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Jan. 5, 2023

194. Making Space to Use Digital Technology Intentionally & Healthily with Daniel Sih

Be happier, healthier & more productive by using technology when it serves you and unplugging intentionally when it’s best to take a break.

Be happier, healthier & more productive by using technology when it serves you and unplugging intentionally when it’s best to take a break.



Daniel is the co-founder of Spacemakers®, a productivity consulting group for busy leaders.

His book "Spacemaker - how to unplug, unwind and think clearly in the digital age," won the Australian Business Book Awards in 2021 (best personal development book).

As a trainer, coach and keynote speaker, Daniel has worked with CEO’s, executives, and other senior professionals throughout Australia and beyond. His professional history includes leadership roles in physiotherapy, health management, project management and Christian ministry.

He is also the founder of a number of globally-accessible productivity courses such as Email Ninja®, List Assassin®, Priority Samurai™, with more than 20,000 students online and offline. 










The hardest practice of the lot relates to this conversation, which is the digital Sabbath, or the weekly day of rest is what I call it in the book. It's a day, a week where you actually have a day of rest. A deep, true, significant day of rest, which is not a day where you're running around dropping the kids off every kind of activity that you've precommitted to and you're doing jobs around the house and catching up on your washing and doing bills or just watching lots of television. It's a day where you design it intentionally so that you rest your brain as well as you rest your heart as well as you rest your soul.


Welcome to the Three Day Weekend Entrepreneur Podcast, where we help you create the personal and professional life you most desire, impact more people and make more money in less time. Do what you do best so you can create the life you want outside of work and better enjoy your family, your friends and your life. Go to to join our community for free. Welcome, everybody. I'm super excited to have Daniel C with us today. He's going to talk to us about making space in the digital age and how you can just make more time for enjoying life and still balancing gain the most out of technology and the wonderful things we can do with that without it being something that really creeps in on or takes away from your personal life. Thanks so much for joining us today, Daniel.


Yeah, good to have this time to talk. Thank you so much for having me on the show.


Absolutely. So Daniel is the co founder of Space Makers, a productivity consulting group for busy leaders. His book Space Maker, which I've been listening to and is really good, won the Australian Business Book Awards in 2021 for the best Personal Development book. It's all about how to unplug, unwind, and think clearly in a digital age. As a trainer and keynote speaker and coach, he's worked with CEOs, executives and other senior professionals throughout Australia and beyond. And his professional history includes leadership roles in Physiotherapy, health management, project management, and Christian Ministry. And he also has some apps that he has over 20,000 students with around courses such as Email, Ninja, List Assistant, or List Assassin, excuse Me, Priority Samurai and more. So I'm already from our pre interview and from listening to his audiobook, it's already wade a shift in my life. It's helping me simplify things. So I'm so grateful to have him here. And as I always like to start out, Daniel, maybe just share a little bit about your story you and I talked about when you started working and then how that sort of shifted for you and got you to where you're doing right now.


Yeah. So look, I used to be a Physiotherapist I think you call them physical therapists in the States, and I was a clinician and then I moved into a management role in health, managing lots of staff and projects. And I entered that kind of typical middle management sandwich where I started to realize that I'd had all this training as a physiotherapist and I'd learnt anatomy and physiology, and yet I had no idea how to manage my email inbox or how to lead staff or how to do all those things that actually were my job nowadays. And so that took me on this productivity journey where I started to read David Allen and Stephen Covey and Leo Borto and a whole lot of other minimalist people and organizational consultants. And I just realized, wow, there's this entire world of how do you actually organize yourself, which relates not only to your work life, but also to your personal life. And it requires you to think about your why and your purpose. I was like a pig in mud. I just fell in love with, I don't know, I suppose you'd say productivity or personal development. And it ended up leading me on a journey where I started this course called Email Ninja.


And we literally went to a company and said, you know, there's me and this other guy, my, my other co director of our company. We said, we're two schmucks and we don't have any training experience, but we want to help you improve your email management. And they said, if you get eight people to do the course, well then you're off and running and we got eight people. And so Email Ninja launched and eventually that became a productivity consulting business. And now obviously I have a book and I speak and I coach. That was more than a decade ago. So that was a bit of my journey.


That's awesome. And so one of the things I like about your approach is I think you have a very real approach to things. A lot of people I find, either put a halo around technology or they demonize technology. And as somebody who has children, where the first responses parents sometimes might be, okay, let me protect them from everything that's out there. And yet at the same time it can be no different than saying, okay, I'm going to shelter my kid till they're 18, teach them nothing about the real world and then unleash them upon it, send them to college and cross my fingers and hope everything goes okay. And so there kind of needs to be, I think, a middle ground because so many people are embracing it. And I like that you got into that conversation and then you talked about in the book this concept of downshifting. Can you share a little bit about what that means and how you came to that and how that helps people?


Yeah, that's a good question. It's a bit different than what I thought you'd ask, so I'd have to think about it. So downshifting is not a term I use a lot but I probably think of myself as a downshifter. So I heard that term probably 15 years ago, and it really means people who are intentional in making the choice to work in a job which pays less or to work fewer hours in order to earn less, in order to experience other things that they value more than that high paid job and that extra income that comes our way. Because I see the world in terms of five capitals, that you have relational capital or you have financial capital, obviously how much money you can invest, relational capital. So the depth of your relationships, both a family relationships, but also across your community, intellectual capital. So what you're learning in your mind and how your brain is being stimulated not just with information, but with the application of that which is wisdom, physical capital. I'm a physical therapist. I value physical health and energy and spiritual capital. I have a ministry background, so really value spiritual wisdom and being able to see the world in a much deeper way than what we see before us.


