Driven to distraction by technology
July 25th, 2005

The typical office worker is interrupted every three minutes by a phone call, e-mail, instant message or other distraction. The problem is that it takes about eight uninterrupted minutes for our brains to get into a really creative state, reports

mug_mouse_drinking.jpg “The result, says Carl Honore, journalist and author of “In Praise of Slowness,” is a situation where the digital communications that were supposed to make working lives run more smoothly are actually preventing people from getting critical tasks accomplished .

.. . For years, technology has worked to get people more connected. In the office there’s e-mail, instant messages and the phone. On the road, cell phones and BlackBerrys enable workers to stay in touch with colleagues.

There is a mini rebellion under way, however. Desperate for some quiet time to think, people are coming up with low-tech strategies to get away from all their technology . That has Microsoft and others taking note and looking for ways to create software that can be more adept at preventing interruptions.

… Businesses could benefit from introducing a collective effort to switch off, Honore said. He points to the marketing department at Veritas Software, which last year instituted “E-mail-free Fridays” for its marketing department.

… Although technology can and should make it easier to slow down, part of the change needs to be a different set of priorities.

“Technology has kind of turned the tables on us,” Honore said. “We move to its speed and its rhythm.”

Above left, for anyone who missed it, is The MugMouse. It’s a computer mouse you can use to drink coffee. Or a coffe mug you can use as a mouse. It”s just much slower. When filled with tea or coffee, the mug needs to be moved more carefully than a normal mouse. Part of SLOWEB, a project that rethinks the way people work at computer and introduces slowness in the life of hectic people. [via WMMNA]

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