How to Improve Your Focus and Productivity Using Deep Work Routines
If you ask any kind of accounting firm owner about what they should work on in 2021, they would likely tell you that they’re keen on improving their productivity. In fact, you may share the same sentiments.
No matter how big or small your firm may be or what your target figures are for this year, there’s no doubt that operating as effectively as possible is something that is worth focusing on at any growth cycle stage. However, you’ve probably grown familiar with the fact that becoming more productive is a matter that is far easier said than done.
Yet, there is one particular concept that offers a valuable opportunity for accounting firms to accomplish such a goal amid all the hustle and bustle: Deep work.
What is deep work?
Conceptualized and developed by Cal Newport, deep work is a methodological approach to working or operations that was originally devised for the programming industry. While the development of the working method is something that was intended for a niche, it quickly became valuable for other industries (like accounting) because of its application.
Here is the technical definition of the concept of deep work according to Newport himself:
“Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a superpower in our increasingly competitive 21st-century economy.”
In other words, it’s a work approach that allows anyone to work productively when taking on highly intensive and problem-focused tasks that require deep concentration—accounting included.
Critical processes for fostering a deep work approach
Although replacing distraction with focus isn’t such a simple process, it’s critical to note that taking the proper approach and using the best practices will help get the ball rolling. Apart from having the right intentions to spark change in your CPA firm workflow management, Newport states that: “
The key to developing a deep work habit is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals to your working life designed to minimize the amount of your limited willpower necessary to transition into and maintain a state of unbroken concentration.”
Fortunately, Cal Newport’s book has outlined several strategies that accounting firms can use to get a head start on working their way to a more productive approach:
Getting the main idea
One of the most critical points that you need to acknowledge when delving into deep work is that you need your own philosophy for integrating it into the system your firm follows. Depending on how you work, there is a philosophy that fits your specific circumstances—some of which include:
- The Monastic Philosophy: Maximizing deep efforts by eliminating or minimizing shallow obligations
- The Bimodal Philosophy: Dividing your time and dedicating some clearly defined stretches to various greater pursuits you may have and leaving all other tasks open to looser approaches
- The Rhythmic Philosophy: Easing your operations and maximizing productivity by transforming the experience of starting and having deep work sessions into a regular habit
Collaboration as your solution for success
One principle of Cal Newton’s method that any accounting firm owner should become more acquainted with is the practice of using collaboration to one’s advantage.
Considering that accounting firms are composed of teams of different professionals and roles, it’s safe to say that there’s an opportunity for productive work sessions that lies right in front of you. By taking the time to consider the use of collaboration when appropriate, you’ll be able to rake in tremendous productivity gains from your operations. This is especially possible if you use a hub-and-spoke model, which is defined as:
“A setup that straddles a spectrum where on one extreme we find the solo thinker, isolated from inspiration but free from distraction; on the other extreme, we find the fully collaborative thinker in an open office, flush with inspiration but struggling to support the deep thinking needed to build on it.”
As we head into 2021 with many opportunities for productivity that lie ahead, it’s critical to take proactive steps with what your accounting firm is doing to become productive as time passes. Thankfully, using the deep work approach will help accelerate the rate at which your firm progresses and attains even more immeasurable success in no time!
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