So I suppose a down shifter realizes that you don't want to just shape your life around one capital. You want to actually look at your life as a whole and be retention. And that always involves trade offs. You cannot be a millionaire or a multimillionaire and have an amazing family, look like the Rock in terms of at least get strong and physical. You can't have it all and be a spiritual mindful prayerful guru. It just doesn't work that way. Life is trade off. So downshifting is just that, intentional trade off to make sure you have time for family, for faith, for friends. And there's a big cost. It's easy to downshift in some ways for a year, but I've downshifted for a decade. And it's hard to recommit to that day in, day out when you want to take an overseas holiday and when you'd love to have a better house or a new renovation on your house. Do you know what I mean? But it's that knowing your why and choosing to live in that, even if it's painful and you sometimes regret, did I make the right decision? But overall, I'm very thankful for the capitals in my life and the portfolio of investments in my life which would have been different if I'd kept going up the corporate ladder.


Does that answer your question?


That so answers my question. And what's so interesting to me about that is that so aligns with your description of that. What I've experienced. I try to I say it in a different way to people. I say, look, every time I hit my income goal in less time, I work less, I don't look to make more money. And in my case, a lot of it has been driven by my, I guess you'd say, role identity as a father to say, okay, I want to be present for my children. And I have that as a very intentional goal. And to your point, it stinks when sometimes some of the other people say, well, we're going here or we did this many trips or and you say, okay, we could do that or that, or we can go in this sort of way and there are trade offs. And as much as I am a both and person, I think there's still the reality. I mean, by definition there are certain things you can't be, you know, you can't be single and married at the same time, at least in the truest sense of the world. You can pretend to be, that's a different conversation.


But you can't really do both at the same time. You can't be 100% committed to your family and 100% committed to your work. And that's not to say there can't be balanced, but there's still to your point, there's always some sort of trade off. And I always think about it from a standpoint of can I live with the trade offs I make? And on the flip side, in the years when I have every once in a while had a year where, let's say I had a breakout year, made much more money than I thought, and I had an extra 1020 $30,000 sitting around. And then I realized how kind of quickly I went through it because I almost wasn't used to having that extra, let's say, planned for certain stuff. And my wife would come and say, well, slow down, we don't have to spend it all yet. I'm like, why? I'm just not used to having this around, because I'm so used to okay, we're going to do this, we're going to do that. And then when you get a chance and then I also see very quickly you mentioned about staying committed to it, where this little voice would say, oh, well, wait.


If you just worked a couple more, if you just worked every other Friday, if you just here's, how much more? And then as much as I've ever found any trip to be awesome, I still look to my default every week life, if you will. And I love my life the way it's my default week. So it's great to go on a trip, it's great. But I don't consider that in my life. That's an outlier from my life. And so it is intentional. It can be painful. It's not always like, yay, this is so awesome. I don't get to go to this trip that other people are going to because I chose to have more free time. And yet and the other time it's like, oh, okay, it's Friday. I'm at the beach, or It's the weekend, I'm hanging my kids. I'm at a certain pace and I love gosh. I still want to get into this with you of the space and pace thing, of just that, of just being comfortable with the pace I'm going at and the amount of rest I get. So maybe Shark Tank little bit about that. So for people who are into whether it's yin yang or rest and activity, I love, in fact, I've heard anybody describe it so clearly to you the difference between space and pace.


Would you share a little bit about that?


Yeah, look, even going back to what you were describing, I might lean into that. So when I'm doing a keynote address, what I'll often do is I'll be talking and I like to break people's schema and help them remember something. And so I'll often maybe cough as if I've got a dry throat and I'll be talking and start pouring a glass of water during the keynote. But I'll just keep talking and not pay attention and the water will overflow and then I'll get embarrassed and it will flow even more and everyone's shocked because I've just poured water all over the table. And then I'll just keep doing it. And it's obvious that this is a gag, right? But my point is that I say that the water glass the glass represents our finite time, our capacity and our ability to think and rest, to watch Netflix episodes or take our kids to school, drop off and pick up. Like it's all we have. We only have 4000 weeks. As Oliver Bergman says, we only have a particular amount of time that's in our life, we only have a particular amount of time in each day.


And the water represents our overflowing reality. In the digital age, particularly where in this environment, where there is so much information, there is so much consumptive pressure, there are so many great options that I could do with my life that you will never get all the things done in your inbox or your todo list and have an amazing family and all that kind of stuff. So therefore, if we are in this totally absurd overflowing environment you can either drown in it or you can thrive by accept it's, really. Acceptance. You'll never finish every Friday and have everything done you'd love to do. So what goes into the glass first? What are the most critical things that you put in and then also define, what do you allow to flow out? And that allows for me, I'm a type A personality. I love organization. I hate mess. When I garden, I like it happen into rows even if I don't produce as much as if I just scattered seed everywhere. But at the same time, if we're living in this overflowing environment, then that's our context and we have to put the first things in first.


And that takes a bit of maturity to start to work out boundaries and what needs to be on first. Hopefully that's helpful for a context from what you were talking about. But you asked about pace and space and that came out of the research and the reading really behind my book, which is I'm a productivity person and I coach leaders and executives. And I started to realize that there are leaders who are just really good at technology and really bad at work. They're frantic, they talk fast, you can see the cortisol in there. Like just the pace in which they move. They make decisions quickly and then they change those decisions and just who they are isn't someone you would want to follow and that infects and impacts all of their life and all their decisions. Does that make sense? I'm sure you know, people like that and there's this sense where using too much technology wasn't making these people more productive even though they had all the right apps and they knew how to integrate them and all that stuff. So I'm like what's the relationship between technology and productivity? Because the culture says more technology means more productivity.


