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How to Establish Healthy Digital Boundaries with Daniel Sih
Episode 1135th October 2022 • This Shit Works • Julie Brown
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What would our lives be like if we had time everyday where we disconnected, not just from our phones, but from our computers, our televisions, our iwatches. Would we feel a sense of relief at the ability to disconnect and just be present in our non digital surroundings? Think about all the things we do with our phones- calling, texting, emailing, navigating, booking ubers, listening to podcasts or audiobooks or the news, watching youtube, listening to music, playing video games, taking photograms, and, not least of all participating in social media. It’s tied to everything we do, and don’t do - it’s by our beside when we sleep, we never leave the house without it - because if we did we’d certainly miss it and stress out about not having it. 

So.  How do we establish annual, weekly and daily practices of self-care by unplugging from technology as a habit?

Listen in as I talk with Danieh Sih, a trainer, coach and an author of Spacemaker - How to Unplug, Unwind and Think Clearly in the Digital Age", a book which won the Australian Business Book Award in 2021, to talk about how to establish healthy digital boundaries. 

Drink of the week: Slow Down Shirley


Julie Brown:

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Danieh Sih

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Transcripts

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A little while ago.

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One of my friends told me he was practicing a thing called 24 6.

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Meaning that one day a week he was technology free.

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No email, no texts, no iPhone, no social media, nothing digital for 24 hours.

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One day a week.

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Every week, I was curious about whether I could attempt something

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like this, curious, but not curious enough to actually try.

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Not long after this conversation with my friend, our guest today reached

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out to me to ask if we could talk about his new book, Spacemaker how

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to unplug, unwind, and think clearly in the digital age, the book won the

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Australian business book award in 2021.

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Welcome to episode one 13 of the shit works and podcast indicated to

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all things, networking, relationship building and business development.

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I am your host, Julie Brown in today.

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I am talking with Daniel C.

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To discuss how to establish healthy digital boundaries, especially for

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those of you still working from home or in hybrid working environments.

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This episode is sponsored by Nickerson, a full service branding,

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marketing PR and communications agency with team members in Boston,

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Los Angeles, Miami and New York city.

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Visit them at Nickerson CS.

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Or com

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welcome to this shit works your weekly, no nonsense guide to networking your

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way to more friends, more adventures, and waiting more success with your host.

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Julie Brown.

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Here we go.

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Think about all the things we do on our.

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Calling texting, emailing, navigating, booking moves, listening to podcasts

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or audio books, or the news watching YouTube, listening to music, playing video

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games, taking photographs and not least of all participating in social media.

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It's tied to everything we do.

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And even things we don't do it's by our bedside.

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When we sleep, we never leave the house without it, because

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if we did, we'd certainly miss it and stress about not having.

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Yes, there are benefits to smartphones, of course, but what are the trade offs?

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When it comes to our mental health and social lives, we

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don't talk to each other anymore.

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Even if we are in the same house or on the same train or in the same restaurant,

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we are always consumed by our phones.

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Well, today my guest wants to teach us how to establish annual, weekly

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and daily practices of self-care by unplugging, from technology as a.

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And when we do this, we'll be able to think deeply restfully and enjoy a broad

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range of activities away from the screen.

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Daniel, welcome to the podcast.

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Thanks, Julie.

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It's great to be here online talking to you on zoom.

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online.

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Talking about how we can get offline as is the way the world is nowadays.

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Yeah.

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Well, there's again, there's good and bads in everything.

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You're in Australia and I'm in Massachusetts.

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And so this conversation couldn't happen without this medium.

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So yes, there's good and bad in all of it, I guess, but I'm gonna assume that

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you're passionate about this subject of making space and unplugging, because

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maybe you've struggled with overwork and productivity and being consumed

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by a digital lifestyle in the past.

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Is, am.

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Totally off base or am I right?

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No, you guessed it.

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Well, look, I'm a, I'm a business owner.

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I'm a family person.

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Uh, I love starting things, writing books, creating new projects.

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And so the, the downside of that type of personality, I'm, I'm

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sure you might guess is that I have run out of space in my life.

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And a lot of my life is digital.

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I mean, I just spend so much time talking to people in the state

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or overseas training, coaching, uh, using newsletters, et cetera.

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I definitely found myself a number of years ago, getting to the stage where I

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just felt just totally overwhelmed with how much time I was spending online.

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And it started slowly at first where I just started to feel like,

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you know, why am I always on Gmail?

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And why am I spending time on my phone when my kids are there?

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And I wish I was.

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Like in my head, I wanted to be present with my kids, but in practice I was just

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working or I was doing other stuff that was maybe less meaningful than that.

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And, uh, eventually I actually ended up having breathing issues and I

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started to feel breathless at, you know, when I was at conferences and

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then breathless speaking in front of audiences and then breathless,

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just being at the dinner table.

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And I realized, wow, this is this sense of feeling overwhelmed and soaked in

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work and tech and not resting my mind.

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Uh, as well as not resting my body.

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And so I went on a journey, uh, and that was anxiety that wasn't physical.

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I went and had tests and I started to realize, okay, something's going on here?

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I need a better, a rhythm in my life.

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And it's where I started to become passionate about the idea of making

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space, to think and rest and breathe.

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And.

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And to create a rhythm and a pattern, a cadence to our life where we unplug,

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uh, where we rest fully and particularly the things I'm passionate about are deep

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rest, deep thought and deep relationship.

