This post was contributed by Fred Mouawad to Business Insider on 5/7/2015.
What do most people think of when they hear the word ‘Gen-Xers’?
Slackers with little respect for authority, right? Impatient. At least that’s what the media would have you believe.
What about millennials? Narcissists with a huge sense of entitlement.
Stereotypes, you say? You’re right, and like all stereotypes, they’re one-dimensional portrayals.
Gen-Xers have a number of good points. They’re “detail-oriented and will work if they have focus,” to borrow from Wisegeek.
And actually, millennials are thought to be “more open-minded, and more supportive equal rights” — a few positives listed by LiveScience.
In truth, no one generation is better than any other, and we can all learn a few things from each other. As a serial Generation X entrepreneur leading eight businesses, including a 120-year-old family jewelry business and my latest venture, Taskworld, I’ve picked up a few productivity tips along the way.
Here are suggestions for millennials on how to work more efficiently and live your best life:
1. Determine your priorities.
Often, many of us find ourselves consuming hours without real purpose. Without purpose, we lose our way on the path we’ve set until one day we realize we are in a place far different from where we wanted to be. We start regretting our choices and reflecting on what we should or should not have done.
It’s critical to understand what we value at a young age, and to keep in mind that these priorities may shift as we age or their roles in our lives change.
The key is to find the right balance in life by effectively dividing our time among learning, contributing, dedicating time to friends and family, and spending time on our own to rejuvenate. Be clear on your top three priorities, and dedicate more time to them without ignoring your other responsibilities.
2. Get the most out of the time you invest.
Although the impact of our efforts can be hard to measure, we usually achieve the best results in 20% of our time. So what do we do with the remaining 80%?
By being aware of that 80-20 rule, we can try to beat the odds by identifying the areas in which we should invest more time. Instead of just investing time trying to accomplish a goal, reflect on how the amount of time you spend will impact the outcome. More time does not necessarily equate to more productivity; maximizing impact-per-hour-invested does.
3. Measure your performance.
To improve performance, you need hard data to see how well you’re doing. To measure your performance, find metrics based on the type of work you do.
For example, if you’re an analyst, count the number of reports you’re able to generate weekly. Budget the time it will take to accomplish tasks, and measure the actual time spent versus the time you projected it would take. Use a software tool like Taskworld to measure performance in order to make adjustments and improve performance.
4. Experiment with different approaches.
To continuously enhance your productivity, you’ve got to raise the bar with each task you undertake. Either you’ve got to be faster at what you’re doing or change your approach.
In most cases, the best way to improve performance is the latter. Constantly think about what you can improve, and try different methods to achieve that goal. Keep on doing what works and drop what doesn’t. Never stop experimenting.
5. Minimize your time-wasters.
Everyone has time-wasters they’re often blind to. We’re simply not aware that certain activities consume so much of our time. There are activities we like doing that don’t add value, or those we think we should do but could delegate. These sap time and energy and are counterproductive.
Try logging what you do for a week, and then identify how you’re spending your time. The results may surprise you. By eliminating time-wasters, your productivity will get a boost.
Entrepreneurship is not easy, and managing your time and productivity is one of its biggest challenges. Then again, if being an entrepreneur were easy, everyone would do it.