It's like a linear relationship. But if you graph out what actually happens and if you're not watching the video, you'll just have to imagine an upside down you that's actually the relationship between tech and productivity. So you need tech to be productive. Using technology is essential in our day and age. It's not this binary good or bad relationship like you mentioned. We need to be tech savvy. But then you reach this plateau where more technology doesn't equal more productivity. It's like this productive middle. But then if you keep using it, waking first thing in the morning and last thing at night, reaching for your phone, you're checking in the shower, on the toilet when you're with your kids, all you can think about is your Instagram feed or how many emails you're getting into your inbox. Once your life becomes completely absorbed by this online world, you slide down that opposite right hand side of the curve and more technology makes you less happy, less healthy as a human, and also less productive. And post COVID, I reckon almost everyone in culture has shifted to the right of that curve where we are in digital overload that is normal now that's the overflowing glass.


And so much of what we put into our cup is digital tech and a lot of it is meaningless. If you think about would you really put it in above spending time with your kids or exercising or having sleep or eating something healthy? Would you really put it in if you were intentional? Like that extra Netflix series or that extra hour scrolling Instagram photos of people you don't really care about. But we do it and we're filling our glass up with stuff and trading off real life and then the real life is flowing out of the cup rather than being put in. So to answer your question about pace and space, if you imagine that you curve, I believe we now need two sets of productivity skills or habits. And one is new so that the old set are the habits of keeping pace, which are the left hand side habits. So you're using technology to be productive. That's how I started my business. I teach people to get their inbox to zero. That's my email ninja course. I teach people to get things done using projects and tasks all the David Allen stuff we call that list assassin and how to use technology and to integrate it into your life.


That's the habits of making pace. We have to be good at that to be productive but the yin to the yang, the white to the black is the space making habits or the habits of making space, not pace and they're the habits where you are shifting from the right hand side of that curve and returning to the productive middle. They're the minimalist habits, they're the habits where you are I mean essentialism fits in that. It's the habits where you are unplugging from technology in a rhythmical intentional way not accidentally that you're creating space in your life for the things that matter you're putting the things in your glass that matter most by unplugging from tech where you are resting in an intentional way. Deep rest needs to be learnt. It's not something that most of us will experience by default. Nowadays, because of our context, we are learning to think deeply and reflect, contemplatively, enjoy space, and so basically slow down and be human, not be a cyborg. A half human, half machine. And that's where we find the joy nowadays. And I think most of us need to learn, focus more on the space making habits to return out of digital overload into healthy, normal life rather than have to focus on the habits of pace.


Although typically you need both running at the same time. It's paradoxical. Life is not binary in the sense of it's complex and you need to work on both sides at the same time. There's a long answer, but I think the context is important for listeners so they understand that this isn't just throwing ideas out of nowhere. But we actually need a new framework for understanding what productivity and health and happiness looks like. Because we are bombarded by so much tech, we will almost never be offline if we don't design into our lives. Does that make sense?


Absolutely. I think of it as a relationship in a similar way of an athlete because I've over the years been involved in athletics and I always enjoyed playing, not as much training. Sometimes I'd get fastened by a certain aspect like okay, how do I shoot a jump shot? How do I jump serve a volleyball in a certain way so I might get obsessed with that for a while and then really dive into that, and then I would reach it really was kind of a diminishing returns thing of, okay, I'm good enough, a whole lot more, and this isn't going to get me a whole lot better. And now, especially at my age, it's about, well, if I want to keep playing volleyball, then the space. The rest is important. If I just keep going, and not only just because of age, but even within a week, if all you do is pace, pace, pace, practice, practice, play, you're going to get hurt, you're going to get injured. And finding that balance, which seems to shift over time, depending on your age, your life situation, your priorities, family being around or not, all these different variables.


And yet it seems to me that some people don't even see that as a variable in the equation. And so the equation is only will either hustle at 80%, 90%, 100%, harm 20%, or whatever, as opposed to, well, no, hustling. Yes, there's a skill to hustling activity, yang, whatever word you want to call that. But there's also actually a skill to relaxation. And I remember reading a book on nutrition for athletes and sports psychology, and it was so much about, look, if you're not well rested, your mental game is going to not do well. And then if you're over tired, you're not physically rested, or if you don't have good nutrition, that's going to hurt you. So it's more of, again, this holistic picture, as opposed to, well, either you're on and you're doing work and that's great, or you're just off and you're lazy and that's bad, and do that as little as possible because you're messing up or you're not tough enough. And it'd be bad enough if those analogies only stuck on males because of sometimes how we're socialized. But even the women, then the demands to be the stay at home mom and the working mom and make the money, all these different things, that, again, it's still a different form of toughness.


But still this expectation of just going on and on, as if there is some sort of prize for that. It's almost as if I were to say to you that, you know what, Daniel and I are going to go to? We're going to go out and get a drink and watch a football game. And what I'm going to do is I'm going to measure our quality of time together by how many words I spew it, Daniel, like, how many words can I get in without him leaving? Because that's another variable. As opposed to, now we're going to watch the game, we're going to talk, he's going to talk some, I'm going to talk some. And that there being a quality, not just a quantity approach, and not getting obsessed in the quality either. Because if it's just quality, well, then I'm just going to meditate under the bodie tree forever and never do anything. Well, you're eventually going to starve. So that's not either. And it's so interesting to me because I just find that approach to people, even the quantity versus quality, you and I were talking about this ahead of time. There are just certain people in business that might be the same exact topic as you.