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And, and all of them, if we're really going to experience them

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in the post, COVID always on era, it's gonna require a rethink of our

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relationship with our technologies.

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I like that word relationship.

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Obviously this is a podcast about relationships, different kinds of

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relationships, but I don't think I've ever thought of what I do with my

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phone as a relationship, but we do.

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And, and to begin to discover how we can make, maybe make space in our life.

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We have to understand what our relationship is with the online world.

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And maybe how complex that relationship is.

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And we don't even know that.

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So how, where does that discovery process begin?

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Like how can we understand our relationship in the online world

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that we have for the online.

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It's a really critical question.

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We absolutely have a relationship with our phones.

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I mean, even if you think about it, you know, many of us just are in bed,

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let's say with a spouse or a partner mm-hmm and rather than pillow talk

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and ending the day processing, what happened with, you know, the person in

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bed next to us, we're making love to our devices and having a relationship.

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Do you know what I mean?

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Instead of, you know, having a relationship with our spouse?

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I mean, so, so we are absolutely having a relationship and I think that's

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the best way to kind of frame it.

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There's a person called Jayman Fraser, who says that behavior is

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at the end of the assembly line.

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Uh, it's at the ASEN it's at the end of the assembly line of the

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factory of beliefs and story.

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And so what happens is we have a story about the world, uh, about

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what technology means to us about what it gives us and about our

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relationship with that technology.

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And then from that story comes a, an overflow of behaviors, which lead

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us to be always on and constantly connected and never able to switch

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off, uh, unless we shift our story and our paradigm of technology.

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It's very hard to shift our practices, which is why my book

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goes from the paradigm of tech.

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And then, uh, changes that before you can actually shift your behaviors,

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because like you said, the idea of, Hey, have a digital free day once.

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I mean, how complicated is that?

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Put your phone away, turn it off.

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I mean, it's not hard to understand mm-hmm , but I mean, most people are

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gonna get heart kind of palpitations at the idea of a whole day, you know, ever

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let alone once a week without a phone.

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And that's not about the technical side, that's not about the complexity of turning

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a phone off it's about the relationship you have and the codependence you have.

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Mm-hmm and the result of breaking that relationship.

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And, and what that might do to your heart, your mind, your emotions.

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And, and so that's where the work needs to start.

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I think in one of your materials, you referenced a research story about, I

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mean, you're Australian, I'm American, you mentioned a research story about how you

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Americans can't spend more than six to 15 minutes off their phones without wanting.

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To shock themselves with electricity.

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What is this?

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What is this study you're referring to

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Oh yeah, no, look, we're a lot better in Australia.

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We probably can go without our phones for six and a half minutes, you know?

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So but uh, no, look, there was this study in the university of Virginia,

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uh, a guy called Timothy Wilson and he, he wanted to find out actually

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how people found their own thoughts.

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It wasn't necessarily a technology study.

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And so we got people in a room for six to 15 minutes, it was a comfortable

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environment and he basically.

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He took away all the devices.

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And he said, just reflect on your own thoughts for that time.

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And he found that people almost like the majority of people said

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that that experience was painful.

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And so he was trying to work out wow.

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That, that people use the term painful to describe.

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Space and silence and, and reflecting on their own emotions and thoughts.

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And so he wanted to find out what they meant by painful.

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So he gave them painful electric shocks, which were so painful

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that people said they would pay $5 or more not to be shocked again.

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Okay.

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And then he put a new group of participants in the room after having

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being shocked and gave them the same experiment and said, look, sit for six

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to 15 minutes, reflect on your thought.

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Don't shock yourself, but you know, the machine's there, if I suppose you really

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want to and it was like 67% of men and 25% of, of women chose to give themselves

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painful shocks of electricity rather than sit without a device and think.

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Their own thoughts.

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And that says to me, we're in a, we have a culture where people are so used to

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habitually grabbing their phone or the toilet, you know, at the train station,

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you know, whenever you're even you're cooking dinner and you need to just

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scan the next Instagram or Twitter post, you know, we we've trained our brain.

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To be so hyper connected to the online world.

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So dopamine independent.

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Yeah.

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That we, we actually have to retrain ourselves to enjoy space because there

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is incredible joy in not being connected.

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And there's incredible meaning in it.

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But we need to practice it, which is such a new reality.

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The idea that we need to practice not being online.

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It's now a, it's a discipline now to learn to disconnect.

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And that's why I believe that space makers, people who want to be truly

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productive, not only use technology well, but they actually need to practice

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ING it at particular times in the day for their mental health, for their

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focus and for their relationships.

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So I'm gonna assume that COVID.

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Made our relationships with our technology even more important and hard to imagine.

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Not.

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That's my guess.

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I mean, we absolutely are using technology more than we used to,

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you know, more zoom meetings.

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Mm-hmm, more emails, more time online.

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So that's true.

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And yet I think what we're seeing is something that's a bit of a

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paradoxical relationship with tech because I was writing this book for

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six years before COVID well, five years of research and, and writing.

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And when I started the book, the idea that we Haven.

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An unbalanced relationship with the digital age and that we might

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be struggling with what I call digital overload or digital overuse.

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That was it wasn't foreign, but most people needed convincing.

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And then post COVID.

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No one needed convincing that we spent too much time online.

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We talked about zoom fatigue.

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Everyone was just brain dead.

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And, and we, we felt our relationships tethering, you know, we started

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to actually experience the true effects of digital overload.

