Between text message alerts on our phones and e-mail notifications on our watches, the amount of electronic "pings" we get on a daily basis can be a huge distraction. A quick glance at your phone or a short click over to Twitter may seem harmless, but a new field of study called interruption science is showing us just how disruptive these daily distractions really are.
Pico Iyer, author of The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere, explains his fascination with interruption science in the above "Super Soul Sunday" video. "They found it takes the average human being almost 25 minutes to recover from a phone call, but the average human being gets an interruption every 11 minutes now," he says. "So we're never caught up."
With distractions all around us, Iyer says it's more important than ever to take a few moments each day to unplug. "I've realized the big luxury for so many people now is just a little blank space in the calendar every day where you collect yourself," he says.
In The Art of Stillness, Iyer writes about how crowded, noisy and chaotic our lives are. He believes we all need to give ourselves permission to slow down and practice stillness. "So when you ask what stillness gives to me, I'd say it's sanity and it's balance and it's a chance to put things in perspective," Iyer says. "And then we can come back to our lives with much more kindness and purpose and clarity."
Meditation is one way to practice stillness, but it's not the only option. Iyer laughs that even he's "a bit too lazy" to meditate with any consistency. Instead, he suggests making simple changes, like turning off the radio in the car or shutting down the computer in the evening.
"When I'm waiting for my wife to come home from work, and I don't know if it will be one or two hours, I used to scroll through my emails, and then I thought, 'Just turn off all the lights and listen to some music,'" he says. "I noticed I was so much fresher when I heard her footsteps on the stairs and said hello. I slept better. I woke up better. So just tiny, everyday things just to clear some space in one's head and one's mind."
More: Where Pico Iyer says to go when you want to feel refreshed, renewed and alive.