Although ours is kind of unique to this. But if they're too fast or too slow or too then you're like, well, it's good, but it almost feels like it's just too intense or it's too serious. And so I think that sense of the whole idea that when you're driving while you're driving on the road, whoever's going faster than you is a maniac. Whoever's going slow, you is an idiot. Finding not just the people that are at your pace and just saying, well, everybody else is one bad thing or another. But being able to perhaps realize, well, I can play with these variables and I can do something about that. And one of the things that you mentioned a little bit when we talked was a concept of a spirituality of time. And this sort of sense, if I understood it correctly, of being a little more intentional. And you definitely mentioned earlier, like these five, you know, these multiple dimensions of life as opposed to what's? Just productivity. There's the relational, there's the the financial, there's the spiritual. There's different pieces. And would you share a little bit about that kind of what that can look like and how that can be something that maybe people are just not even aware of?


Because it feels to me some people are looking at their life with either one or two measures and there's eight to ten to 15 other ways they could be measuring their life. And if they looked at it that way, they might say, oh, wow, I'm doing great financially. But wait, I'm missing my emotional, mental, spiritual dimension. I'm missing my relationships, or whatever it might be. How does that spirituality of time kind of start out? How do you do something with that?


That's a big question. Let me answer by maybe expressing some of my journey. So I'm a type A person. I love work. Part of the reason I read a quote by Richard Bark that said we teach best what we most need to learn. And I need to learn how to rest deeply and how to make space. I'm not the kind of person that just loves having a beer with people and hanging out with people. I'm not all just relationship first and rest first and then I work because I have to motivate myself. I love work so much that I have to discipline myself not to work. And that's a challenge. And the reason I say that is I suppose I started this journey realizing the importance of disciplining myself to not work constantly and to have rest and have time to think deeply in. And I saw it from a productivity lens. So yes, if you work 60 hours a week constantly, well, then the research says you end up being as productive as if you're working 30 hours a week. But you can't see it because of sleep, debt and exhaustion and all that kind of stuff.


So it's like, okay, I need to rest. I need to spend time with friends. I need to examine my pray and have a faith because it helps me get more done. Okay? But that that is that was maybe the first step of my journey. And I learned some great skills. I created a rhythm and a pattern in my life. And I actually really believe we need these patterns and rhythms of rest and thinking and exercise. And so you're kind of balancing those five capitals to a certain extent. But then I started to move through this, like, this sense that actually have I just adopted the cultural norms and story of America and Australia, this kind of capitalist view of the world where the only reason that rest and relationships and thought is valuable is because it's economically viable. I get more Adam. I'm more productive because I'm resting. Like, even the question in some ways the way you framed it has that mindset behind it that actually how do we justify rest and humanity and the things that give us life and joy because they're economically helpful or they increase our productive output? And that's just a dumb way of looking at the world because why should I justify spending time with my kids and playing board games or bike riding or sitting and looking at a eucalypt and smelling the fresh air?


Why should I justify that from a productivity perspective? When did that stop being valuable in and of itself? When did I need to measure my humanity by my output? Does that make sense? And so I went through this journey where I'm like I mean, I still think like that because I love getting stuff done and I'm a productivity person. But I started to realize, actually, firstly, I have to recalibrate why I do this. And that comes to the story of my life. A guy called Jamie Fraser says that behavior is at the end of the assembly line of the factory of story and belief. So my beliefs, my identity, and the way I see the world is shaping my view of rest and work. And in the book, I spend a lot of time talking about paradigm and the paradigm or the perspectives of technology and the relationship we have with the online world because if you can't shift that, you won't be able to shift your habits to rest and unplug and unwind. And then in terms of the spirituality of time, I came I suppose I ended up then looking at it from a different lens but still learning all these techniques.


And I found myself years later just smashed by work as my business grew. And I was teaching people about this overflowing glass and I just found myself with no time and I was just desperate for space and how did I get here? Again? It's almost like I'd learnt the lesson and then I was back exactly where I started, which is so. True of the spiritual life or even just the journey of life. But it's not that I was back where I started. I was just learning it afresh and I'll try to keep this short, but I'm a follower of Jesus and I was reading this passage from the older Testament, this story about this guy called Elijah and he's a prophet and he has this showdown with all these pagan prophets of the bar on Mount Carmel. And it's a very unusual story but basically there was this drought across the land and they had no water and everything was dying. And so they were trying to work out which gods or which God was the most powerful to reduce the drought. So both create this sacrifice of a ball on an altar and then Elijah puts all this water around the sacrifice and around the trench and then God rains down fire on his and he's vindicated and all the other prophets are kind of killed and then there's rain.


Now, it's an unusual story. It's got nothing to do with time management normally but as sometimes happens with scripture, I was reading it and I just had this a heart moment and I'm like, why did Elijah put water all across his altar? I've always thought that just means that the miracle of fire means that it's more amazing. But actually, there was no water. Like, the amount of water he put into that trench was like absurdly expensive because it was in the middle of a drought. And I just had this sense that the sacrifice of what he didn't have allowed the release of what he wanted and what he didn't have was water. And then it brought the rain. And so I actually said to God in my own personal way, what don't I have? And I knew the answer. It was like I am desperate for space and time in my life and I'm trying to get it by working harder and by getting more efficient and by balancing all these different capitals and it's not working. And I'm, like an expert in this area and I just had this sense that actually time and space is not just a matter of organizing yourself.


