Deep Work in Dentistry

Deep Work in Dentistry

Just read a super interesting book called Deep Work where the author makes the case that not only are we all personally absorbed by our cell phones, but also distracted at work thanks to email and constant interruption. At the same time, he shares examples of how “deep work” (I would also call this substantial productivity) are highly valued – from published articles to completed software code.

This is in contrast to the “shallow work” of answering emails, handling phone calls, the more administrative-type tasks that most everyone handles daily. In the second half of his book, he provides techniques for time management and focus to help readers prioritize their deep work. He also encourages measurement so we can see our own success.

So, what does deep work look like in dentistry?

For clinicians, it’s easy to see: completed treatment by dentists, hygienists successfully removing every last bit of calculus or EFDAs placing fillings. But, what counts as deep work for the business-side of the practice?

I used to get so angry when the owner dentist of our practice would call the administrative tasks at the front desk “good-natured running around” – I would vehemently explain to him that those tasks were required! If we stopped answering phones and checking out patients, then we would have a real problem. However, as I read this book, I now can see that these type of tasks, although absolutely essential, are most definitely “shallow work”. So, if most of our administrative duties are shallow, what constitutes deep work for a dental office manager?

Deep Work for Dental Office Managers

Think about the tasks that take time and concentration – here’s my list:

  • Entering insurance payments and adjustments
  • Collections efforts – for both outstanding insurance and personal payments due
  • Filling schedules – recare and unscheduled treatment
  • Training – in a comprehensive manner
  • Creating marketing content – FB posts, pictures, videos, etc.

If you are the dental office manager for a your office, then your ability to prioritize these “deep work” tasks quickly reflects in the financial success of your practice. Looking at your normal week, you have to block out time regularly to tackle these tasks. And, if you do not block your schedule, then your time becomes swallowed up in the shallow work that must be done – and leads managers to feel overwhelmed, but not productive. If you have ever said, “Where did this day go? I have been super busy but I don’t feel like I’ve gotten anything accomplished all day!” then you know what it’s like to be over-run by shallow work.

The good news is that you can train other team members to handle shallow work – this adds cross-training into the office, expands the variety of tasks each team member can handle and most importantly, allows you to focus on deep work which benefits everyone.


Check out my Free Resources

For a FREE resource to help you prioritize your deep work, click on Organize your Team: Ideal Day and you will receive a free, customizable template you can use to assign specific tasks to your team – so that you are intentional with your work.

And, if you are hiring a new team member: assistant, hygienist or front desk team member, check out the Hiring Dental Staff online course that provides you with a complete approach to attracting the top candidates, interviewing them well and then getting your whole team to support and train this new hire.


AUTHOR: Jill Nesbitt
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