The Three Key Productivity Lessons We Can Learn From Millennials

08/25/2017 07:43 pm ET Updated Aug 25, 2017

For years, the "millennial generation" has been the subject of derision from a wide range of different angles. They have been called things like "lazy," "entitled" and "delusional," to name a few. They were looked at as kids who were spoiled from birth and who expected to start at the top. As it turns out, however, this couldn't be further from the truth.

What millennials should be labeled as is adaptable.

The Pew Research Center released a study showing that millennials are on track to become the most educated generation in American history. This wasn’t necessarily by choice - they needed to survive, and they used their ability to quickly adapt to their advantage. You could say they mastered the term “work smarter, not harder” and applied to technology, innovation, processes and work flow.

But the fact that millennials are highly educated is only one small part of a much larger story. Equally important to their success is the fact that they may very well be the most productive generation, too. Anyone who wishes they could find the time to cram a few more hours into a day can stand to learn a thing or two from the millennials.

"There's an App For That"

Because millennials are the first generation to come of age not only in the new millennial but the digital era, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that they're highly efficient at technology. However, they're not just hanging out on Snap Chat and Instagram - many are using technology to help make the rest of us more productive at the same time, through intuitive productivity platforms created to make you and your organization more efficient.

ClickUp, for example, is a company founded by Millennials that bill itself as a "productivity platform that works for anyone." With an average employee age of just 24, the solution is a project management platform built by (and for) people who hate project management platforms.

With machine learning, ClickUp learns as you work, using predictive analysis to determine who a task is likely to be assigned to, where it will be stored, and whether time estimates are on track. Using this artificial intelligence, it gets smarter estimates with every task. Over time, it becomes intimately familiar with your team and can potentially take over the role of time estimates entirely.

A similar solution is Wrike - another platform that bills itself as "project management made simple." Not only is Wrike highly scalable across teams and businesses, but it's also cloud-based - allowing it to be natively compatible with nearly any device that users already have. Whether they're using a desktop or a laptop or a smartphone or tablet doesn't matter - however they choose to work they CAN. 

Give Yourself a Time Limit Instead of Multitasking

Even though you might think of yourself as an excellent multitasker, science says that you're probably not - something that the millennials were quick to figure out. This segues directly into another valuable lesson that they can teach us: forget about trying to do ten things at once and focus on quality over quantity wherever possible.

When you try to divide your attention between completing small portions of five tasks at the same time, you become a "jack of all trades, master of none." Instead, it is in your own best interest to go in the opposite direction. Devote 100% of your attention to one particular task, but give yourself a time limit to avoid spending too much time on any one goal.

Tell yourself that you're going to spend an hour answering emails and when that hour is up, move onto the next goal and don't even think about emails for the rest of the day. Not only will you be able to get more done, but the quality of your work will also improve.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Another essential lesson to be learned from the millennials involves working smarter, not harder. This is less the product of any one significant move and more the result of a series of little ones. Instead of spending 12 hours a day in the office, for example, work on improving your time management skills and eliminate distractions that slow down your focus.

Focus on when the perfect time is to complete certain tasks. If you don't NEED to be in your office to do something, save it for later. If you can get something done just as effectively from your smartphone on your commute home as you can in the office, do so - free up that valuable office time for things to that need to be done in that particular location.

Regarding the millennial generation, let this be a lesson to all of us: not only should you probably never judge a book by its cover, once you realize how important that book is you would do well to read it as quickly as possible. You never know what you might be able to learn from the most unlikely of sources.

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