Those things matter, but there's actually a deep spiritual reality to time because you are time. I mean, you don't have anything but time. You can't manage time like you can manage money. You are time. You get this many weeks, you die. And so I just had this sense of I had to pour it out on the altar and trust in faith, trusting God that somehow my life would organize. And so it's exactly what I did. What would I give first? Well, what would I pour out? I decided that I'd spend every Monday morning from 08:00 to 01:00 walking on the mountain next to me next door. And so I took a thermos. I didn't open my email. And Monday is the busiest time where I'd usually just be frantically getting stuff done from the weekend. And I just walked and I enjoyed nature and I prayed and I thought some of the best insights of my week came from that time. But what I discovered is and it was just I can't explain it, but my to do list stabilized. My client list stabilized when I needed more work, more paid work, it came my way when I needed more space and rest, things slowed down and just I had this amazing year where I was back into the rhythm.


And it came by completely illogically, having less time to work and by putting, I suppose, living in a spiritual way. So I know that's an unusual story, but all I can say from that is there is a spirituality to time which requires surrender, not just ownership. And that's a journey I'm still walking through. It doesn't mean I spend all my time just walking on the mountain or sitting on the bodie tree, like exactly. Almost all my time is spent working. I work my guts out. But there's a rhythm and a pace where I rest before I work, where I surrender, before I control, where I recognize that my life is not actually my own and where there's a rhythm of rest and time that somehow works and sometimes it doesn't still. But the journey itself shapes me and the wrestle with time and space helps me become the person I am. And I'm very thankful for that even though time is a hard thing to manage in my life generally. I don't know if that makes sense. Does there comment? Because you might be able to interpret it for listeners in a way that explains it better than I did.


I actually relate with that unbelievably well, in this sense, I like, you have a strong type A drive left brain. What appears to be logical. I always tell my wife you can have a rational process and still be wrong, but you approach the world logically. So it doesn't mean saying that women are more logical focused perhaps than women might be more accurate statement than they're more logical. Because I would assume we're right. And I've lived long enough to know that that's definitely not the case. But there's something I commented to you before we talked. I've been listening to your audio book and sometimes our subconscious, our spirit, however you view of the world I happen to believe that there's a God. I happen to believe there's an organizing, benevolent force going on. Maybe there is, maybe there's not. My simple evidence is my heart beats and I didn't do that and there's a lot of fancier stuff, but I try to keep it simple and I don't try to sell it. But put simply, there are times and I just don't know the answer. And me trying harder isn't going to help that. And it's kind of like pouring gasoline on the fire and maybe the best analogy that my left brain can use is trying to make a good decision when you're overtired by thinking harder.


No, the answer is get some sleep. And then in the morning, all of a sudden, if you don't even believe in psychology, in the morning, you're less tired. So if you said they're trying to move something when you're exhausted and you literally can't move anything more, 10 hours from now, if you get some good sleep, you're going to be able to move that easily. But literally, you could put everything you might pull a muscle, you might hurt yourself. So that, again, yin yang space, pace concept. And for me, somebody could say, I have a degree in psychology and so I also have this left brain psychologist that is rather erudite. He believes and atheistic in his tendencies so that I can be right just in case I say the wrong thing. He's really concerned with being right. He says, look, even if there is no God, it's efficacy. That's a big fancy word that means it works for me to believe there is a God. So whatever. Long story short, sometimes I just need to get quiet and go for a bike ride. We have a little nature preserved by us. Or I need to sit and meditate.


And sometimes the meditation is horrible. It's just there's thoughts and more thoughts and more thoughts. You're meditating, here's this idea and you're going to do this, and here's exactly what the project like. No, that's not really what meditation feels like. If there's more ideas, just bombarding my brain. But there is this sense of I think the best way I can say is my father once told me this idea when I would have a hard time making decisions, say, have you ever felt wrong about doing what you believe is the right thing? I said, no, I thought about it before I said that, but it was like, okay, now that doesn't mean you're going to get the outcome you want. It doesn't mean it's going to play out, doesn't mean it's going to be popular. But so if you can find that place which is aligned, which is true, which is you, and you can say, yeah, I'll stand by this. And whether it's the pace, the amount of time I spend with my kids, the work I do, whether or not the work I do for a client is good enough, or I should put in an extra hour so it goes different ways.


But I think that's something that again, the pace, the left side brain, the ego, or whatever you want to call it, it doesn't like that. It doesn't like that concept because it's humbling to say that I need rest. It's humbling. It's almost emasculating to say as a man, well, I work behind this desk, let me tell you what happens after I'm sitting for 14 hours, not moving heavy stuff and hurling after I'm sitting for a while, so I get this pain in my back, and then I can't walk as trade and bench, too. Well, I used to bench 250. I don't bench press anymore. I sit on a bench sometimes. But yeah, you know what? We don't want to say that because it sounds like you're a Wade, especially as a guy. So I don't know what the female version of that is, but it's like, seriously, you sat at a desk, and now you're tired. Come on, buddy, come on, toughen up. Do your stuff. And yet there's all the research in the world, as you and I both know, that says you don't get good rest. You're not in a good place. And we and yet we believe this for athletes, if the athlete's injured or if the athlete even has the big game coming up, you're you're about to do your 100, your Usain bolt, your Carl Lewis.


