Chrometa Review: “If You Keep Time… You Have To See Chrometa.”

This Chrometa review was originally published in the February/March issue of the MicroLaw Tech Review Newsletter by paid-up Chrometa user Sheryn Bruehl. You can subscribe to their excellent newsletter here.

“If you keep time…you have to see Chrometa.

Sheryn’s Take:

(This isn’t Sheryn)

I hate keeping time. I’m bad at it. Really, really bad at it. And I’m busy. All the time.  I get to the end of most days wondering how it could possibly be stupid-o’clock already, with only the barest idea of where it all went.

I found Chrometa at Chicago LegalTech last year and put it on my list of “things to review one day.” I’ve recommended a few  people take a look at it, but not really advocated one way or another. And then I actually tried it.

Recently I committed to track my time — all my time — for awhile, and knew I was going to need help. I signed up for the Chrometa trial, downloaded the app, and promptly ignored it for the better part of a week (other than dismissing the pop-up messages asking if I wanted to log my “away” time).

What I found was stunning. 

Chrometa runs in the background while you work on your computer, recording everything you do. It follows your screen focus, so it knows every minute you spend on each of the webpages, documents and emails you have open. It records the URL and title of the webpage or document, the subject of the email…and if you download the Outlook Utility, it will even give you the to/from information…minute to minute, every minute of the day (unless you tell it otherwise).  If your mouse and keyboard goes quiet for awhile, Chrometa asks if you’ve been off doing something you want to log, and makes it easy to make a note and assign it to a client or project if you want.

When you go back to look at the app at the end of the day, everything is neatly categorized by program (Chrome, Outlook, Word, etc.) on a summary tab or a time-line tab, divided by hour.  If you’re also using it on your phone or another PC, you can see those too.

It was intimidating to see hundreds of entries that first time, after ignoring it for days.But I quickly figured out how to use the simple sorting rules, and by the end of the next week I had most of my time sorting itself by project — because Chrometa “knows” much of what I am doing by the name of the website, parties to emails, or document titles.

The real proof came the very first week I did reporting. It took me a VERY long time to sort through a whole week of roughly ten hour days, not having made many (or any) rules yet…and not having written a single thing down all week. By the time I finished, I had a lot of new rules, and … 49 hours of clearly accounted for time.

Granted, it was a long and busy week, but I’d sat down thinking I’d barely be able to account for 25-30 hours that I could recall. There is no question in my mind that at least 25% of my time would have “disappeared” without Chrometa.  (Also…I’ve learned that I spend entirely too much time reading the news.)

If you keep time…especially if you’re bad at it…give Chrometa the 30 day trial.You can use it on a PC, a Mac, and Android devices (but not, apparently, an iPhone because Apple application restrictions). It integrates with Clio, Rocketmatter, Box.com, among others, and appears to have beta integration with QuickBooks, PCLaw, Timeslips, Google Calendar, and (rumor has it) PracticeMaster. I installed it for a Clio client recently, and it quickly brought down all the clients and matters and started sorting tasks rather neatly. I think he’s going to love it.

Chrometa is $12/month for a basic version, $19 if you want to integrate with your practice manager and/or use more than one device. $29 if you have a lot of devices. But give it the free 30 day trial. You’ll know what it’s worth to you by then.

(Fair disclosure: MicroLaw is a Chrometa affiliate. I pay for my own subscription in full–it’s well worth it.)

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