In 2017, let’s make “passive” timekeeping work in your favor. Here are five Chrometa features you can take advantage of to capture 20% or more hours – while actually working less – thanks to the best time tracking software for 2017.
Our Timeline view is a play-by-play recording, down to the minute, of every piece of work you’ve done on every device (computer or smartphone) through the workday. By request, you can now view your Timeline over multiple days:
Every Minute of the Day, With Details
Great – but how do we turn this amazing level of detail into something we can put on a Timesheet?
#2: Select a Block of Time
Here’s a shortcut that will let you sweep multiple minutes of time into one time block quickly. If you were jumping around between applications (such as email and Word) but really working on the same task, this is a good trick to help you group everything.
Left-click the first entry you want to bucket. Then hold down the Shiftkey while you scroll down and select the last entry in your task – and everything in between will be highlighted for you.
Use Shift + Left-Click to Select Consecutive Entries
Now let’s get these combined, rounded up and assigned to a client and project.
#3: Autocomplete in Move to Project
Towards the top of your screen, there is a big blue button that says Move To Project. Click this to access your Client and Project list.
Then you can just start typing the name of the Client or Project you’re looking for in the active search window that appears. Your list will be filtered down as you type, so that you can quickly find the project you want to assign this block of time to.
Use Active Search to Filter Your Project List
You can select the Project to move and group these entries at the same time. Or, you can take advantage of the & Annotate shortcut.
#4: Annotate While You Move to Project
As you mouse over your Project name, you’ll see two mouseover buttons appear toward the right side. The left button is an & Annotate shortcut that lets you assign an annotation as you specify the project.
The “& Annotate” Shortcut
Think of an Annotation as the translation from the computer-speak that Chrometa captures to the human-speak that you will place on your Timesheet. You’ll specify this using the popup that appears next:
Categorize And Annotate Popup
#5: Back To Summary, or Export
Remember those jumbled 13 minutes of computer time? They are now a concise 18-minute (or .3) time entry on my Timesheet:
Ready for Export
This time entry is now on your Timesheet, ready for invoice or export! Your client will never guess that you created it with a few clicks of the mouse.
If you’re export to another billing, practice management or accounting system (such as Clio, CosmoLex, QuickBooks Online, etc) this entry will show up as if you created it directly in that system manually.
This 5-step time entry sweet will become faster and faster as you get the hang of things. If you have questions, or would like to take advantage of our complimentary 1:1 training sessions, please let me know.
Nicole is a lawyer. At 0600 sharp, she rolls out of bed and checks her smartphone. She discovers dozens of emails directed at her and team members, which apparently came in between 0100 and 0600. Nicole opts to reply to a handful of the most important, and then heads to the gym.
At the gym, she receives several call requests from clients prompting her to abandon her workout early.
At 0800, she arrives at her office, and asks assistants to print a few documents. She prints some herself to save time, and then conducts her first call at 0900.
During the call, she emails another client for information about their future call, and she also reviews multiple emails that come in. She starts another call at 1000, and IMs with colleagues during the call. Another colleague joins her on this call to observe.
She responds to more emails and also marks documents during her 1000 call, and after the call, she reviews key points with her colleague.
At 1130, Nicole marks more documents, and answers frequent short calls from clients. She finally manages to grab lunch at 1400, and continues reviewing documents and responding to emails during lunch. She hops on two calls at 1600 and 1730, and a client shows up at her office at 1800 to discuss a document review. Her day continues with similar tasks and communications, and concludes with a handful of necessary submissions at 0100.
The Importance of Timekeeping
The scenario above describes an average day, and a lawyer’s average day clearly does not afford attention to timekeeping. However, timekeeping remains a critical aspect of practice for many reasons:
Billing and Project Management – Not only do you need to account for services, but you also need to accurately quantify and qualify them. This aids in the overall process, and managing the financial aspects of service delivery.
Talent, Revenue, and Growth Management – Timekeeping provides a window into productivity and the effectiveness of current strategies and procedures. This valuable insight drives organization growth and professional development.
Transparency – The heavy influence of transparency on client satisfaction means it can fuel a project, or destroy it.
When timekeeping practices fall short of standards, they infect an organization and force it to constantly balance against associated losses and inaccuracies.
The Impact of Bad Timekeeping
Some estimate that less than 40% of lawyers utilize contemporaneous timekeeping solutions, and even worse, most clearly reconstruct time when preparing timesheets. Memory obviously does not serve as a potent means of capturing billable time, and the burden of delaying timekeeping creates a substantial workload.
