Generation Z, or as they’ve come to affectionately be called, Zoomers, might just be the best of all of us. Or at least, they have the potential to be the best.
You see them on TikTok, making videos that waste no time delivering funny, poignant, or otherwise entertaining moments. In those videos where they need to talk directly to the camera, they all know how to hit their mark, and be presentable, and enunciate clearly and engagingly. They’re funny. They’re self-deprecating while still confident. In their work, they appear self-possessed, bright, and curious. Olivia Rodrigo is such a special talent. So is Zendaya. And Carlos Alcaraz.
You see these “kids” making animations, or impassioned speeches, or science demonstrations that blow your mind. Maybe it’s an algorithmic phenomenon that’s feeding us this content. Or maybe they really are that special.
But at the same time, they also may have the toughest beat any generation has had in a long time.
The poisoned apple they were offered for those lightning speed brains and recall also came at a cost: attention spans zapped—decimated so immediately and so thoroughly it was like they were never even there. Higher rates of mental health issues across the board and in every direction. Increasingly isolated and anxious. And the idea of homeownership, to them, is as realistic as a comic book.
It’s everything at once. How can any of them keep their TikTok feed straight, let alone their minds?
If we were young now, we would have no chance at surviving with all that being thrown at us. And yet, these kids persist.
Today we look into some of the things Gen Z can do to manage, and adjust, and thrive. And, in a twist, everything that might be helpful to them could be helpful to all of us. Even you, Grandpa.
Make. A. List.
The knowledge that you could effectively do anything, and have the potential to achieve anything can leave you feeling paralyzed. So much promise, so much potential—so much pressure.
“Anything” is a big scary word. It makes you want to stop before you start.
Many of us can relate that to that feeling. But many more of us can benefit from the simple way that anyone should approach that problem: make a list.
Get fancy with it if you want. Assign certain tasks to timeframes and calendars. Prioritize your responsibilities based on their importance and deadlines. Apps like Trello, Asana, or Google Calendar can help. Having a clear plan in place will make it easier to allocate time to each area of your life.
However you decide to do it, just do it—make a list. Get it all written down in one place. Then you can start attacking it.
“Time blocking” is a term for dedicating specific blocks of time to particular tasks or activities. For example, allocate a block of time for focused studying, another for work, and another for personal activities. This technique helps maintain concentration and prevents distractions from bleeding into your other responsibilities.
The next step comes naturally. We have a million things we want to accomplish in our days, and in our lives. Making a list is a great start. But now comes the task of making a day. A schedule for yourself where you can reasonably try to attack all of these things at once without your head entirely spinning off your neck.
Follow the example of many well-adjusted and successful billionaire types and divide your day up into large chunks by category.
Filter out any thought of any other kind of work during that time—one task at a time, you are singularly focused. Feel the difference. That harried feeling in your mind? The feeling that no to-do list could be long enough to capture all the little things you feel like you need to do? Gone.
Embrace Technology Wisely
Generation Z is intimately familiar with technology, to intimidating and spellbinding degrees. And that can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to productivity. Leverage productivity apps and tools to streamline your tasks. Note-taking apps like Notion or Bear are excellent for keeping track of important information and keeping it in one place. You could consider using website blockers to limit your time on distracting websites and apps. Embracing technology in this way can significantly enhance your efficiency and focus.
These kids are a whiz with their phones. And it’s more than just using them quickly or using them all the time: they commune with them differently than someone who ever lived a life where they didn’t exist. We’ve all seen an iPad kid or two that could probably harness the power of that thing to pull a 747 out of the sky—all while we’re still just trying to type in “Cocomelon.” (Or, far better, “Bluey.”) This is a superpower—it should be harnessed instead of being allowed to fester and mutate into destructive habits.
Learn to Say No
When you’re young and you’ve maybe only felt burnt out a few times in your life, it feels like there is no good reason to say no. Your energy is infinite, right? And this is a spectacular trait—one that you can hone as you navigate a career where it will come in handy at times.
While ambition is a fantastic thing to possess, it’s crucial to recognize your limits. Overcommitting can lead to burnout and negatively impact your productivity. Be discerning about the commitments you take on and learn to say no when necessary. It’s not about missing out; it’s about valuing your time and ensuring that you can give your best to the tasks and responsibilities you’ve already taken on.
