There are a lot of myths floating around the internet regarding millennials (those born roughly from 1980-2000). As a millennial, I often find myself frustrated at the inaccuracies of these myths.
Most of the information that gets spread comes from leaders and content creators who appear more interested in speaking on a popular topic than being interested in helping people better understand the largest segment in the American workforce.
One of the myths that I have seen in multiple places is this: Millennials prefer to do everything digitally. Conversations, projects, meetings, everything.
Whenever I read that or hear someone say it, I often wonder what millennials they actually know. That particular blanket statement doesn’t apply to me, and doesn’t apply to many of the millennials I know.
There is much to be said about how to interpret anecdotal statements, but I won’t address that here. Instead, let me discuss the truth about millennials and the digital world.
One study released recently affirms what I myself know: we love digital and analog.
Yes, we do love digital
I can’t avoid that reality. We millennials (including the ones who work with you and for you) love the digital world. We are the first generation to have the title “digital native.” VCRs, cassette tapes, and Windows 95 are distant relics from our childhood.
We came through high school and college with disposable income in hand when Apple introduced the iPod. iPhones and iPads came out when were out of college and entering the workforce. The Mac revolution? Yep. That was when we were in college.
Social media launched when we were in college, and was started by our fellow millennials. Many of us have been blogging for years, and we love FaceTime and Skype.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. We love digital.
But notice what I didn’t say. I didn’t say we love only the digital world.
We also love analog.
This is a both/and issue, not an either/or issue. Many business consultants and leadership types (often the age of our parents and grandparents) will tell leaders to move to an exclusively digital workplace.
But this couldn’t be farther from the truth. We as a generation still love paper. It’s not a dead medium. Michael Hyatt, leadership and productivity expert, said earlier this year that paper is more effective as a part of your system than being exclusively digital.
For example, my wife prefers her paper planner and notebook than her iPhone 6S plus. Not because she doesn’t love the iPhone, but because she feels more comfortable using paper.
I am one of 4 millennials on the senior leadership team where I work. In every meeting, we all use paper. On our desks? Paper.
We like Moleskine notebooks and Field Notes. Post-It Notes are still close friends (one former millennial coworker worked almost exclusively from Post-It Notes. He was also one of the most organized people on staff).
What does this mean for you?
All of this means one thing: relax. Don’t try to force something on yourself or your team that is unnecessary. We are OK with not having a completely paperless office. Meetings are better when we can be in the same room. And sometimes are to-do lists are more effective on a Post-It Note.