Billable time lost to poor and sluggish recording can result in staggering losses. An Altman Weil study reveals legal professionals lose approximately 1/10 of their time when using end-of-day records. It also shows a 4-hour loss for end-of-week records, and 15-hour loss for end-of-month. Over a year, this causes a loss of 170 to 200 hours per lawyer.
Beyond substantial revenue leakage, the absence of this labor data obscures two important industry metrics:
The time required to complete a project compared to client expectations
The cost of a project compared to client budget or expectations
Financial and operational losses may pale in comparison to the effect of poor timekeeping on the client relationship. The lack of transparency and accurate records destroys the organization’s ability to leverage that information in maintaining client satisfaction. This includes not just standard records, but the level of detail employed in timekeeping. The deficiency leaves both clients and professionals frustrated because clients do not know the path to completion, and professionals do not engage clients. This leads to various problems over the course of a project, and less trust in a long-term relationship.
The Disadvantages of Common Timekeeping Solutions
The main problem in timekeeping remains archaic and exclusively active records. Beyond their inaccuracies, they damage productivity almost as much as poor billing hurts revenue. Lawyers find themselves spending far too much time performing minor administrative tasks instead of actually doing their job.
Another problem stems from the use of underdeveloped solutions. These solutions, unlike most of the best timekeeping software for lawyers, lack attention to the details of modern law practice and business. They fail to address all aspects of technology use or all qualities of practice:
Some may neglect mobile accommodation or the specific way users employ multiple applications in their role.
Some merely provide a digital version of traditional records systems, and still force the user to perform problematic tasks.
Some even quarantine timekeeping in a particular OS or device.
User compliance presents another challenge because many lawyers detest using these tools. When so many tools get in the way, it’s easy to see why.
Finding a Solution
Our smart solution acts as a personal assistant. It adapts to your needs, and continues to evolve with the goals of both richer sophistication and providing the best timekeeping software for lawyers. Enjoy not just automation of timekeeping, but also device and system mobility, protection of sensitive information, customization, granular records, and flexibility.
Chrometa passively captures time across platforms whether a PC, iPhone, Mac, or Android device. Its capture documents every minute of work time, and every quality of use. This includes granular focus like time spent reviewing an email, its sender or recipient, and its subject. It will capture the call you step away to make, or the time you spend away from your desk.
It maintains this high level of capture detail regardless of how frequently you switch applications or systems. You never need to interrupt your work rhythm and close an application, or stop to note an activity.
Employ Chrometa’s keyword-based rules for precision. Through simple tags, you set it to assign entries to specific clients, projects, or tasks.
It offers seamless integration to give you the confidence of recording everything as you switch devices, applications, and platforms. Integration also extends into one-click import/export compatibility with popular law firm management applications and other common solutions; for example, PCLaw, Clio, QuickBooks, and much more. You work totally unrestricted by solution ecosystems or proprietary technology.
Chrometa includes many other wonderful features for versatility and simplifying the timekeeping process (e.g., invoicing, and entries through email). Experience the Chrometa advantage today through our 30-day free trial.
At a time when jewelers primarily made and repaired timepieces, jeweler Willard Bundy developed a solution that grew rapidly – the time clock. The timeclock and timesheet eventually became business standards in tracking billable/paid hours. However, these tedious and error-prone instruments lost their utility when cheap computers entered industry and small business. Computer use began the evolution of all aspects of business including time-tracking.
Microsoft Windows’ entry made technology more accessible, but its Office suite aligned organizations and powered business in a way no other set of tools achieved. Office’s Excel served as major time-tracking software Windows users relied on. Its design exploited 80s predecessors and Microsoft’s vision in pairing digital data with ease-of-use.
Tailored time-tracking solutions emerged with the explosion of IT across sectors. The combination of internet’s market penetration, falling technology prices, and rising technology power made IT critical and irresistible to competitive organizations. These purpose-built solutions offered impressive options and configurations whether standalone, plugins, or built-in functionalities of systems.
The next generation of time-tracking tools promises the power of IoT. They go beyond your typical screen capture and timers into precise, omnipresent technology acting as an assistant (or manager).
The Importance of Time-Tracking
The time-tracking software Windows users employ may seem like common tools for routine administrative tasks, but related problems can devastate businesses. Harvard Business Review reveals insufficient tracking costs the US economy an estimated 50 million hours in losses, or a daily loss of over $7 billion. Part of this comes from simple tasks like email, which a survey shows results in a yearly loss of $50,000 per worker. Many organizations battle this issue, but many remain totally unaware. They work harder and longer without proper compensation, or without knowledge of leak impact.
