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5 Productivity Lessons From the Millennial Work Style

5 Productivity Lessons From the Millennial Work Style

Gen Y workers are often maligned in the business world for their entitlement or self-interest, but there are several productivity lessons to be learned from the millennial work style. Companies like General Electric, Cisco Systems and Ogilvy & Mather have already leveraged younger workers’ knowledge through reverse mentoring sessions, in which junior employees teach upper managers and executives about social media, the Internet, workplace culture and even management practices.

Read on for a handful of productivity-centric lessons inspired by the unconventional work style my millennial peers and I have adopted.

1. Embrace experimentation

Millennials are notorious early adopters, eager to explore new tools or experiment with different ways of performing standard tasks. Many of us spent our grade-school years blogging, instant messaging, texting and playing video games to express ourselves and blow off steam; as young adults, we proactively seek out software, apps and daily practices that facilitate our “work hard, play harder” mentality.

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To leverage this entrepreneurial attitude, try out different work “shifts,” research and begin using a new productivity tool, or pick the brain of a colleague you admire. Strive to innovate and hone your existing workflows with the goal of creating new, more effective routines.

2. Be self-centered, in a good way

A common criticism of Gen-Y workers is that they’re self-centered, but this isn’t necessarily a negative trait when it comes to productivity. Millennials focus on their specific roles and responsibilities, execute them, and move on to the next task. Completing to-dos and getting work done is more important to them than being recognized in the office as the first one to arrive and the last one to leave. Whereas their coworkers might aspire to be the “go-to” person in the office ready to dispense advice and next steps, many millennials prefer to be recognized as the top performer.

Channel this focus on self over others when managing your priorities and workload. Evaluate how taking on additional projects or delegating tasks would influence your happiness and career advancement, and do your best to avoid sacrificing the former in pursuit of the latter.

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3. Learn from failure

Video games teach children that failure presents an opportunity to learn and try new techniques; combine that habit with the fearlessness of youth, and it’s no surprise that millennials aren’t as apprehensive of failure as their older coworkers might be. We learn by doing, and are okay with sacrificing efficiency in the name of learning a new skill.

While you may never shake your fear of failure, learn to recognize it as a chance to improve, learn and ultimately succeed in your future ventures.

4. Capitalize on instability

Considering the dismal economy, skyrocketing divorce rates, real estate crisis and credit crunch, millennials haven’t had much occasion to embrace stability in adulthood. We’ve had to hustle and become proficient at a variety of skills to compete in a rapidly changing job market.

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In a piece called “Generation Flux” for Fast Company, 26-year-old Pete Cashmore, the CEO of Mashable, touched on the need to embrace change and capitalize on instability. “I don’t have any personal challenges about throwing away the past,” he said. “If you’re not changing, you’re giving others a chance to catch up. Even if you know everything about a certain market now, in a few years you’re going to have to start from scratch like everyone else.”

Recognize that today’s innovation-driven business environment offers opportunities to revolutionize your work habits, proficiencies and attitudes toward work. Think of this change positively. “The typical mindset understates the risk of not changing and overstates the risk of change,” added Cashmore.

5. Motivation matters

Gen Y workers thrive on continuous feedback and mentorship. It’s easy to dismiss this behavior as needy or lazy, but positive mentors and team-oriented leaders give younger workers three essential things they need to stay engaged at the workplace: context, collaboration and communicated expectations.

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Molly Graham, a 27-year-old human resources professional at Facebook, spoke last fall at the HR Technology conference about the positive side of millennials’ entitlement complex:

Entitlement means someone who thinks they have a right to something, a right to know, a right to be part of a process, part of decision making. We have a different word for this. We want to build a company where people believe they have a right to something — we call it ownership. Everyone should feel like it’s their company, they are responsible for the success of the company, for their decisions… This, for us, is a good thing.

Channel millennials’ natural inquisitiveness by nurturing relationships with mentors and other superiors. If you feel a strong sense of loyalty to your boss and always understand the larger implications of your work, you’ll develop intrinsic motivation that incentivizes you to work more efficiently and effectively.

Conclusion

Despite these productivity advantages, millennials still have much to learn from older generations in the working world. The ideal office scenario enables employees of all experience levels to learn from each other’s strengths through regular collaboration and mentorship.

(Photo credit: Victor1558 via Flickr)

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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