Automatic Time Tracking

How long are you spending each day on email? With guest blogger Janis Donnelly-Coode

Depending on which set of statistics you look at, you are spending far too much time managing your emails. It is so ubiquitous that it is a running joke within the legal industry.

Depending on which set of statistics you look at, you are spending far too much time managing your emails. It is so ubiquitous that it is a running joke within the legal industry.

​Some of those numbers include:

  • Office workers receive at least 200 messages a day and spend about two-and-a-half hours reading and replying to emails - Forbes.com
  • The average person checks their email upwards of seventy times per day - HBR.com
  • Combine unn​ecessary emails with commuting and meetings, and you are apparently spending 51% of your workday on these three tasks alone -inc.com


I think we can all agree that Australian lawyers specifically deal with far too many emails. To be fair it isn't just a problem for lawyers, or family lawyers, but for most professionals. This site even gives you a calculator to figure out how much time you are spending on emails.

Why does it matter?

The major reason it matters is because you cannot address a problem if you do not know it is a problem. We work in a stressful industry, and while you should be looking at the large structural stressors those are hard to change. What many people forget to look at is the small repetitive issues, which are easier to reduce. It isn't just a question of saving time to focus on income-producing work, there is also the issue of your stress levels.  

You should start by looking at how many emails you send and receive in a day. Microsoft Office tells you how many emails you are sending and receiving on average over two weeks. Now assign a minute to each email. Does that number seem large to you? Is the two and a half hours I mentioned at the beginning of the article beginning to make sense?

If you want to assure yourself that this is important, go and look at yesterday’s time recording. How many emails are included in your time recording? A dozen? Do you know how many of those 200 emails you send and receive relate to files, and how many of those emails are ‘non-fee earning’? Don’t you think that is something you should know?

Your data is important.

In my experience, most firms are time costing, not time recording. Take a look at this graph, taken from a firm using Smokeball automatic time tracking at the same time as they were manually recording their time.

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​Now we all know what that red line is right? That red line is everybody making budget. The dips are caused by people taking time off over Christmas and January. What if you were recording the blue line?  

Use your own data

There is so much information out there about how your business can save time, improve their workflow, reduce bottlenecks, or choose their ‘ideal client’. You know what, this is all information that you should be able to answer yourself from your own data. Don’t take someone else’s word for it, have actual data about your own firm that you can use to choose what automation you need, what parts of the workflow need revisiting, and what types of matters you want to spend your marketing time or money pursuing.

We have a webinar coming up on Thursday 28 July 2020 from 12:30 – 1:30pm about time recording, it is free to attend and this is one of the issues we will be covering. You probably know that you should be time recording instead of time costing, but what should you record, and how, and do you have the time or the energy to do all of that anyway?

​​We know that family law, in particular, is a stressful part of our industry. We want to talk with you about the difficulties that you have, and some ways to better measure that so you can improve it. We want to talk to you about changing what you are recording, not how long you are spending recording it. Then you can address issues like how much time you are investing in emails because you will see from your own data what problems you need to address first.

Dealing with your emails

Do you want to get started dealing with your emails now? Did you go and count your emails (like I suggested above) and you don’t want to wait until 28 July to fix it. Sign up for this mailing list to get our five blog posts about your inbox, what some of the problems are and how you can start solving them.

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Contact us to see how our automatic time tracking combined with best in class legal productivity software will transform your law practice.

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