Take a second to think about the average number of devices sitting in front of you on a typical workday: There’s your desktop PC, of course, followed by a cell phone, desk phone and maybe even a tablet or two. Now think about how many times a day you switch between each of these devices to check messages, view email or make calls. Chances are, you’re never able to focus on one task for too long without something flashing, buzzing or pinging you and sapping your focus from the task at hand.
Millennials are typically the most overstimulated when it comes to the modern workplace, and the abundance of devices vying for our attention has a real effect on our output. Sitting down to focus on a time-sensitive matter is all the more difficult when friends are sending text messages, alert lights are blinking on phones and your smart device is rattling away on your wrist with each new email alert.
So what can we do to clear away all the clutter and focus on the task at hand?
On an individual level, we should all make a conscious effort to reduce the number of devices in play during working hours, so only the most necessary devices are sitting in front of you. Is your cell phone buzzing all day? Turn it on silent mode and put it in a desk drawer, so you only check it every few hours. Is your wearable becoming unbearable? Change the alert settings so you only receive notifications for the most crucial information. And do everyone a favor and sign out of Facebook, because the latest cat video can certainly wait until your lunch break.
Even though millennials are often considered to be the most distracted generation, older generations also have their work cut out for them when it comes to shutting out distractions and getting back down to business. A recent study from AppSense found that while millennials were the most distracted when their desktop experience was slow, a small percentage of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers were also apt to stray from their main goal while waiting for a page to load or a computer to boot up.
We all need to spend a little less time juggling our devices and more time focusing on what really matters: getting our work done. Millennials may be the biggest culprits when it comes to workplace distractions, but that doesn’t mean we can’t set an example for the rest of our colleagues. So the next time your feel the need to take a break and check your Twitter account, consider the damage you could be doing to your reputation and instead focus on being an example for other workers to follow. After all, your notifications aren’t going anywhere.
The Millennial Report is a weekly column by associate editor Michael Cusanelli, who graduated from Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism in 2012. He is an avid gamer and movie buff who spends nearly as much time concocting the perfect mix tape as he does writing. You can find him on Twitter @MCusanelliSB.