Fortunately, many have isolated the problems in time-tracking requiring the most attention. Any viable solutions address these areas and their effect on operations and business:
Reliability – Accurate and consistent tracking records are required for financial reporting, employee compensation, financial management, and much more.
Human Error – Manual data entry introduces high risk of serious errors, so systems must avoid it as much as possible.
Productivity – Records must accurately reflect employee activities in order to present a clear picture of resource use.
Fraud – Systems need mechanisms to protect against fraud or exploits in records and tracking.
Automation – Manual data entry slows productivity to a crawl, so automation is of course preferred.
Transparency and Optimization – Records must reveal all activities performed, resources used, and locations employed. This aids in compliance, project management, operations, and other aspects of business. It also offers deep insight, and reveals opportunities for growth and improvement.
Corrections – Records cannot avoid errors, but system management of them must avoid excessive lag and provide proper access.
Alignment – A system must integrate seamlessly with organizational procedures and existing IT infrastructure.
A Powerful Solution
Though many strong options with rich features exist, many time-tracking solutions suffer from fundamental problems. The biggest issues are ease-of-use and active use. Most of the time-tracking software Windows users employ simply gets in the way, or proves overly involved to use. An ideal tool quietly observes and records activities without interfering, weighing your system down, or requiring heavy intervention. Another major issue in time-tracking is the lack of sophistication. Better tools perform smart time-tracking. They not only record, but also precisely interpret and predict.
Our smart solution Chrometa passively captures time on a PC, Mac, iPhone, or Android device. Its capture documents every minute of your work time, and addresses all qualities of device and system use. This includes granular focus like time spent on a single email, its subject line, and its sender or target. It could also mean the name of an active file and its application, or the URL of a website and its title.
Note that Chrometa only captures information on the active task, regardless of how much you switch. On an idle mouse and keyboard, it triggers a prompt for intervention. This design allows you to optimize your work rhythm while still maintaining accurate records.
Chrometa timesheets offer the accuracy of keyword-based rules. You simply set it to assign entries to specific clients and projects, and then you enjoy robust precision when tracking multiple projects.
It also delivers seamless integration for capture across devices. This means you can switch devices comfortably with the confidence that it recordseverything. Strong integration also supports exports to multiple applications; for example, QuickBooks, Xero, Freshbooks, and Clio. You work unrestricted by system ecosystems or proprietary technology, and integrate in whatever infrastructure you prefer.
Chrometa includes many other competitive features like professional invoices and time entry creation through email. Leverage the Chrometa advantage today by exploring our solution in a 30-day free trial.
Version 5 of our passive timekeeping software is ready for you to use. We’d love to hear what you think – it’s our biggest revamp of the main web interface since 2012 (yeah time really does fly).
You can upgrade to the latest release by going to Account – General – Change Version. That’ll flip your interface over to “v5.”
If you decide you’re not ready for it yet, you can flip back. But we’d love to get you using the new release so that we can start receiving feedback and prioritize new features accordingly.
What’s New in v5
The interface is the big overhaul. We now have the navigation on the left, so that you can single-click directly into any other area of the product.
The time capture display is a bit bigger. We still capture and display time the same way (down to the minute… actually down to the second but rounded up to the minute with a fancy algorithm).
Our big goal with the new release is to help speed up the categorization of time entries. We capture a lot of stuff – getting it all onto a timesheet can be challenging, we know.
To that end, we have a new rules preview feature that will give you a look at how the rule will bucket time before you implement it. Gmail users, this will look familiar to you if you make use of Gmail’s filters.
Going forward, now that the interface is ready, we will be looking at more ways to speed up timesheet creation. We’d love to hear from you on this front especially. Which brings me to my next point…
Help Suggest & Prioritize Features
We setup a dedicated v5 feature forum discussion in our Zendesk help desk software. You can access the forum here.
Remember those feature requests you’ve mentioned to us before? Please be sure to post them here after you check out the new interface.
You can also “vote up” features that you like the best. This will help us prioritize our development – whatever gets the most votes will get worked on next.
How To Get Started
As I mentioned earlier, current Chrometa users can go to Account – General – Change Version to upgrade to v5.
If you’re not yet a Chrometa user, or you were in the past, you can restart your 30-day free trial right here. And then follow the step above to upgrade from v4 to v5.
