Happy New Year Everyone!
Earlier this week, a blog post I wrote was featured on the American Bar Association’s Law Technology Today blog. For my first blog post of 2015, I would like to share this post with you. This post is unlike other content I tend to post here because it is meant for an audience of other solo practitioners or freelancers. The full text of the post is duplicated below, and is also available at the ABA’s Law Technology Today blog.
Google Calendars as a Timekeeping Tool
I am building a solo practice as part of an incubator program and, as such, my bottom line is crucial. In order to succeed, I have to be careful about the money that comes in as well as the money that goes back out. Therefore, when I first launched my practice, I knew it was important to optimize my income by using reliable and accurate timekeeping practices, but I also knew that I needed to find a system that was not unnecessarily expensive. This led me to develop a system to track my time using Google Calendar.
My system is incredibly simple: I created a separate calendar in my Google account called “Law Office Billing.” I log any billable work on that calendar by creating an event that corresponds to the date and time worked. I use the Event Name field to track which client the work was for and the description filed to track exactly what work was completed during that time.
When it is time to invoice my clients, I log into Google Calendar and view my Law Office Billing calendar in agenda view so that I can easily enter the information into Quickbooks.
I have developed several tweaks to this system since I have started using it. For example, I color code each event to correspond with my invoicing practices—events are red, yellow, or green depending on whether the corresponding invoice has been sent and/or paid. I search for a client’s name in order to view billable time for only that client. I use the Duplicate Event command to copy events such as hearings and court dates from my personal calendar to my billing calendar. I generate a timesheet each month and save it in .PDF format by printing the agenda view of my calendar and the accompanying event descriptions to a .PDF file.
This has been a perfect solution for me. It’s cloud-based so I can access my time sheet and log my time whether I am working from home, from the office, or from the coffee shop down the road. It’s flexible and easy to use. It takes only a matter seconds to log my time so it is not overly cumbersome. I can access my calendar on any computer including my smart phone. And, it’s completely free to use.
I hope this advice is helpful to those of you building a practice on a shoestring budget. Good luck!