The beginning of a new year has us thinking: Where does the time go, and how can I get a better handle on it? As lawyers and human beings, we struggle a good bit with arranging the minutes in a day to suit the amount of work we have to do.
Naturally, we queried Yahoo and Google, hoping for an answer to the riddle of time. Oh, we got a lot of answers, including explanations of the space time continuum (which will make our science fiction TV viewing more interesting), but not the ones we were looking for. We did, however, find some websites that just might come in handy for lawyers.
First, if you want an accurate “official” time for the United States, with a map showing the time zones, go to The Official U.S. Time page. To be honest, sometimes the animation on this page prevents it from loading properly, no matter which browser you use, so we use the nonanimated version (click on “Disable Java Animation,” then choose your time zone). But it is a handy site to make sure your computer, or watch, is displaying the correct time.
Is your college buddy from Thailand irritated when you call him at home in Bangkok at 2:00 in the morning? Next time, go to The World Clock www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/ before you call. Likewise, if you have overseas clients or want to set up a conference call between people in several time zones, use The World Clock Meeting Planner www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/meeting.html to set up your conference call at a time convenient for everyone. Just pick the date and the cities of the attendees. When Jim needs to teleconference with his copresenter in Addis Ababa, the Meeting Planner lets him see a range of days and times he and his copresenter can chat. (Hint: if you must communicate with someone in Addis Ababa, use email.)
Other free worldwide meeting planners are available online, such as ScheduleOnce.com, or World Time Server (which has a mobile version).
Of course, if you just want to know the time in a particular city or town right now, type the word “time” and the city’s name into Google. Try that one right now and see the results.
This year, we resolve to capture more billable time. Oh wait, we don’t do that anymore. OK, we resolve to help you capture your time. The best way to to that is with your practice management software or billing software. But there are some nice free tools on the Internet that will help you do that as well. One is Online Stopwatch.com and another is TimeMe.com. Both will let you set a timer or stopwatch for meetings, presentations, phone calls, and so on. You use the timer directly from their web page, which relies on your PC’s internal clock for accuracy. Online Stopwatch has a version you can download—the “Stay on Top App”—which stays open on top of the other applications you may be running on your computer.
If you only have a short amount of time to give a presentation, setting the timer to count down the minutes on your laptop PC will either be a tremendous help or a nerve-wracking experience. Try it, and let us know which it is.
If you want to track the time it takes you to do a task and then see a very basic report, try Time Tracker. With a simple registration you can add “Tasks” which consists of a category and a subcategory for what you are timing. Once that it set, start the timer. When you are finished, stop the timer and view a report. The report is just the category name with the date and time started, the date and time finished, plus the total duration.
OnlineConversion.com has a list of date and time related conversion charts and calculators. We can both convert to and from military time in our heads; but if you cannot, here is the place to go. That is just one of many free tools there, including one that tells you what a person’s birthday must be in order to be a certain age today.
If you have trouble hitting the snooze on your alarm clock too many times in the morning, there are a number of Internet-based services that will let you schedule wake-up calls or our telephonic reminders at the cost of a few cents per call. Some of these are www.wake123.com, www.MySnoozeSter.com and http://telepixie.com/. We haven’t actually used any of these, so we can’t vouch for them. We assume that they verify it is really your phone number first somehow. Otherwise some lawyer might decide to give opposing counsel a wake up call at 4:00 a.m. before every deposition, just as professional courtesy, of course.
If you have young children, you might want to see this reviewer’s links to five websites that help teach kids about telling time: www.surfnetkids.com/telling_time.htm.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has a service that will synchronize your computer’s clock to the correct time at http://tf.nist.gov/service/its.htm. But after looking at the instructions, we’ve decided we’ll just go to one of the sites that we first first mentioned and reset our computer clock manually if we have the need, as we don’t have time to figure that all out. NIST also has a history feature called a Walk Through Time, http://physics.nist.gov/GenInt/Time/time.html, which is interesting and might be really valuable if you had to write a term paper on the history of measuring time.
We would love to hang around and share some more great sites with you, but unfortunately, we’re out of time! We hope you find the time to explore these sites.
Jim Calloway is the director of the Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Program. He served as chair of the ABA TECHSHOW 2005. Calloway publishes the weblog, Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips, at http://jimcalloway.typepad.com, and was coauthor of the book, Winning Alternatives to the Billable Hour. He serves on the GP|Solo Division Technology Board. Courtney Kennaday is the director of the Practice Management Assistance Program of the South Carolina Bar. She advises bar members on practice management and law office technology.
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