Time Management, Down to Minutes

timemanagementReader M writes in with a question about time management and billing fun…

There was a discussion a few weeks ago regarding timekeeping methods for those of us enslaved to the billable hour. I would LOVE to see a whole post on this. It’s been a hot topic among the associates at my small firm lately, particularly with the increased scrutiny our bills are getting from clients in the late economic times. What do people use to keep time? How efficient are people? Am I normal to have to spend 10 hours in the office to bill 8, or does that mean (a) I need to stop messing around so much (I’m looking at you, online shopping and Corporette threads!), or (b) I need to bill more aggressively? Any helpful tips on being descriptive in bills (5.9 hours for “organizing files”??)?

Tough question, and I’m very curious to see what the readers have to say.  I remember being told, as a summer associate (many moons ago and in a very different environment than we find ourselves today) that “everyone bills differently — some people get that flash of brilliance on a case in the middle of the night, or in the shower.”  (Um, for the record, I never billed any time for showers or middle-of-the-night-tossing-and-turning — not that work thoughts didn’t ever intrude on “private” time.)  (Pictured: Pocket Watch Clock, originally uploaded to Flickr by Svadilfari.) I’ll also point out that it varies from client to client — some prefer you to bill in quarter hours, others in tenths of the hour; some will let you get away with “Drafted brief” as your description; others will want “Researched and wrote section of brief on copyrightability.” [Read more...]