Day 11: Paper-Based Time Tracking for Lawyers

Day 11: Paper-Based Time Tracking for Lawyers

Emergent Task Timer for Lawyers The other day someone commented that it would be cool if there was a legal-size 2UP version of the Emergent Task Planner. Since I’ve been making tons of Emergent Task Planner variations, I thought I would save that for another day. However, this got me to thinking about the 8.5×14 legal-size paper. It’s a weird size, but according to Wikipedia is commonly used in law firms in both the UK and US. This sparked another lawyer tidbit I’d heard years ago: lawyers often bill in 6-minute increments instead of 15; I guess if you are charging hundreds of dollars an hour, the 6-minute increment can save your client some money.

I decided to make a lawyer-billing version of another form, the Emergent Task Timer (ETT). This predates the more-popular ETP, and is often used by people who need to see where their time is going in the face of chaos.

How It Works

At the top, you write down your best intentions for the day. Using an interval timer set to beep every 15 minutes, you fill-in a time bubble for what you were doing. If you were doing something else, you fill in a line at the bottom of the list (say, “surfing the net”) and put a bubble there. Over the course of the day, a pattern of interruption and focus develops! Continuous productive lines of bubbles at the top are good! Fragments of time scattered along the bottom are not.

The version for lawyers, dubbed the Emergent Task Timer: Legal Edition, use 6-minute increments instead of 15. I had to significantly reduce the size of the bubbles and stagger them. The first five set of bubbles in an hour are 00-30, and the second five are 30-60. I didn’t bother to put in specific times because I figured if I were a lawyer, I probably would be totally conditioned to think in these terms.

I also made an assumption about the printer: it has to handle legal-sized paper, and it is a high-resolution (600DPI+) laser printer. This design will print well on that, but not so well on cheaper inkjet printers.

This is an interesting product for me because it’s the first that targets a specific professional market. I’m hoping that some feedback comes back from people telling me what I might do to sell and market it, or if it is even a viable product. Anyway, here’s the download:

» Download 2013 Legal 6-Minute Time Tracker

Adobe Acrobat Reader is recommended for printing. The built-in "Mac OS X Preview" and "Chrome Browser" PDF viewers do not always draw dotted lines correctly.


Groundhog Day Resolution Posts for 2014

I am challenging myself to create a new product every day for the month of February 2013. The Challenge Page lists all the products in one place. Check it out!


  1. & 11 years ago

    Looks cool! I’ll certainly pass this along to my lawyer significant other.

    Thinking about my own work life, what would be really useful? A call log. Trying to remember who called me when last week is impossible, but it’s a great reference to have. Cell phones automatically keep the time and length of call, but my desk phone – sadly – does not.

  2. Jack 11 years ago

    If some prefers an app to do all of that there is online time tracker.

    It is successfully used by lawyers and other consultants.

    First, you can simply start/stop time counter with a button so switching between tasks is trivial and natural – just one click.

    Second, it stores time in minutes and shows 6 minutes intervals in the reports if wanted – no need for manual conversion.

    Third, it support minimum number of intervals.

    Maybe someone will find it useful:

  3. Kevin Peter 9 years ago

    The success of a legal firm lies in the time tracked :) Amount of time allotted for each client matters the most, and be self productive. Excellent choices mask these people with the technology improved. Un-interrupted clear goals, ahead of timeline with every stuff having deadline, they really get time and space to get down to the task at hand using a tool, that helps them work shorter hours and earn more.