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And because of that, I don't have to convince people there's a problem anymore.

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And so that's a good thing because I'm seeing a re correction, I'm seeing a

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rebalancing it's very slow, but rather than a conversation about, should we

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rethink our relationship with tech?

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Everyone would generally say.

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Now, the question is how do we do it?

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Where did we go wrong?

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And what is our vision of life, where we use technology regularly

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and enjoy it and value it, but where we disconnect regularly, because we

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need it for our health and humanity.

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So before we get into some of your tips and strategies for having digital

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free time in our life scheduled time in our life, some people.

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Actually say, well, maybe I won't be as productive or as effective in

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my job or in connecting with people, staying on top of what people are doing.

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If I'm not a hundred percent connected all the time.

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So what is your retort to maybe that argument?

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Yeah, just.

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Enormous amounts of research to say you're wrong.

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so, uh, it, I mean, let me think.

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How could I describe it?

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If you are an elite athlete and you never stop exercising,

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you never stop lifting weights.

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You never stop running and pushing yourself to the limit.

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Well, then you'd be a terrible athlete because your body wouldn't recover.

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I mean, that is how we are designed.

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Our, our brain needs to recover.

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That's why we sleep.

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You know, you could say, well, I always wanna get more

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productive, so I won't sleep well.

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If you don't sleep, you don't clear the chemicals in your brain.

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You don't put down learning signs, you, your body falls apart.

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You know, so sleep is an example of how the body is designed to rest

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before work and have a rhythm of rest and work in order to be your.

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Most mentally, and, and physically, when you look at it from multiple perspectives,

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it's the same with technology.

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So the brain, for example, if we just stick with the brain, let

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alone the body, the brain needs to slow down, not just for sleep.

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During times in the day it needs silence.

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It needs, and it needs a broad and diverse neurological experience

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because the brain uses up 20 to 25% of the body's entire energy

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reserves, which I think is incredible.

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Okay.

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One small organ and it takes up a quarter of your whole energy and

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that's why you get brain fogged.

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That's why you are mentally tired at the end of the day, when you are living in

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this kind of dopamine induced cortisol.

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Fueled kind of connection.

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Uh, if, if you have a really stressful day and you're always online, your brain

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is really tired because interactive technologies use up a lot of brain energy.

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We're not meant to constantly have novel feedback and stimulation.

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Mm-hmm , we're not designed to be in fight and flight mode constantly.

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And that's, that's what technology in new media.

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Creates in us, which feels interesting and engaging, and we need the

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adrenaline and yet it exhausts us.

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And then we come home and because we have nothing left in the tank physically or

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mentally, we end up on Instagram because we think that that will actually help us.

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Uh, it's meaningless because we have no kind of energy left to actually

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create music or to, to do a craft or to play board games with their kids.

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Right.

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Or to read or create something.

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And.

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It doesn't actually give our brain rest.

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So you end up in this kind of downward cycle where you're

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always online, constantly busy.

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You're feeling like your relationships are fraying.

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Like you are anxious, like you're ticking things off, but you're

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actually not doing the right things.

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And all of that makes us highly unproductive.

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So yeah, basically there are so many angles.

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I could look at this from relationships, neuroplasticity,

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culture, productivity research.

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But we need patterns of switching off if we are to be

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healthy, happy, and productive.

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So how do we begin to do that?

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How do we begin to schedule time within our life, within our

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days where we aren't connected?

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Hmm.

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I would say to begin with, again, it comes to the mental change, the heart change,

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you know, the idea of, oh, actually it would be, it would be great to.

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A coffee with someone mm-hmm and not need to check the phone for that hour

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and not even think about it, you know?

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And it would be great to be able to have some time where I'm writing in

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my journal or maybe sitting by the beach or, or just having a coffee

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and not being interrupted whatsoever because there's no tech in my life.

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Mm-hmm to have that desire to.

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To just to rest deeply and to actually feel like you can truly

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turn off your tech and not have to check Gmail on the weekend.

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Mm-hmm so that starts with a desire and then it goes to awareness.

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So what are your habits?

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I recommend people do a digital audit of their life.

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A bit like a food diary.

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So you'd actually look at, you know, when you wake up,

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what's the first thing you do.

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Do you reach for a smartphone to turn off the alarm and then what do you press next?

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Is it yeah.

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Is it Instagram?

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Is it Gmail, whatever it is.

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Uh, and why do you do that?

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You know, and then look at what happens when you clean your teeth.

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What happens when you go to the toilet?

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When, when do you, you know, et cetera, et cetera, and, and some of

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those habits are gonna be healthy.

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I'm again, it's not, I don't, I'm not an anti-tech person and it's not

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an anti-tech book, but it's trying to work out where are our habits?

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A bit skew with, uh, where are they being shaped by the shareholder

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of Silicon valley tech companies rather than our own values.

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And, uh, when you find those points, you can start thinking, okay, well,

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how might I change those habits?

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What if I was to charge my phone outside of my bedroom and not start with Gmail,

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have a shower, have a coffee right in my journal, or do some meditation.

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And then open up my phone 25 minutes after I wake up.

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Do you know what I mean?

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Like mm-hmm so, so it has to start with an awareness of what needs to

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change before you can change it.

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And then the last part is, yeah.

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Create some intentional rhythms where you make space by unplugging and

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unwinding and thinking clearly on an annual basis, like an annual pattern,

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which I can talk about or a weekly pattern mm-hmm , uh, or a daily pattern.

