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Episode 01

Playful Experiments with Digital Tools—John-Paul Flintoff

How can we be more playful in our relationship with digital tools? In this episode we are inspired by the practices of the prolific writer and artist John-Paul Flintoff.

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About the guest

John-Paul Flintoff is the author of six books that have been translated into 16 languages, including How To Change The World. He previously worked for 15 years as a writer and associate editor on the Financial Times, the Sunday Times and other papers and magazines. He is also a speaker, performer, podcaster and artist.

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Episode notes

We all get the sense sometimes that we’re working on our digital devices in unintentional ways. John-Paul describes this, for him, as a “free floating, disembodied, frenetic quality and a sense of urgency and impatience”.

Listening to John-Paul reflect on his personal journey, it is clear that he has become really self-aware about how he feels when he is using technology. And impressively, he’s found a whole host of creative responses to that - from creating art on his iPad (to use his hands and do something non-verbal) through to switching to simpler, less distracting, online platforms for writing, and making beautiful scrolls out of stressful or overwhelming digital information.

By the end of this curious and exploratory conversation, you’ll be asking yourself questions about your own digital habits, how well they’re serving you, and wondering how you might want to switch things up.

Bonus content

Inspired by this conversation, John-Paul documented an exercise which he did to help him reflect on his own tech use. He took the time to draw a portrait of the home screen of his phone, using it as an opportunity to see what's there and assess it's value to him.

Intruiged by this, we asked JP to share a bit more about this process, so he recorded the following short video to give a bit more detail:

Tools and apps mentioned:

Resources mentioned

  1. A Modest Book About How To Make An Adequate Speech, by John-Paul Flintoff. In the conversation he talks about how he did the research for the book, by writing things down by hand in a way that he internalised it.
  2. Comparing Memory for Handwriting vs Typing. One of many research studies demonstrating that handwriting notes improves learning and memory.
  3. Digital Habit Lab card:Avoid inbox until afternoon. This was the card about email management that John-Paul said he really wanted to experiment with. (Mind Over Tech also run an online course on how to spend less time in email - get in touch for details!)

Get in touch

Send us feedback, suggestions, or questions about anything you’ve heard or would like to hear:

The Digital Habit Lab Podcast is produced by Menka Sanghvi and Jonathan Garner. Thanks to Jack Fletcher for audio engineering chops and music.

Show Contributors

  • John Paul Flintoff
  • Menka Sangvhi