You're doing 100 yard dash or a sprint or 100 meters in Olympics in two days, nobody's going to tell you to go train your butt off for the next two days. They're going to tell you to rest. Dude, I'm running for 10 seconds. Rest, buddy, rest. You got to have everything to put into those. But with work, we say, no, it doesn't matter. Put a five hour energy drink over it or some caffeine thing, and it's going to be okay. And that's the part that I love. You talking about the different pieces of capital. And you and I know there's different coaches refer to this, different ways of how they explain it, but there's this common theme of one dimensional versus multi dimensional looking at life through one lens and having this only one measure. As opposed to saying, no, there's these different pieces of this. And I think that's something that is so huge. And then already, as you and I are getting sort of philosophical, I'm going to kind of bring it back a little for the listeners who's about to kind of go off into the ethers, because you and I are kind of sound like we're both kind of used to being there and coming back on our own little spaceships.


What are some of the practical strategies that are research based that, you know, can help somebody unplug, unwind and think clearly just as something that's habitual, something that they do, that if they don't resonate with what you and I said, which, by the way, if you don't relisten to it, there was actually a lot of good stuff in what he said there, whether you subscribe to a specific brand of view of the world or whatever. But what's some of that practical stuff that there's research behind, you can say, yeah, look, this is the stuff that whether you even flow with this story I just shared, if you're going against this, you're just really going against that. What's, that science thing? Yeah, science.


Yeah. Now, look, it's interesting. I mean, my book is not a highly philosophical book either. It's a productivity book. So it's really nice to be able to talk through some of the ideas that are in the book, but obviously a bit more wax. Eloquent it's interesting when you're talking about Sedentariness. I mean, I'm a physiotherapy by physical therapist, by background, and obviously have a science background and one last bit of philosophy, and then we'll go on to that practical side. But it does relate the idea that work is when you're running, you're working. It's the idea of when we used to be agricultural, we would be physically digging. And so it makes sense that rest is not like, let's say a Jewish Sabbath sense is not walking and not physically working, et cetera. But for you and I, we don't physically work like that. This is work for me. I'm on a screen, I'm communicating, I'm using the Internet, I'm typing, I'm swiping, and I'm at a desk a lot of the time, or I'm just having relational work based conversations if I'm face to face with people. And so the reason that's really important is I get to this point in the book where I ask the question, what is work and what is rest?


And therefore, how might you practically learn to rest in your life if you're a knowledge worker? Because the conclusion I came to is that if my work is predominantly what I do in my brain, not what I do with my body, right? So it relates to and it's always digitally mediated. It always involves a screen. And then on the weekends, I'm typing and I'm swiping, I'm using the Internet, but it's just different apps. But the brain from a neurological perspective can't tell the difference between Outlook and Instagram. It can't tell the difference between what you're doing at work and what you're doing for rest. Like, it might feel different because you're watching Squid games versus talking to Wade on a podcast, but ultimately it looks very similar neurologically, actually. Work and rest. And so one of the reasons I think our society is really losing its ability to rest and slow down and experience what I would say is deep rest. Newport talks about deep work. I think we need to be talking about deep rest is because we haven't actually defined what work is, and therefore we haven't worked out what rest is, and we haven't worked out how to flip from work mode to rest mode.


And for almost all of us now, that requires a change in the way we use technology. So I like to talk about the simple, small practices when people ask me questions like, you did what's the researchbased science stuff? So I talk about digital free meals and starting and ending the day without technology and walking without podcasts and having these tiny pauses throughout the day where you can experience a better life and how you might change your phone so it's less addictive. So all that's in the book. But the hardest practice of a lot relates to this conversation, which is the digital Sabbath, or the weekly day of rest is what I call it in the book. It's a day, a week where you actually have a day of rest. A deep, true, significant day of rest, which is not a day where you're running around dropping the kids off every kind of activity that you've precommitted to, and you're doing jobs around the house and catching up on your washing and doing bills or just watching lots of television. It's a day where you design it intentionally so that you rest your brain as well as you rest your heart, as well as you rest your soul.


And that's not easy. That actually takes some practice. Sabbath is one of those beautiful things. I've looked at research from all these different places and I cannot find any example just in any philosophical field or scientific field that beats the Jewish Christian Sabbath when it's done well. And so that's why I decided to use the Sabbath for this particular practice, which is the weekly day of rest. And basically if we're going to rest, we need to stop working. And that pretty much means we need to stop accessing email, stop accessing the internet, but we need to do more than that. We need to know what rest is. So for me, I have this process which I take people on where and I call it five DS, but basically I want to orientate a day of rest around both deep rest and also worship or remembrance. I call it remembrance. So you're all retention. So something spiritual, something rejuvenating. And to do that you need to have a day, a full 24 hours, once a week, where you actually focus on rest individually and together. Where you have I say that you do the dishes. So it's about how do you prepare for that day of rest because it's impossible to work like ridiculous hours and then suddenly say, yes, now I'm resting, the dishes are messy, the vacuuming hasn't been done, you're not going to be able to rest if you do that.


So you need to have like this ritual where you spend a bit of time preparing meals and making sure the house is clean. And then maybe for us, what we do is we eat a meal together, we light candles, we say some questions, we say what we're thankful for and we say, hey, we are now in our digital Sabbath. We're now on our weekly day of rest. So a ritual to flip you into rest mode and then clearly define what your dos are. So what will you do? For me, I love chainsawing and physical activity and doing stuff that is manual because that's the opposite of what I do when I work. So that's restful for me, as long as I don't have to do it. Like not ticking off jobs or having to fix things around my house. Like, I'm talking about just activity because I feel like it not because I have to do it. And for my wife, she's a nurse, so she doesn't want to help people. So we don't hang out with people who actually need us, we just hang out with people who are easy. Which is terrible to tell people, because then my friends are always saying, am I one of the people you see on a Saturday?