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Uh, so.

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The understanding is you are probably going to be almost always connected.

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I mean, the texture of your day, the texture of all of our days is likely to

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remain almost always online, but we need these intentional breaths, these, these

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pauses, which give us life and give us hope and, and give us new perspective.

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And, and we do that intentionally as a productivity discipline to make space.

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So when you said patterns, what did you mean by that?

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Hmm.

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Yeah.

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And a great question.

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I'm a believer that what we regularly do is who we become.

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Uh, so if, for example, we want to be fit and we say that physical activity

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and exercise is important to us.

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Well, you have to have a pattern, you know, you need to go to the

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gym three times a week or go for a run on a Tuesday at six o'clock.

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You know what I mean?

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So, so the patterns and rhythms, that's what I mean, the habits you might

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wanna say, or the routines that we.

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But it has to be a rhythmical thing.

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Otherwise, I think it's very hard to sustain these digital disconnect habits.

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If you rely on your brain to want to suddenly not need dopamine for

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the next hour on random at random times, it's probably a bit like

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saying I'm really unfit and I don't exercise, but I'm just going to go on

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my intuition and my kind of feelings to go for a run whenever I want to.

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It's just not that I'll cut it long term, assuming we need to

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schedule these digital breaks.

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Yeah, yeah.

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And habituate them.

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Is there a better time of day than other times of the day to be digitally free.

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Hmm.

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I, I dunno if I've thought through it like that.

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It's probably more, I think about what are some particular habits that are useful

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and then how might you put them in mm-hmm

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Uh, so like from a daily perspective, you know, we looked at Timothy

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Wilson study six to 15 minutes.

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One of my habits is how can you create daily pauses?

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Where for six to maybe half an hour, six minutes to half an hour, you're

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actually disconnecting and learning to enjoy a bit of space in the day.

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So, one I've already mentioned is what if you were to charge your

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phone outside of your bedroom?

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Maybe get an old fashioned alarm clock, or maybe an old iPhone that

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doesn't have any apps or a SIM card to wake you up, cuz you still need

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to wake up but not have the internet.

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So then when you wake up mm-hmm you just wake.

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And then, you know, what, if you were to bookend each day.

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So at the end of the day, you talk to your spouse or you read a physical book

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or reflect on the data in your day and, and how the day went and what the emotions

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of your day were when you wake up, what if you were to pray or meditate or just

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to think through what the day might hold.

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And when I woke up, I, I thought, okay, well, I'm having a chat with Julie.

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I better talk about how this shit works.

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Do you know what I mean?

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my mentor.

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My mentor kind of processing is preparing.

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Yeah.

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That's so different than if I'd open up Gmail.

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So that's one daily pause.

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Yeah.

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Uh, and I can give you other examples, but does that make sense?

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So that's habituating a pattern so that there's space to think and rest

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at particular points in the day I've been trying to, because my phone

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is my alarm, but I set it up where, cause I have an eye watch and I

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wear it to bed for my sleep pattern.

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And.

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I don't know how I did it.

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I'll have to research how I did this and put it in the show notes,

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but I set up my alarm that my alarm no longer goes off on my phone.

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It goes off on my watch and it's a silent alarm, meaning that it's,

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it's called the heartbeat alarm, uh, something like heartbeat alarm.

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And so it's, it's a pulse that happens on my arm and that's enough to wake me up.

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So I'm not being jarred from sleep by horrible noises.

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And I don't have to touch my phone after the alarm goes.

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Cause I can shut it off on I cans and shut it off from my watch.

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I don't know if that's still considered digital in your laws, but yeah.

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Now what I'm trying to do now, what I'm trying to do is not take the

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phone into the bathroom with me.

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cause that is immediately okay.

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I'm gonna spend however long scrolling through shit that is doing nothing.

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It won't help me prepare for my day.

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So that's what I've been trying to.

Speaker:

That's fantastic.

Speaker:

I mean, I, I'm not saying you have to, tech can be useful and really

Speaker:

helpful to help us disconnect from tech mm-hmm , uh, as long as you're,

Speaker:

it's actually working, you know?

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

So if you have, do not disturb on your iWatch, so you don't then, you know,

Speaker:

press it and it just wakes you up.

Speaker:

Well, it's a fantastic solution.

Speaker:

Mm-hmm uh, And, and again, what I'm hearing is you have an awareness.

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

Okay.

Speaker:

When I wake up in the morning, I'm having my shower, I'm in the bathroom.

Speaker:

It's actually really helpful to not suddenly be thrust into other

Speaker:

people's thoughts, to the worries of the world, to what's happening in

Speaker:

the Ukraine or what's happening on some, you know, influences kind of

Speaker:

newsfeed, like such a terrible way to.

Speaker:

To set off your mental processes.

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

Uh, and instead, you know, you've just slept.

Speaker:

So your brain is fresh, your, your brain is processed a whole bunch of stuff.

Speaker:

Uh, that's my most creative time.

Speaker:

I, you know, I'll be in the shower.

Speaker:

I mean, this is how I think.

Speaker:

And, and I'll suddenly have ideas about what to write

Speaker:

next or a framework to teach.

Speaker:

I'll start drawing pictures on the shower.

Speaker:

Just, just didn't, you know, using my imagination because I find that, um,

Speaker:

that's where my brain is kind of really.

Speaker:

And I killed that creativity when I was checking Gmail too early.

