How to Track Billable Hours: Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices

how to track billable hoursThis question is for the lawyers and others who have to keep track of your time — what are your best tips and tricks on how to track billable hours? If you’re a lawyer who reviews time sheets (either at a firm or in house), we’d love to hear your thoughts on what’s acceptable, what’s NOT acceptable, and what’s a red flag for you… It’s been a while since we’ve discussed time management, so let’s ponder…

Here’s Reader C’s question:

I thought it might be fun to do a post about all things billing. For newer attorneys, or those interested in transitioning from gov’t/etc., it could be really useful to learn the general rules and what more senior attorneys look for on their bills. For others it would be interesting to see tips/tricks for billing, key terms, billing as a way to market to clients and other related things. (E.g., my firm sends out a billing insert of a short article with each month’s bills).

Great question, Reader C! In my experience people tend to fall into two categories here: the obsessive billers who keep track in 6- or 10-minute increments — and the people who will definitely, totally get you those timesheets from six months ago asap. (We’re right on top of it, Rose!) The more cases and billable matters you have to keep track of, the more you have to be the first, obsessive person — whereas if you’re stuck on one never-ending project (doc review, anyone?) you can swing towards the second end of the spectrum.

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Tips for Dealing with Migraines at Work

Migraines at Work: Tips for DealingA migraine striking while you’re hanging out at home is bad enough, but migraines at work are even worse. Not only do you have to deal with debilitating pain and other symptoms, but you have to consider how to handle the situation in a professional way — when all you want to do is go home. Taking a few steps while you’re not in the middle of a migraine can make times like that a little easier. How do you deal with migraines at work? When you have to go home during the workday or call in sick, do you specifically say that you have a migraine? Is your boss usually understanding? 

Psst: We’ve also talked about how to function at work without sleep, how to explain an embarrassing illness (not that migraines should make you embarrassed!), how to handle a client meeting while drugged with cold medicine, and how to handle frequent doctors’ appointments. We’ve also had at least one great reader discussion with advice about migraines.

Here are some tips for how to handle migraines at work:

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Swearing at Work: Yea or Nay?

swearing at workHere’s a fun question for today: are you for or against swearing at work? Do you think less of colleagues and bosses who do it — or does context matter (e.g., you’re only against it if someone is swearing out of anger or swearing around little kids (or older colleagues)?) Or does your vocabulary rival a sailor’s? Do you consider it a measure of closeness, of “being in the club”? (Does anyone do it to prove their mettle — I’m thinking of the characters from the video for parody video Bitch in Business.) What about crass sayings that aren’t quite swearing, such as “oh, he’s just swinging his dick around” — yea or nay? (Haha: any favorite phrases to share?)

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How to Deal with Extreme Coworkers

how to deal with extreme coworkersReaders, what’s your best advice for how to deal with extreme coworkers? We’ve talked about what to do when your boss has it out for you, as well as difficult coworkers who throw temper tantrums, but not in a while — so I asked lawyer/journalist Rebecca Berfanger to offer some advice… – Kat

Have you ever had a coworker or a supervisor who took things to the extreme at work? Maybe she screamed often or threw things, maybe she bragged about how she gave up sleep in order to put in longer hours, maybe she worked every holiday and weekend, or maybe she never took any breaks, not even to leave her desk or eat? Maybe she survived only on lattes? Did this coworker or boss expect you to be equally extreme in order to prove your loyalty to your job or clients? Was it actually an expectation of all coworkers — or just this one?

We’ve talked about difficult coworkers before, but this is more about those who know they are acting extreme and expect you to put up with them, or they believe that to be successful, you must behave in a similar way. If you’ve never had to work with an extreme person at work, consider yourself lucky. Studies have shown that a toxic work environment can cause extreme stress, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

So how can you deal with extreme coworkers?

