New London Architecture

Mindfulness and offline working hold digital wellbeing key

Thursday 13 August 2020

David Taylor

Editor, NLQ and New London Weekly

Practicing mindfulness and trying offline working are the best things you can do to improve your digital wellbeing.

That’s according to Shine Offline co-founder Laura Willis as she ran through a number of coping mechanisms to the impacts of the Coronavirus on our daily working – and non-working lives.

Willis, who helps businesses support their staff in having healthy and sustainable relationships with their digital technology in an age when more of us feel connected all the time, had a number of recommendations to make, including taking emails off phones, downloading apps like Forest, self-rationing access to apps like Twitter and Instagram and avoiding using phones as alarm clocks. As someone who took her phone everywhere including the toilet and bedroom, the light shone on the dysfunctional relationship she had with devices when she became a mother and realised she wanted to give her daughter her full attention whenever she was with her. She had suffered from digital stress, but said it was crucial now to be in control of your attention, and her top tips were to deal with mental burn out from too many brain-intensive Zoom sessions where minds have to work harder in the absence of non-visual clues, were mindfulness and taking advantage of offline working – accessible in email browsers like Outlook.

Whenever you want to stay focused, plant a tree with the Forest app
Practicing mindfulness every day reduces ‘over-thinking’, allows you to be more present for people and lowers stress, while getting an alarm clock rather than using your phone will improve sleep patterns, she said, especially when coupled with a regimen of screen-free breaks and changing email use.

‘I took email off my phone about five years ago and it saved me’, said Willis. ‘We don’t need to carry the phone to the kettle’. 

Other tips included: having digital morning and evening rituals, perhaps having two separate phones for work and life, managing notifications, talking more on the phone, being conscious of Zoom fatigue, creating a digital rulebook for the home including screen-free time alone and together, talking more and picking up the phone to chat to friends.

‘Practice mindfulness because that will increase your ability to focus, it will increase your self-compassion, it will increase your ability to pause’, said Willis. ‘It will basically help your brain in so many ways. But the other thing is work offline. Remove distractions for a period of time every hour. Get your phone on flight mode, stick it in the drawer…but start to experiment with working offline with 15 minutes every hour and you might be able to build up to half an hour on and half an hour off. And that’s where you can really start to do really good work’.



David Taylor

Editor, NLQ and New London Weekly


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