An introvert extrovert? What does it look like to really rest together? We've done that work. And so we know how to actually the kind of activities that actually lead to this fully restful, beautiful day that just gives joy and life and that you just celebrate every moment because you're like, yes, it's my Saturday, it's my day of rest. It's my digital Sabbath. And the kids get excited because it's Free Food Day. We eat lots of bad food on digital Sabbath because it's a day of joy. So know what is rest and know what your dons are, but also know what your dos are. My don'ts not watch TV. Well, particularly not do Internet. And the last bit is the disconnect, which is, what are you going to turn off? So I put my phone away for 24 hours. I check it now at 11:00 in the day just to see if any emergency texts have come. If I go bushwalking with my kids, I'll have my phone turned off in my bag just in case. So I'm not creating a bunch of rules and religion around it, but I'm designing a day of rest. So it's a long answer, but look, I have videos and handouts to help you plan and practice this on my website.


And obviously it's part of my book as one of the seven practices to learn to unplug and make space. But the weekly rest changes you. Walter Brugam and a theologian says people who take a day of rest live all seven days differently. And I've found that to be tremendously true. You create a rhythm and a pattern where you start with rest and then your life individually and collectively changes as a result. But we have to practice it.


Yeah, I think of the gosh, there's so much to what you said there. I think of me cementing my practice, my ritual of going to the beach and playing volleyball on Fridays. It took a while for me to get there, and even some days I don't necessarily well, do I want to go to damn, this is yes, I want to go to Daily because maybe I'm a little tired. Specifically when I go there, I look at my phone once here and there again for the emergency text thing, but other than that, now I'm present. And to your point, I think there's so much to having the rest be really kind of almost an absence of things. And as I watched my children pre COVID, we almost had them on no device or anything or various restricted and then for a year they were doing a year and a half, they were doing school from home. So it's like, okay, how do we did the best we could and so they're more involved. And so now I see how we're trying to kind of tighten that. But I see what you're saying in the sense that even there's, like, for example, I like watching TikToks.


There's the funny ones, there's sometimes the insightful ones. It's become more than just dances these days. So that's nice, but to your point, it can feel like work. I remember I used to watch so I watched a lot of basketball. I remember my favorite team, the Miami Heat, I used to tape all of their games and I would be down on myself if I didn't watch all the games. Like, I'm a bad fan. And then all of a sudden, this fun became homework. I better get through. I've got to make sure that I can say that I saw when so and so did this. Like all this stuff. And it was not it was kind of rest, but it kind of wasn't. It was absence of work, but it wasn't rest.


Yeah, see, that's interesting, isn't it? Because just not working isn't rest. It's not working. There's a difference. And that's where I have my don't you need to know what work is and then not do that. But then you also need to know what is life giving and what transforms you and your family and those around you. And that takes practice and intention. It absolutely isn't an accidental thing. Yeah, I interrupted, but hopefully I agree with you.


No, that's great. It's just that thing because I think of my journey. I first started calling this podcast the four day work week entrepreneur podcast. And there was a couple of reasons I shifted the name to the Three Day Weekend Entrepreneur Podcast. One is because the three day weekend is what most people are really looking for. That's what I really wanted. But when I first started, my commitment was, I only want to work four days. I wasn't as clear about what work I wanted to do. Just like, I'm not working more than four days. What do you want to call it? Moving away from something. Running away from something. I was against something, whatever words you want to use, rather than moving towards something, being for something. And I came to realize a lot of the times I'd have a four day work week. But I hadn't planned anything that was life sustaining, life encouraging. Like, so sometimes I'd be looking at my film like, well, hey, I don't have to work. And they'd be looking to me like, well, yeah, but we still have these crazy schedules. You haven't added anything to the quality of our life.


Not that you have to, but you've basically removed something, but it's not yet turned into again, the absence of that doesn't mean it's turned into higher quality. So you made this quantity definition of less work hours equals better life. It's like, no, that's part of it. But if you don't put something else in there, well, then you're just in a vacuum and you're bored and you're like now you just got another issue that a lot of people seem to have.


Let me think about retirement. Retirement kills people because, yeah, they've got no work, and it's terrible. You lose your purpose in life. I don't have a three day weekend. I work five days a weekend. And at the moment, I do that because I adore work. That's my problem.




But when I say adore work, most of it is not paid. I do so much volunteer stuff, and I'm in podcasts and things like this at work because it helps my business. But I was thinking, if I had $5 million, I would probably just spend more time chatting with people like you because I love it so much. So this is my personality, but I need to make sure that the rest I have is restful like that. There's quite a difference between a five day work week and then two days where you're just not working, but you're not deeply resting. Whereas to have a day which is deeply restful, that you connect with family, connect with God, connect with yourself. Sundays is crazy still. And I have to do my Renaults at some stage, and I have to do the shopping and there's all these have to do things you have to do. But I think so I'm not suggesting that it's a great idea to I love the idea of a three day weekend, and I have had that, and I would like to do that again one day when the time is right. But I think, like you said, I agree that the quality of your rest is where we really lack an understanding of how to rest in our culture, and it always pushes against culture.


Like, my kids are not allowed to play some sports on particular days because we've made a decision that we would rather wake up and have a morning where we have no plans than to have planned something which they actually value. That's good for them. So it doesn't mean they still play sport. But we're selective in what sports and we're selective in what parties we say yes to. When they're invited as a young, particularly as young kids, they're invited to every kid's birthday party. It's a bit more selective now. It's to people you're actually friends with because they're teenagers. So obviously I want them to I want them to rest. And rest for them is different than rest for me. So they need to do the things that they love. They do do some screens on their weekend, on their day off because they value it. But we're trying to work out how to navigate that. But my point is, we said no to birthday parties if they weren't close, because actually, this is our day off. We're not going to run around all day. So it requires boundaries. It definitely requires pushing back against culture, pushing back against some things which seem normative that everyone does to be a good parent.