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

Cause I suddenly just thought about all the stuff I had to do.

Speaker:

So that's, it's just, those little habits can make a tremendous

Speaker:

difference to how you set up your day.

Speaker:

What I realized is, and I don't do this now.

Speaker:

I don't look at my email on my phone because what I realized

Speaker:

was I thought I'd responded and I hadn't, but then it was unread.

Speaker:

And so I was like missing out on responding to things.

Speaker:

So I.

Speaker:

I now have a rule that I don't look at Gmail on my phone

Speaker:

because I'm not productive.

Speaker:

I need to be at my computer to do it because this podcast is about networking.

Speaker:

And we're talking about being still being connected with ourselves

Speaker:

and maybe with our minds and with people face to face away from the

Speaker:

digital media digital platform.

Speaker:

I want you to tell us a little bit about your, a thing you call big dinner.

Speaker:

Mm.

Speaker:

Interesting.

Speaker:

Yeah, so I, I mean, I'm an introvert and, and yet, so I have this value

Speaker:

of contemplation and silence.

Speaker:

I think that's really helped me know who I am and.

Speaker:

And yet I also really value community and building relationships

Speaker:

and, and being in kind of thick, connected relationships with people.

Speaker:

So a number of years ago, we, well now more than more than a number

Speaker:

of years ago, probably 12, 13 years ago, we moved to Tasmania where I

Speaker:

live now, we didn't have any family.

Speaker:

We had very few friends, only a few new acquaintances, and we had

Speaker:

a young child pretty early on.

Speaker:

And we were like, well, how do we build community?

Speaker:

And, uh, we.

Speaker:

We ended up connecting with someone from our church community, and

Speaker:

we just got along well, but they, they wanted to live in connection

Speaker:

with people more regularly as well.

Speaker:

Mm-hmm so we started, I mean, we actually ended up buying land

Speaker:

and moving in together, but it actually started with a dinner.

Speaker:

We actually just said, what if we ate a dinner once a week?

Speaker:

Cuz we already live close to each other.

Speaker:

Mm-hmm what if we had a dinner once a week with each other?

Speaker:

It's not a dinner party.

Speaker:

It's a rough and ready.

Speaker:

And, you know, one week you make spaghetti bowl and the other week we

Speaker:

make it, we have to eat on a Wednesday.

Speaker:

Anyway, we've both got young kids, but it's a way of doing

Speaker:

parenting and life together.

Speaker:

Mm-hmm and that pattern continued and continued for until COVID.

Speaker:

And we've picked it up again.

Speaker:

Obviously we had a small break where we couldn't physically meet, but we

Speaker:

would eat online a lot of the time.

Speaker:

Yeah.

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Uh, and that's been for more than a decade.

Speaker:

The reason we ended up calling it big dinner is because after about six or

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seven years, our kids had grown up a bit and we thought, wouldn't it be

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good to just invite a few more people?

Speaker:

So, you know, sometimes we would invite one of our closer friends who then became

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friends with both of us and vice versa.

Speaker:

And then some of those friends loved the rhythm and the pattern of our life.

Speaker:

So.

Speaker:

That one of the couples actually decided to rent, uh, a unit literally next door.

Speaker:

And so when the rental came up, they moved mm-hmm and so we had three houses.

Speaker:

And then someone else down the street who we actually became friends with

Speaker:

over time and came to our dinner, sometimes a neighbor, they said, well,

Speaker:

can we join the big dinner circuit and we'll have it at our house.

Speaker:

So it became three houses.

Speaker:

Mm-hmm uh, and then another house popped up a few suburbs away and,

Speaker:

and that created another pattern.

Speaker:

And so really the idea of, again, a rhythm, a commitment to disconnect

Speaker:

from phones to, uh, have a face to face, rough and ready meal together.

Speaker:

And to just let it become part of the fabric of life.

Speaker:

It it's completely changed my life in terms of the depth of my relationships.

Speaker:

And I have these anchor points.

Speaker:

Mm-hmm, where rather than talking to someone on zoom, I have a face to face

Speaker:

connection with people I care about.

Speaker:

Mm-hmm and it's this weird thing where I thought about networking.

Speaker:

I actually have some pretty broad and wide networks and I do a lot of

Speaker:

it through zoom and conversations.

Speaker:

Like.

Speaker:

Overseas and, and around the world.

Speaker:

So on the one hand, because of being an author and a speaker, I have

Speaker:

these wide broad networks everywhere.

Speaker:

And yet for me, it only works because I have seven to, to 15

Speaker:

really close people who call my shit.

Speaker:

they, they they'll, you know, they'll tell me when I'm being a jerk and

Speaker:

they'll encourage me when I'm down.

Speaker:

I know I can go to them with anything at any time.

Speaker:

And with grief or loss with, with joy and hope.

Speaker:

And for me, I need both.

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

What I think is really important about that story is how, when you

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moved, you didn't have any family and you didn't have any connections

Speaker:

and you built that community as an.

Speaker:

Because a lot of times, I feel like people feel like if they don't already

Speaker:

have friends by a certain age or in proximity to them, then they won't

Speaker:

have the opportunity to make friends or they don't know how to make friends.

Speaker:

And I've said it on a podcast before the average American adult hasn't made

Speaker:

a new friend in the last five years.

Speaker:

And that breaks my heart more than anything, because I'm

Speaker:

constantly making friends.

Speaker:

So I love that you started off by saying, we didn't know anybody,

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we didn't have a community.