Questions? Suggestions? Need a trial reset? Please reply to this email so that we can help.
I’ll demo phone call and text message capture live on this Friday’s webinar.
Dedicated Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, and Mac Mail Support
In addition to our Gmail for smartphone support, we still offer dedicated time capture for Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, and Mac Mail from your computer. This means you’ll get the To/From/CC info of each email, along with the Subject Line.
And Mac Mail users don’t need to do anything – your plugin is already baked into our Mac Time Tracker.
Keyword-Based Rules for “Automatic” Time Entry Assignment
With keyword-based rules, you can “teach” Chrometa how to create most of your Timesheet for you each day. Which means you’ll only need to do some quick cleanup and annotations…resulting in the most comprehensive and accurate timesheet you’ve ever created.
Join Me (and LexisNexis) This Friday – I Promise to Educate and Entertain
We’re launching our new integration with LexisNexis’ Time Matters product this Friday. Please join us, and I promise to show you a Chrometa tip or trick that you didn’t know before (and if not, your money back…)
Our Time Matters integration works like our other integrations – so the demo should benefit you no matter what system you’re connecting Chrometa to.
Enter your Chrometa login email and password one more time to make the connection between Gmail and Chrometa.
You’ll Now See Mobile Gmail Time Tracked in Chrometa!
By default, we’ll assign a 2-minute duration to each email you read and each email you compose from your phone. You can adjust this default setting under Account – Integrations – Gmail for Smartphones.
You’ll now see your “on the go” emails ported in under your mobile device (iPhone, Android, or other). As with our PC and Mac-based Gmail tracking, you’ll get the Subject Line of the email, along with the email address of the folk(s) in the To, From, and CC lines.
You can annotate these entries and assign them to clients and projects (or matters). You can also have our keyword-based rules engine do this categorization automatically for you. For example, you can tell Chrometa that all of your emails from a certain email address or certain domain should always go to a specific project (or matter).
Join Us for a January Webinar We’re Co-Hosting With LexisNexis
How to connect Chrometa with Time Matters (and soon PCLaw and Juris) with a single-click…
The latest Chrometa features and tips and tricks for capturing time and categorizing it quickly…
Mobile Gmail setup, of course…
Here’s the link to register. If you can’t make the live session, sign up any way so that we can email you the recording afterwards. (Though I’d recommend attending live if you can, so that I can demo any specific features you’d like to see – just ask during our Q&A).
You’ll export your Clients, Projects, and Tasks from FreshBooks into Chrometa.
Within Chrometa, you’ll create your timesheet based on the time entries that you capture passively from all of your devices.
You can assign these time entries to FreshBooks Projects and Tasks within Chrometa itself.
When you’ve completed your Timesheet within Chrometa, you can export all of your time entries back to FreshBooks. They’ll look like time entries that you created in FreshBooks itself, with the annotations in Chrometa becoming the notes in FreshBooks.
Need a new 30-day free trial to test this integration? Just click here to get started with our “100% passive” FreshBooks time tracking app:
Are you heading to ClioCon next week? If so, look for me (Brett) at our booth! And if you’re still on the fence about going, here’s a discount offer from our friends at Clio…
Through our partnership with Clio, we are bringing to our customers a special VIP promotion to the Clio Cloud Conference.
The Clio Cloud Conference is an annual conference designed to educate and inspire legal firms in today’s tech-driven landscape. Clio is bringing together some of the nation’s best and brightest from the legal, business, and technology worlds from October 19 – 20 in Chicago to provide an educational and thought-provoking conference that’s second to none.
Clio is the world’s leading legal practice management software that acts as an essential assistant, helping you grow your practice and simplify your operations.
Clio is offering you an exclusive discount on the current ticket price. Register today using the code PromoSave100 to save $100 off the conference pass.
PS – Still looking to integrate Chrometa with Clio? Sign up for a complimentary 1:1 training session and we’ll help you get everything hooked up. Clio time management has never been easier. And be sure to check out this recent webcast demo that we co-hosted with Clio as well:
We now provide complimentary 1:1 training sessions for all Chrometa users, whether you’re a current subscriber or still on our 30-day free trial. Sign up for a session today and we’ll show you helpful tips and tricks for getting the best use out of Chrometa – so that you can capture your time more quickly and accurately than ever before.
If you’re an attorney looking to track your time and/or integrate Chrometa with your accounting and/or practice management system, we especially recommend signing up for a 1:1 attorney time tracking training.