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Executive Presence for Women Leaders

Executive Presence and How to Get It (Or Fake It) | CorporetteHow would you define “executive presence,” particularly for women? Have you worked to build your executive presence? What are your best executive presence tips? Here are some qualities of women with executive presence that Corporette readers have mentioned during conversations that have taken place in the comments:

  • having a “cool, calm, and commanding” presence
  • being a skilled public speaker
  • appearing put-together (clothes fit well, hair is neatly styled, etc.)
  • seeming “knowledgeable but not a know-it-all”
  • staying cool in a crisis
  • showing confidence
  • having an attitude of “the buck stops with me”

Earlier this year, we discussed new research that showed that looking “put-together” and exhibiting “good grooming” can boost women’s salaries (even more so than being considered attractive), and a couple of years ago we talked about a study that stated wearing more makeup makes women look more competent. Today we’ll go beyond that to take a closer look at executive presence and what it means for women leaders at work. (In the past, we’ve shared posts on imposter syndrome, the difference between confidence and arrogancebeing taken seriously when you look young, and books and resources to help you become a leader and a better manager. We’ve also discussed the book The Confidence Code.)  

According to research from Sylvia Ann Hewlett, the founder and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation, executive presence is composed of “how you act (otherwise known as gravitas, the most important quality), how you communicate, and how you look.” A 2013 Business Insider article describes it with 7 Cs: composure, connection, charisma, confidence, credibility, clarity, and conciseness. Hewlett (whose book we link to below) says that executive presence “accounts for as much as 28 percent of a woman’s success” (!).

These definitions sound straightforward enough, but cultivating executive presence requires women to walk a very fine line, thanks to the maddening contradictory messages we receive about how to act at work. You know: If you don’t ask for a raise, you’re blamed for the gender wage gap, but if you ask for a raise, you’re viewed as “greedy, demanding or just not very nice.” If you act with confidence and strength, you’re “too aggressive” or “a bitch”; if you don’t appear assertive enough, your behavior is interpreted as weakness. (As social psychologist Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson puts it, the typical dichotomy for women is “competent and cold — that’s the bitch — or warm and incompetent — the doormat who no one takes seriously.”) Of course, this predicament extends to physical appearances, too; research shows that women with “unkempt nails” lose executive-presence points but that those with “overly done” nails are also viewed negatively. Faced with this “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” minefield, some women are paying $2,000 to $5,000 to attend special workshops on executive presence.

Putting all of that aside for a moment, here are a few concrete tips on exhibiting executive presence at work:

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Affordable, Easy Office Decor Ideas

easy office decor ideas2017 Update: We still stand by these easy office decor ideas — but you may also want to check out our most recent discussion of the best places to get cute office decor.

Ladies, what are your favorite easy office decor ideas? What’s the first thing you do in any new office, and what ideas would you recommend to summer associates, interns, and others? Decorating your office with cute desk accessories and more can be an essential way to making your workspace happier — and giving yourself more energy. But, if you’re a summer associate, intern, on-site consultant, on a secondment, or any other kind of temporary worker, you don’t want to put in a ton of effort into decorating your desk or office. So what are the top affordable, easy office decor ideas that help you avoid staring at boring blank walls or that ubiquitous cubicle-wall shade of beige-gray-tan?

Obviously, you should make sure not to damage the office in any way, such as leaving behind adhesive residue or accidentally removing paint/drywall when you remove things from the walls. You also won’t want to bring too much stuff, or else by the end of your time there you won’t even want to bring it all home. (Plus, it’s a little weird when a temporary worker looks like they’ve moved in, yes?) So what are the best ideas beyond “colorful tissue box”? (Always an option!) We thought we’d round up some great ideas for cute desk accessories and other simple, fast ways summer associates can decorate their offices.

(Update: as you see in the comments, a lot of readers bristled at the very idea of this post, noting that summer associates or interns should NEVER decorate their office. We’ve updated the post a bit for clarity, but it’s a good reminder to know your office. )

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