Speaker:

And so we made one cuz that will empower people to say, okay, where are, where

Speaker:

are the places in which I can go to meet people, to build a community around me.

Speaker:

If I don't already have.

Speaker:

Mm that's look, that's brilliant.

Speaker:

And we talked about patterns before, so obviously I had a fairly intense pattern.

Speaker:

You know, weekly dinner is fairly intense.

Speaker:

Mm-hmm like, it's fairly high commitment.

Speaker:

Obviously we live together.

Speaker:

So it's even more high commitment.

Speaker:

But I would say if you feel like you just you're lonely and you spend so much time

Speaker:

on your online, you work from home now and you don't even have the interpersonal

Speaker:

connections around, you know, at work then how can you get out of the house?

Speaker:

Intentionally start to connect with real people again in your life.

Speaker:

Because the research says that people who have physical face to face relationships

Speaker:

with multiple people, they live longer.

Speaker:

In fact, it's almost, it's a higher predictor of life, I

Speaker:

think, than giving up smoking.

Speaker:

It's amazing.

Speaker:

And online relationships cannot replace that.

Speaker:

So what if you were to have a coffee with someone you do know, uh, a friend.

Speaker:

You commit to a coffee once a month or even every two months.

Speaker:

What I've found is because I'm so busy, I find it really hard to commit

Speaker:

to kind of really high bar rhythms in terms of friendship and connection

Speaker:

mm-hmm . But if I commit to a coffee every two months with a friend or a beer

Speaker:

every two months, that doesn't feel too high commitment, but if you do it for

Speaker:

two years, you've really strengthened and solidified that friendship.

Speaker:

So again, it's about being intentional when creating that pattern.

Speaker:

And if you, if you are someone, you know, if that idea feels strange, you know,

Speaker:

going to a friend and saying, Hey, would you like to have a beer every two months?

Speaker:

Cuz that is a bit weird for a lot of people.

Speaker:

what I say is actually if you meet someone and you think I'd like to

Speaker:

spend time with this person, but I don't wanna freak them out, then

Speaker:

invite them for a beer and have a beer.

Speaker:

But choose a time when you know that you are going to try to habituate it.

Speaker:

Okay.

Speaker:

Mm-hmm and then, so have a beer.

Speaker:

Let's say, you know, a Tuesday night on the first Tuesday of the month, they

Speaker:

don't know that you're just speaking a beer and then at the end of that

Speaker:

beer say, Hey, that was really great.

Speaker:

Do you wanna do it again?

Speaker:

Sure.

Speaker:

How about this time?

Speaker:

Next month.

Speaker:

All right.

Speaker:

And so you do it that time next month, if you, and then the next month you

Speaker:

say, Hey, do you wanna do it next month?

Speaker:

Sure.

Speaker:

And by the time you've done it three times, it's a Pam.

Speaker:

And then it's easy to.

Speaker:

I like this.

Speaker:

Why don't we do it each month done.

Speaker:

And you haven't had that weird conversation, you

Speaker:

know, Hey, I need friends.

Speaker:

Do you wanna meet me every month?

Speaker:

so, so you can be intentional about how to create patterns and relationships

Speaker:

in a way that's actually quite natural.

Speaker:

Mm-hmm yeah.

Speaker:

So I'm gonna ask a question that has nothing to do.

Speaker:

Well, maybe it does.

Speaker:

Maybe you're gonna correct.

Speaker:

Your company offers a lot of corporate trainings.

Speaker:

And so I went through your website the other day to look at the

Speaker:

corporate trainings that you offered.

Speaker:

And one really just hit me hard because I have 22,000 emails in my inbox.

Speaker:

And you have a corporate training program called email ninja, is that correct?

Speaker:

And so even though it has nothing to do with being digitally, like taken a digital

Speaker:

hiatus or sabbatical, I'd really love for you to just really just top, you know,

Speaker:

30,000 view of what does the email ninja training do because I'm gonna need it.

Speaker:

That sounds good.

Speaker:

Now I, I, I dunno how to connect it, but I'm happy to talk about email.

Speaker:

20,000 is nothing you're doing fine.

Speaker:

I often coach people with 60,000 emails in their inbox and like 20,000 unreads.

Speaker:

So, you know, every there's digital redemption for

Speaker:

everyone, Julie, and look email.

Speaker:

I used to be a physiotherapist.

Speaker:

And so I was trained in teaching people to improve their physical habits.

Speaker:

And then when I became a productivity consultant and read lots of email

Speaker:

research, I realized that actually, that we need to know how to.

Speaker:

Outlook and Gmail and use the different functions, but that's

Speaker:

not where people get stuck.

Speaker:

Mm-hmm they get stuck because of their digital habits because of how they

Speaker:

approach email and how they set it up.

Speaker:

And so emailing just starts by teaching us that our inbox is just

Speaker:

a letter box, like the old post box, you know, we hardly ever use anymore.

Speaker:

It was designed to be a place where stuff comes in.

Speaker:

And then you, you work out where the letters go and you put 'em into places.

Speaker:

You have a workflow, like bills might go somewhere and letters might go somewhere.

Speaker:

You don't open up bills, say, I need to pay them, put 'em

Speaker:

back in the envelope and stuff.

Speaker:

'em back in the letter box and just keep working from your

Speaker:

letter box and then filling it with new letters and old letters.

Speaker:

And like, that's not how we, but hopefully that's not how we use our post box.

