Q & A With Anne-Laure Le Cunff - How can we be more mindful using technology?


Anne-Laure Le Cunff is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and community builder. After working at Google in San Francisco, where she managed global marketing for digital health, she moved to London to start Ness Labs, a venture studio developing products focused on wellness, creativity, and culture. Her work has been featured in WIRED, Forbes, and more. She is also a MSc of Applied Neuroscience candidate at King’s College.

This interview talks about her chrome extension, Teeny Breaks as well as how we can encourage better mindful practices.

What is Teeny Breaks?

Anne-Laure: Teeny Breaks is a simple Chrome extension offering mindfulness tips every time users open a new tab. All of the tips are science-based, with links to the corresponding research papers. It was built in 24 hours on Twitch, incorporating input from the community.

Why did you decide to create Teeny Breaks? How did you decide what tips to provide?

We talk a lot about productivity. Startup founders and indie makers have ambitious goals and packed schedules. It can be hard sometimes to take a break when everything feels urgent. I decided to create Teeny Breaks to help people incorporate mindfulness into their workflow in a non-intrusive way, using a tool they were already spending lots of their time in: their browser.

I noticed that the majority (if not all) of your tips involving stepping away from screens, was that on purpose?

It is. It is tempting to use your breaks to catch up on Twitter or Instagram, when really the most effective way to recharge is to step away from your screen, take a short walk, and relax your mind, your body, and your eyes.

In your opinion, do you think people can use mindful-tech based applications and maintain a consistent level of mindfulness?

I think it is impossible to ignore the fact that we spend most of our time either on our laptops or on our phones. So mindful-tech applications are not only an option, they are essential to capture our attention and remind us to be mindful of our mental and physical health.

From a maker’s perspective, how do you think we could make our applications so that people can be more mindful?

We need to break away from the toxic patterns of baking addictive features into our products. A great product is one that allows us to get something useful done, and then move on with our life. It is the inherent risk of products designed around basic human needs, such as love and social recognition: they make us crave for more. On the contrary, mindful applications should not push us to use them more. They should help us be better at what we do, full stop.

Thank you Anne-Laure for taking the time to let me interview you and share your insight. Right now, Anne-Laure is working on Maker Mag a community driven magazine dedicated to indie maker culture. Check it out! If you’re working on something and would like to be featured in a future edition of Society x Tech fill out this form.