Talks and tweets from #MindfulTech19

The MmIT Committee were delighted to welcome over forty group members and others from the library and information community to Cilip HQ on 9 January 2019.  We heard four excellent speakers who guided and provoked us to consider the topics of mindful technology and how to beat digital distraction.

While some delegates avoided the “digital distraction” of Twitter during the afternoon, the tweets from #MindfulTech19  indicate that delegates (and Twitter followers) found plenty to share!  Val Skelton wrote up an excellent overview of the event in her article Mindful tech – looking for new ways to engage with tech, work and nature.

All four speakers have kindly added their presentations to the MmIT Slideshare account:

The event also included the MmIT AGM for 2019.  Andy Tattersall stepped down after two years as Chair and the new MmIT Officers are:

  • Alison McNab (Chair)
  • Debbie Morris (Secretary)
  • Amina Choudhury (Treasurer)

#MindfulTech19 : start 2019 by resolving to manage technology rather than letting it manage you

The MmIT Committee warmly invite its group members and others working in the library and information community to our meeting of talks, incorporating the MmIT  AGM for 2018, on 9 January 2019.  Hot drinks will be provided and we have four excellent speakers to help us consider the topics of mindful technology and how to beat digital distractions.

The programme:

  • How to feel better without logging off  Dr Sue Thomas (Visiting Fellow at Bournemouth University and author of Nature and Wellbeing in the Digital Age). “Encounters with nature have measurable positive effects – heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down, stress melts away and the brain is more able to concentrate. This talk looks at how the same benefits can be gained by accessing nature in VR and online, and explains why we need more nature, not less technology. This is a chance to be mindful of the ways we connect to the natural world both on and offline”.
  • We aren’t addicted to our phones, we are addicted to being social  Dave White (Head of Digital Learning, University of the Arts London).  “Much of being mindful with technology involves us reflecting on our motivations to engage – are we making a positive choice or simply being pushed around by addictive platforms? Are we in control or simply feeding the data machine? A useful way to consider this is through the notion of personal agency. In this talk I will discuss how we can define clear modes of engagement when using digital technology and how we can retain our agency in an environment which has atomised knowledge and communication”.
  •  Mindful Tech: balancing work and life Antony Groves (Learning and Teaching Librarian, University of Sussex). “Last summer I blogged about mindful tech offering digital solutions to our digital problems.  Today I’ll discuss how I seek to bring balance to both personal and professional life through the mindful use of technology”.
  • 20 quick ways to beat digital distraction Andy Tattersall (Information Specialist, University of Sheffield). “Did your New Year Resolutions include making 2019 less digitally overwhelming?  This talk will take you on a whistle stop tour of 20 ideas and technologies to help you beat digital distraction”.

Date: Wednesday 9 January 2019 1-4.30pm

Venue: CILIP, 7 Ridgmount Street, London WC1E 7AE

Free to attend; book online at

MmIT is a Special Interest Group of Cilip, the UK’s library and information association.

Save the date: MmIT’s #MindfulTech19

Is it too early for New Year Resolutions? Worried about technology taking over your life? Then start the year with CILIP MmIT as we consider Mindful Technology for our January 2019 half day of talks incorporating our 2018 AGM. Four speakers will consider how to manage technology rather than let it manage you, including discussion of mindful technology and how to beat digital distractions.

Date: Wednesday 9 January 2019 1-4.30pm

Venue: CILIP, 7 Ridgmount Street, London WC1E 7AE

Free to attend; bookings now open

MmIT Join #uklibchat Technology in libraries. Monday 3rd September 7.00-8.30pm BST

Join #uklibchat this September with MmIT Chair Andy Tattersall and committee member Christina Harbour to discuss the ever growing and changing topic within Libraries, Technology. cropped-uklibchatskysegoe

We will have a featured post in the next few days, along with some articles (keep an eye on Twitter) for now the Agenda is up and running so please add your questions.

This is open to all sectors of the library profession, so feel free to pop along on Monday the 3rd of September at 7pm, as usual, join in using the #uklibchat hashtag to make your voice heard.

Mindful tech: digital solutions to our digital problems

MmIT Committee member Antony Groves writes: 


Freshers’ Week is on the horizon, signalling the Autumn term will soon begin, and that some of us will shortly enter the busiest time of our working year. While we are planning how best to support our new and returning students, we should spare a thought for our own wellbeing. One way of grounding ourselves during this busy period is mindfulness. If our days are a chain of events, mindfulness encourages us to focus on one link at a time.

Tomorrow, Jisc’s Building digital capability project will come to an end, transitioning to a full service in September. Through this project, they have developed a digital capability framework to “describe the skills needed by staff from a wide range of academic, administrative and professional roles to thrive in a digital environment” (Jisc, 2018). This framework contains six elements including one that is conceptualised as encompassing all others: digital identity and wellbeing.

Jisc Digital Capability image

Jisc’s definition of digital wellbeing includes the ability to “manage digital workload, overload and distraction” and show “an understanding of the benefits and risks of digital participation in relation to health and wellbeing outcomes” (2017, p.3). This is particularly important now that many institutions equip their staff with mobile devices.

Certainly, these tools are invaluable. Being able to update a presentation with an iPad or respond to emails on the go allows us to make the most of our time but it can also become too much. We may not be in the office but reaching for our smartphone as soon as we wake can instantly transport us from our bed to our desk. It is a very short step from checking Twitter to sending email when social media and tablet computing have led to the conflation of personal and professional.

For me, the answer to switching off is not simply to shut down my device when I leave the office. There are professional networks and conversations in which I choose to participate outside of work. Stopping notifications and updates from apps does not necessarily solve the problem either; using this strategy actually led me to login more frequently to make sure that I had not missed anything. Trying to ignore alerts and emails is not the only approach though. There are a range of tools that can help us to engage with technology in a more deliberate and mindful way, and enhance our wellbeing as a result (along with other positive workplace outcomes). For example, I use the following:

  • MyAddictometer: described as a “productivity tool” this free app allows you to quickly and easily analyse your phone usage in a visual way. The timeline functions identify specific times of the day and week when usage creeps up. This is a good place to begin thinking about your digital wellbeing.
  • Forest: this app encourages you to stay off your device by growing a virtual forest that relates to the length of time you manage to resist using it. For example, ten minutes of focus will give you a small shrub for your forest whereas two hours will reward you with a towering digital evergreen. Not only that, but Forest partners with Trees for the Future to plant real trees so you can feel even better about not using your phone.
  • Headspace: provides guided meditations, animations, articles and videos about mindfulness. You can sign up for free to use a limited number of these resources but a subscription is required to access everything. In the packs you can find guided meditations grouped around a particular theme. For example in the Work & Performance packs, there are ten sessions each on Prioritization and Productivity, and thirty sessions to help with Finding Focus. There are also single mediations covering Mindful Tech, Presentations and more. I most often use the walking and commuting meditations on the way to and from work; actually using the phone to enhance my wellbeing.

UK Universities are making time for mindfulness and the emerging discipline of contemplative management aims to enable this. When the new academic year begins think about your digital wellbeing and, using tools like those above, let the mindful use of technology bring balance to both your personal and professional life.