Known as “digital natives,” millennials are known for being tech-savvy both in their personal and their professional lives. While this may come as a benefit in many situations, some employers worry that this dependence on technology can impair a candidate’s ability to prioritize their work and effectively multi-task without becoming distracted or side-tracked. Is this concern warranted, or does the millennial connection to technology make them better multi-taskers?
The Effect of Technology
Unlike previous generations, millennials grew up with a heavy emphasis on technology, both in school and as a source of entertainment. As a result, they developed a habit of doing several things at once—whether that’s IMing their friends, responding to emails, or browsing the web.
Given the ubiquity of technology in their lives, this comes as no surprise. Many millennials listen to music while they work, or leave a television on in the background. Even more have multiple browsers open and several programs demanding their attention as they work.
However, this practice doesn’t seem to affect their ability to concentrate. In fact, studies show that younger generations are more comfortable with multi-tasking than their older counterparts. They can perform complex tasks with a variety of ambient distractions, including music and nearby conversations, and can bounce back and forth between different activities without feeling distracted or overwhelmed.
As a result, millennials are particularly adept at careers in IT, communications, or marketing roles. They’re able to manage heavy workloads, fast-paced environments, and energetic workplaces that might distract non-tech focused employees.
The Harm of Multi-Tasking
Millennial candidates do need to keep in mind that there is a right time and a wrong time for multi-tasking. For instance, during assignments that require a high level of concentration, accuracy, or attention to detail, it’s best to eliminate other distractions and focus on the task at hand. In other instances, multi-tasking may involve social media or personal conversations with friends or family that can derail your focus and result in poor work performance.
Effective multi-tasking demands a balance between periods of intense concentration and periods of responsiveness to the demands of different tasks. To control your attention span, know when to close out of instant messengers or put your phone on “Do Not Disturb.” You can always take a temporary break from technology if you feel that it is becoming too much of a distraction during your work day.
Multi-tasking is a skill that many millennials possess, and it allows them to dedicate their attention to a variety of tasks at any given moment. However, if you find yourself facing distractions, take the time to step away from technology and focus on the task at hand. If you can identify your biggest distraction, you’ll be a more effective multi-tasker and a more productive employee.