If you haven’t read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by best-selling author, Stephen Covey, you’ve at least heard of it. Covey sold over 20 million copies (in 38 languages!) of the famous book, which remains one of the best selling business books of all time. This inspired many other titles of the same theme – kids, marketers, programmers and even law firm rainmakers. At this point, just about everyone is highly effective. Everyone, well, except timekeepers.
It is no secret that this blog serves as an outlet for our passion for law firm best practices. While we have blogged about the importance of timekeeping for law firms and its impact on revenue and profits, we’d like to make our contribution to the 7 Habits ecosystem.
#1: Be contemporaneous.
Contemporaneous time entry is the cornerstone of effectiveness in timekeeping. Entering time as the task is completed not only prevents time-consuming and inconvenient reconstructive time entry. It also increases timekeeping accuracy, as the timekeeper is much more likely to have a realistic assessment of how long a task took to complete, immediately after finishing that task.
#2: Begin with the end-goal in mind.
Yes, timekeeping can be a bit of an annoyance when you are thinking about how to manage your caseload and win new business. That’s why it is important to understand the overall goal of keeping time. Timekeeping is important for the firm to get paid, yes; however, it’s not just about that. Timekeeping is important for the firm’s financials and projections and sets the stage for billing accuracy, which can play into client satisfaction and loyalty.
#3: Put your firm (and its clients) first.
Your time records serve as an additional layer of communication between you and your clients. When a time entry deadline is looming, attorneys can be found rolling their eyes and huffing “I don’t have time.” Not that you would be guilty of this, of course. However, it is important to honor this process for the benefit of the firm and your clients.
#4: Adopt a win-win approach.
When attorneys are disciplined about entering their time, it not only benefits the individual, but also the practice group and the firm. This can make a big difference to the firm’s bottom line, and it also sends a message to the firm’s management that they are valued and respected.
#5: Teach by example.
As you begin to experience the benefits of contemporaneous time entry, don’t be shy about sharing your success with other attorneys. The more attorneys that embrace contemporaneous time entry, the better the firm’s financial performance.
#6: Prioritize compliance.
Billing accuracy is the key to shortening payment cycles and maintaining client relationships and loyalty. However, maintaining compliance with client payment terms is best managed by the attorney. Attorneys are empowered to control this process when they are conducting mobile time entry. When compliance is the focus, everyone wins.
#7: Take it one day at a time.
Shifting to contemporaneous and disciplined time entry means changing your habits. It can take time, and you might not be perfectly consistent right out of the gate. Don’t beat yourself up. Be sure to keep going and strive to do your very best, taking it one day at a time. The most important thing to do is to keep going. So, if you fall off track, don’t give up.
In your opinion, what are the habits of the most highly effective timekeepers? Add your thoughts to our list in the comments section below.