(Fast Company) — Distractions at work are nothing new. Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch) wrote about strategies for dealing with work distractions way back in the 1300s. In his Life of Solitude, Petrarch offers the following advice for the medieval scholar: “Close the doors of your senses in order to achieve solitude in the presence of other people.” Today, you will find many people doing exactly that in coffee shops and other public places. Yet distractions have gotten worse, much worse, in fact, and technology is largely to blame. As late as the 1960s, the only piece of technology on a worker’s desk was a telephone (and maybe a typewriter). Contrast that with today’s collage of desktop computer, notebook computer, voice over IP (video) phone, smartphone, iPod, iPad, and other devices. Each one of these electronic “servants” vie for the attention of its master with beeping alerts, trendy ringtones, and flashing screens. This army of devices is overloading us with information, and we battle to keep up.
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