But actually, are you a good parent if your kids never have any space? They go from school to soccer to piano to this to that.


It gets so stressed.


Yeah, it's terrible.


And they get overwhelmed. And I think people don't realize that a ten year old or twelve year old can get so overwhelmed when they don't have the downtime. And sometimes something that seems like the social media, like it's always fun. No, for a lot of them, it's work. They're trying to keep up. They're trying to so I watch this with my kids of us keeping restrictions on their hours and then sometimes pulling it from them. They'd kind of look because they'd be like, yeah, I want it back, but it's been kind of nice to have some time away from it, and we've not done as much of it and yeah, sorry to interrupt. I just so agree with you. It's not this simple question and just a real quick thing to your point. To me, you know, I don't do nothing on the three days, even creatively. I for me, four days of work are the days that I generate income. So I might volunteer. The books that I write on spirituality are different things. I'll do those on my usually not Fridays and playing Vol, but my Saturday Sunday. No, I'm type Ash. I like to create.


I like to do things. And then, shocker, sometimes I'll get an idea and I do my best because I track or invest my time, and sometimes I will because I'm in such a quiet space. On the Sunday morning, I'll wake up at 530 and I'll have this epic idea for business, and I've at least gotten wise enough. I'm like, okay, this might not be here tomorrow. I've got ridiculous clarity right now because nothing stressed me. And so I'll give it 15 minutes, or usually at the most 30 minutes, and I'll kind of hash it out or write it out and be like, okay, I'm not going to develop that. But if there's an inspirational idea or piece that, I'm going to put it down. And so to your point, not having it become this dogma, but just this sort of general, this intention, not this white knuckled goal, but like, I'm going in this direction, and if we kind of go a little bit that way a little bit, that'd be okay. But I'm going now. I'm going west. I'm going to kind of go west. And if we go a little bit. That's fine.


I'm not going east, but if we go a little bit north and west, that's okay. And having that flexibility, wow. You and I can talk, man. This is yeah, no, we didn't really.


Get very practical, I'm sorry. For listeners.


No, this is the length of no, I'm just looking at some other things like no, but like I said, I believe this is how we get the best content. I love what's not what you and I practiced or scheduled. So this is not for two productivity guys. This is not the efficient right off the outlining, exactly what it should look like. But it's good, darn it. And if you don't like it, I want to tell you, where can people learn more about and we'll put all the tags and the links and the thing, but where can people learn more about the book and your work and what you're doing?


Yeah, look, I would love you to pick up a copy of it, space Maker how to Unplug, Unwind and Think Clearly in the Digital Age. So it is everywhere in Amazon. You can listen to it on Audible, you can buy it on Kobo or Kindle. I love the physical book. We put a lot of work into making it feel and look good. So I would encourage you to pick up a physical copy and enjoy it. Enjoy the space as you do it. Or there you are. And look, I'd love you to if you're interested in just the digital rest type stuff, you can get videos and free resources to help you plan a day off. You can get that from my website, Au. So it's plural. And the Au is for Australia, and we run productivity training for teams all around the world. I have a trainer that helps with this as well, from Canada. So for the US time zone. So they're usually three to four hour courses. How to get your inbox to zero. So the Eman Ninja list. Assessment priority samurai stuff. We have a Making Space course which is about helping digital wellness in teams.


So helping people get really practical with stuff we didn't actually talk about, but how to reassess your relationship with the online world. How to recognize digital overuse in your own life, particularly if you're working in a hybrid working environment, and how to create healthy rhythms and boundaries so you get the best out of life online, but live this full and rich life. We do that for teams realizing how smashed and tired and burnt out people are post COVID. So, look, I'd love to just have a conversation with you if you're interested. So, yeah, take a look at the website.


Awesome, thank you. I don't think I've ever, by the way, just ended so abruptly. Like, yeah, we're talking too much. We got to get to the club. But thank you so much. I think, like I said, I've been listening to the audio book. I've been following the illustrations on the physical book, but I'm more of an audiobook guy, though. I love having the physical book. I just always find that just there's something about that, especially as an author, that just I don't know, there's something there. There feels to me there's an energy to that, and just I didn't I know somebody wants to explain this to me once. Where when you have the physical book, especially if you've read it or read it a couple of times, sometimes you just look and you see it and the visual trigger, it's like a reset to your brain. Like, oh, yeah. And so you remember these things. So thank you so much for that. I'm really looking forward to sharing this with audience. I know they're going to love it. Thank you so much for coming, coming out and sharing your wisdom with today.


Daniel yeah, that's been great. Thanks for the conversation.


Wade my pleasure. And for those of you listening, as always, look forward to helping you impact more people and make more money in less time doing what you do best so you can better enjoy your family, your friends, your life, the journey, the space, the pace, all that good stuff. Thanks so much for listening to everybody.

Daniel SihProfile Photo

Daniel Sih

Daniel is the co-founder of Spacemakers®, a productivity consulting group for busy leaders.
His book "Spacemaker - how to unplug, unwind and think clearly in the digital age," won the Australian Business Book Awards in 2021 (best personal development book).
As a trainer, coach and keynote speaker, Daniel has worked with CEO’s, executives, and other senior professionals throughout Australia and beyond. His professional history includes leadership roles in physiotherapy, health management, project management and Christian ministry.
He is also the founder of a number of globally-accessible productivity courses such as Email Ninja®, List Assassin®, Priority Samurai™, with more than 20,000 students online and offline.