Speaker:

Right.

Speaker:

And so what if, what if you could treat your inbox like a

Speaker:

letter box where stuff comes in.

Speaker:

You don't work from your inbox.

Speaker:

You create some very specific workflows and then.

Speaker:

Point of view, you can then get your inbox to zero each day and actually

Speaker:

process stuff in a faster way.

Speaker:

Mm-hmm . And, and when you look at the types of letters or emails that come

Speaker:

into your inbox, there's really only five types that ever come your way.

Speaker:

You've got actions, which are like to dos stuff.

Speaker:

You have to complete reading.

Speaker:

So stuff you'd like to read, but you don't have to read.

Speaker:

You've got waiting.

Speaker:

So stuff you've delegated, and you're waiting a response on which

Speaker:

is not the same as an action.

Speaker:

You've got archive or filing.

Speaker:

I use them interchangeably.

Speaker:

Uh, so stuff you just need to file away on the, you know, the filing folders and

Speaker:

then trash the cross and you delete it.

Speaker:

So everything that comes your way only fits these five categories, the challenges

Speaker:

out of the box, outlook and Gmail and all these programs, don't really give you

Speaker:

workflows for how to manage your tasks.

Speaker:

Your to-do.

Speaker:

You're reading and you're waiting, um, tasks doesn't really work cuz it doesn't

Speaker:

follow good to do list methodologies.

Speaker:

It's a single level list, uh, Microsoft to do does work, but it's a different program

Speaker:

and you need some skill and training in that it's not embedded in email itself.

Speaker:

So we just recommend people create an action, a reading and a waiting

Speaker:

folder which become working folders and workflows where you can therefore

Speaker:

have a to-do list, a reading folder and a delegated management task list.

Speaker:

And then we teach you how to massively simplify your archives so that you

Speaker:

speed up your archiving like one folder or fivefolds not a hundred.

Speaker:

And we talk about the rationale behind that.

Speaker:

And then there's a whole lot of habits.

Speaker:

So this is just to set up the habits is the key bit.

Speaker:

How do you then read and process emails faster to get them out of your inbox

Speaker:

and to not get on that addictive churn?

Speaker:

Where the newest email determines what you do each day?

Speaker:

Mm-hmm so, anyway, emailing just gets you to zero and it

Speaker:

shows you how to stay there.

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

I had to shut off my email notifications cuz I was getting derailed by email

Speaker:

notifications cuz once it came across, I was like, oh that's important.

Speaker:

That's shiny.

Speaker:

That's new.

Speaker:

I'll do that.

Speaker:

. Look, one of the key tips and you've done it is to recognize email notifications.

Speaker:

They suck.

Speaker:

I mean, I work with corporations and so most people have two screens.

Speaker:

They've got one for email and one for everything else.

Speaker:

And they constantly constantly scan email in real time throughout the day.

Speaker:

Basically it means that their brain is being interrupted

Speaker:

every five to 15 minutes.

Speaker:

Uh, and we know the research in multitasking.

Speaker:

If you have, if you are doing something that's focused and important and you

Speaker:

have an interruption, even if it's just to look at a new email, scan,

Speaker:

the desk, desktop alert, like, and then go back to what you're doing.

Speaker:

It takes 15 to 20 minutes to get back into the zone.

Speaker:

So basically we no longer know how to focus.

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

And, uh, and the research shows that people who regularly scan emails in that

Speaker:

way, they feel more stressed at work.

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

And their crap at email.

Speaker:

Because you're scanning them, you're doing the Y and the ups, but you

Speaker:

don't actually know how to process.

Speaker:

So our methodology are to try to help you single task, your way to get your inbox

Speaker:

to zero, to manage your action folder.

Speaker:

And then to turn off all Gmail are all, you know, outlooks, not turn it

Speaker:

off, but to minimize it with no alerts.

Speaker:

Yep.

Speaker:

So that you can focus on a conversation or focus on an activity and not let email

Speaker:

determine the texture of every moment.

Speaker:

So I'm gonna relate to making I'm started to do well.

Speaker:

Cuz I block, I block off time during my day where I check email and then

Speaker:

I don't check it the other times.

Speaker:

So, and hon, honestly, Julie, if you are productive and you're doing what

Speaker:

really matters, who give, who, who cares that you've got 20,000 emails?

Speaker:

I mean, if it stresses you out, that's a, a problem.

Speaker:

And if you lose stuff and if you can't get back to people

Speaker:

who matter, that's a problem.

Speaker:

But I also think we, we make way too big, a thing of email mm-hmm and,

Speaker:

um, the key, the, the key in my mind is to get so good at email that

Speaker:

it stops shaping your priorities.

Speaker:

yeah.

Speaker:

And, and therefore you can live a better life.

Speaker:

You need to use email.

Speaker:

Well, in order to not take too much of your time, Daniel, this was amazing.

Speaker:

Your book, Spacemaker how to unplug a wine and think clearly in the digital age,

Speaker:

where can the listeners find that book?

Speaker:

Hmm.

Speaker:

So it's everywhere.

Speaker:

It's Amazon, it's an audio book.

Speaker:

How you get to hear this Aussie accent from, I was gonna say, did you do it?

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

And you know, obviously in ebook, so you'll find it everywhere.

Speaker:

Uh, if people are interested in the digital Sabbath and

Speaker:

the idea of a day off, yes.

Speaker:

The secret is not just the idea, but to how to actually plan it.