Practice the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method as revolutionary as it is relatively ancient. It involves breaking your work into short, focused intervals, typically around 25 minutes, followed by a short break. It sounds simple, but it’s remarkably effective at keeping you locked in. We have sung its praises on this blog before. We even offer a free service that allows people to gather and work in pomodoros together—they happen every single weekday. By working in concentrated bursts, you can accomplish tasks more efficiently while also incorporating regular breaks to recharge.
Efficient Study Techniques
If you’re not in school right now, thank your lucky stars. It looks exceedingly brutal out there.
Thankfully, being a student at this stage of human development also means that the tools at your disposal are multitudinous and scary powerful. Enough to make Newton’s head spin. (Even someone who has no knowledge of the space these days has a cursory understanding of Duolingo and Kahoot.)
For studying specifically, Gen Zers can benefit from modern techniques like spaced repetition and active recall. (Gone are the days where flashcards were the most exciting study innovation on the block.) Apps like Anki and Quizlet are excellent tools for implementing these methods. Additionally, find a study environment that minimizes distractions and enhances concentration.
Optimize Your Environment
Whether you’re working from home or an office, the environment you’re in plays a significant role in your productivity. Ensure your workspace is conducive to focused work. Invest in ergonomic furniture to support your posture and reduce physical strain. Keep the area clutter-free to minimize distractions. Personalize your workspace with items that inspire and motivate you. Creating an environment that caters to your needs can greatly enhance your productivity and overall well-being.
Self-Care and Well-being
And all the while, with everything else they already have to worry about, Gen Z has to contend with their mental health. Luckily they are at the forefront of rapidly growing movements in self-care and mental health awareness. Society is finally promoting and (rightfully) insisting on a more balanced life with more time for tea and meditation and therapy.
Neglect that side of your life at your own peril—decreased productivity and well-being just being the opening salvo. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and mindfulness practices are crucial for maintaining your physical and mental health. Make time for hobbies and activities you enjoy to recharge your batteries. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury but a necessity for sustained productivity and happiness.
Seek Support and Mentorship
It’s a unique moment to be a young person in the world. On the one hand, there is more wisdom and knowledge readily accessible (from Wikipedia, yes, but also from super-specific niche geniuses on YouTube, or benevolent masters on random message boards and Reddit posts) than maybe ever in human history. And as a result, these young people are the most competent and capable the world has seen.
But on the other hand, it’s nearly impossible to sift through that and readily find something truly helpful and revelatory and meaningful to your specific cause. To really get deep into understanding the unique path of a career and a life well lived. Because for that, we still need real people.
And when everyone has a platform, and everyone knows how to make a passable TikTok video about investing in stocks or a workout routine wherein they basically say nothing, it’s all the more important to find real people with real understanding of their craft that can help you on a real level.
There is still something uniquely special about getting guidance right from the source: someone directly addressing your exact and specific needs and talking to you—just you—about your specific situation.
The value of a textbook or a calculator might be in flux due to, I don’t know, Google and ChatGPT (don’t let your teacher know I said that). But a mentor never goes down in value. So don’t be afraid to seek figures like that out.
Reflect and Adapt
Gen Zers can not only excel in their endeavors but also lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. And finding the right balance may take time, but the effort is well worth it.
Sometimes it seems like Generation Z has it all figured out. Other times, I can feel the pressure radiating off of them to appear like they have it all figured out.
But the number one thing many of us probably remember about being young is making mistakes. Mistakes that were embarrassing or even painful at the time, but that shaped us into the people we are today.
Don’t shy away from this process. Rather, run toward it: accruing mistakes (read: experience), trying new ways to stay on top of things, and expanding what it means to be you. That’s the quickest and most surefire path toward growing into someone you’re proud of.
We’re counting on you
It’s a bright future, with a lot of possibility. And that can be paralyzing. An embarrassment of riches, even. But that just means achieving the totality of what you’re capable of will take more focus and more clear-eyed determination. But it’s more possible than ever to do more than ever. I say do it.
We’re counting on you, after all.