When we co-wrote “Earn It!: Know Your Value and Grow Your Career, in Your 20s and Beyond,” we set out to address the challenges young people have when trying to assert themselves in the workplace. One obstacle includes fighting the stereotypes associated with their generation (much like the photo above!).
Millennials often get a bad rap for being a group of distracted, young people. And there’s some truth to that, at least when it comes to our phones.
Cellphone owners between the ages of 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 text messages each day, according to Pew Research Center. That’s more than 3,200 texts a month! Millennials also spend on average about 5.7 hours a day on their phones. Not only does that kill productivity, it distracts from your message and takes away time from communicating face-to-face with your bosses and co-workers, which is critical when you’re just starting out in the workforce.
We’ve found that it’s especially important for young people in their first, second or third job to establish a precedent where they appear focused. What does that mean? You’ve got to slow down, take in your surroundings and put down the phone.
If you’re clicking around on your phone at the office (even while you’re working!), it can appear you’re interested in something other than your job or the person sitting in front of you.
For example, countless young interns and employees come through “Morning Joe” and take notes on their phone, only to follow up hours later because they somehow deleted what they typed. Technology is like that. You’ll type something, or accidentally check a task that was never completed. And because you have plenty of other apps and distractions, the room for error is larger.
It’s not good for you mentally and physically to always have your phone glued to you. And because it’s become such a habit, you may not realize what it looks like from the outside.
Our advice is to take a mindful approach and to physically write down tasks and notes. There is something more purposeful and intentional about writing notes down with a pen and paper. And if you are someone who absolutely needs to have the information on your phone, deal with getting it all on your device later.
It’s important to communicate effectively, and that means being focused and physically present in front of people.
We challenge you, beginning today, to try and find more moments to put your phone in your pocket, and check it hourly (or at least more sparingly). And when you hear that beep alerting you to a text message, pause and ask yourself, “Do I really need to look and respond at this very moment?”
Putting down the phone is not only good for your mind — it can also take your career to the next level.