Speaker:

How to prepare for it.

Speaker:

Mm-hmm and how to actually habituate it.

Speaker:

So I've actually got free videos and downloads on my website if

Speaker:

you're head to spacemaker.com.au.

Speaker:

Okay.

Speaker:

I think slash book, I'm sure you can put links in the show notes.

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

I'll put links in the show notes.

Speaker:

I went there today.

Speaker:

Downloaded all of that today.

Speaker:

So when it said digital Sabba I was like, yeah, I need that.

Speaker:

thank you so much for being here.

Speaker:

I really, really appreciate.

Speaker:

No, it's great.

Speaker:

And, uh, , it's fantastic to hear, to have a conversation with someone

Speaker:

who's also doing some really good stuff, especially reflecting on

Speaker:

how you work and making space.

Speaker:

I can see that you do it already.

Speaker:

Mm.

Speaker:

I don't do it as good as you . That is for sure.

Speaker:

Before reached out to me.

Speaker:

And then before me doing my researching to him, I had never thought of

Speaker:

the idea that I have a relat.

Speaker:

It's my trunk.

Speaker:

When I look at it in that context of a relationship, I have to wonder,

Speaker:

is this relationship healthy?

Speaker:

Is it unhealthy?

Speaker:

Is it potentially toxic?

Speaker:

Is there anything in our lives at all that we don't take a break from other

Speaker:

than when we are sleeping, we aren't.

Speaker:

With the same people every minute of every day, no matter if they're spouse, kids,

Speaker:

friends, we aren't constantly working.

Speaker:

We aren't constantly eating.

Speaker:

We aren't constantly working out.

Speaker:

We aren't constantly drinking.

Speaker:

And yet we constantly have our phones with us in our hands, in the cup

Speaker:

holder of our car, in our purse, in our pocket, on the bedside table while

Speaker:

we sleep, this is a relationship.

Speaker:

And if you ask me a smothering.

Speaker:

When Daniel said that he would feel a tightness in his chest and

Speaker:

anxiety bubble up because of his constantly connected lifestyle.

Speaker:

I wanted to raise my hand and choke me too.

Speaker:

So what would our lives be like if we had time every day where we

Speaker:

disconnected, not just from our phones, but from our computers, our

Speaker:

television screens, our iWatches.

Speaker:

What do we feel a sense of relief that the ability to disconnect and just be

Speaker:

present in our non-digital surroundings?

Speaker:

Well, I, for 1:00 AM going to try it.

Speaker:

I'm gonna start small though.

Speaker:

Then I'll probably have to ask Alexa for a timer, which is ironic and sad

Speaker:

all at the same time, but I want to feel the freedom of that disconnect.

Speaker:

Maybe with 15 minutes, then 20, then 30.

Speaker:

So on and maybe one day it will be a complete 24 hours.

Speaker:

Like my friend, John in his 24, 6 lifestyle.

Speaker:

And maybe I really, really enjoy that seventh day of disconnect.

Speaker:

What do you think?

Speaker:

Could you do it?

Speaker:

Could you go a day, a whole day without anything digital?

Speaker:

Could you not check your phone?

Speaker:

Could you wear an old, tiny watch cook recipes out of cookbooks

Speaker:

and not from online sources?

Speaker:

You know, there used to be a time when that was normal.

Speaker:

Our work for the most part stayed at the office.

Speaker:

We didn't have the internet to doom scroll.

Speaker:

Every night we read books on paper.

Speaker:

We woke up to alarm clocks that we didn't bring into the bathroom with us.

Speaker:

I don't know I'm feeling nostalgia.

Speaker:

Now I'm old enough to remember when you left your computer at the office, when

Speaker:

mark didn't know your cell phone number or your home number for that matter.

Speaker:

I think we can give ourselves one day a week to get back in touch with the

Speaker:

slower, less connected way of length.

Speaker:

And what I would do in that slower, less connected way of life is take

Speaker:

time to enjoy this week's drink of the week, which I got from a website called

Speaker:

punch drink, and it's called slow down.

Speaker:

Shirley, the website says, this is a combination of quintessential

Speaker:

east coast, fall flavors.

Speaker:

And we are now.

Speaker:

Least for me on the east coast and it is the fall.

Speaker:

So here's what you're gonna need.

Speaker:

Three fourth ounce of lemon juice, three force ounce of ginger syrup, three fourth

Speaker:

ounce of apple Brandy one and a half ounces of cranberry Laur, a dash of Angus

Speaker:

store, bitters and soda to top it off.

Speaker:

In a cocktail shaker combine all ingredients except for the soda.

Speaker:

And she, with ice strain into an ice filled Collins, glass and top

Speaker:

with soda, water garnish with candy ginger, which is my absolute favorite.

Speaker:

If you have not had candy ginger, so good.

Speaker:

I buy it by the bagful and I eat one piece every morning in one piece every night.

Speaker:

All right, friends enough about what I do.

Speaker:

That's it for this week.

Speaker:

If you haven't already, please take a moment to write a review of the podcast.

Speaker:

If you like it and share it with your friends again, if you like it, if

Speaker:

you think somebody in your network would benefit from it until next week.

Speaker:

Cheers.

Speaker:

Hey, thanks for taking the time to listen.

Speaker:

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast.

Speaker:

So you never miss a tip and remember you can unapologetically

Speaker:

be who you authentically are and still be wildly successful.

Speaker:

That's a fact.

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