entry in your firm? Share your experience in the comments section below.